Arts and Culture
Using the Qing-era “Crystal Palace” Lingzhao Pavilion 靈沼軒(1909) as a case study, this paper concerns the performing of transplanting certain landscape or cityscape in the practice of garden construction at the Qing court. In the case of Lingzhao Pavilion, as an imperial space in the Forbidden City of Beijing, I examine the integration of modern aquarium and the underwater wonderland in Chinese concept. By adopting technology and methods of the European iron-and-glass construction, the initiators sought to transform the mundane space in the middle of the political hub into a transmundane realm, to fulfil the imagination of an underwater immortal wonderland.
A full examination of the construction in regards of its design, function, materials, and decoration will evidence the idea that the transmundane world was created by fusing multiple cultural aesthetics and ideas in the construction. The term “Crystal Palace”, which concerns residence of amphibious deity in the Chinese legends, also hints the initial idea of building an underwater wonderland for immortals. Intriguingly, it also reminds the recipients the “Crystal Palace” in Hyde Park, London. As a complex of cultural, ideological and economic interactions, Lingzhao Pavilion stood out of theeclectic architecture against the backdrop of cultural and scientific exchanges between Europe and Asia.