The emergence of Veranda Style in Foochow: based on the former British Consulate from a Western perspective

by Hantao Wang

This academic work briefly reviews the development of veranda as an architectural element in Foochow (Fuzhou), a coastal city in Southeast China. The city occupies an important role in the history of colonialism in China as it was one of earliest treaty ports opened after the Opium War. A foreign settlement appeared in the suburbs in about 1855 and the veranda style was then introduced by British merchants and diplomats. This work aims to discuss how the construction of veranda was influenced by local craftsmen or social environment, and how veranda was in turn localised in native houses. The historic background in the 18th century and the architectural significance in colonial architecture precede the introduction of Western architecture in the foreign settlement of Foochow with the case of British consulate buildings in Foochow. Although the consulate was almost demolished later, the discussion is developed with materials in the British National Archives. In case study, construction of British consular buildings was reviewed from the points of both British officers and Chinese contractors to suppose a possible Chinese influence on veranda. Moreover, the humble building of servants’ quarters was referred to as an early example of localised veranda in Foochow, combined with more projects built for native residents. Finally, it is concluded that influences on both cultures with veranda are actually a cultural phenomenon in the process of colonial modernity.