Professor: ROBERTS NATHAN E
Nov 23 2014
The Hongbo Square: Interaction of Colonial Identity and Nicolas Cathedral Church
My object is the Hongbo Square in the downtown district in Harbin. The location of the Square is hard to define because it covers the whole business area and has different layers including the largest underground shopping mall in Harbin. It was also an air raid shelter. However, local people usually refer to it as a blight on the landscape to the roundabout is located at the intersection of the Red Army Street and East-West Straight Street. The architecture in the center of the square is thirty-five meters high and made of glass and a metal ball. The golden snowflakes represent the northern city of Harbin’s style and prosperity. The sphere represents the crystallization of Harbin economy, culture, science and technology. In history, the most famous Nicolas Cathedral was standing in the same location which represents the old generation in Harbin. The transformation of center architecture in the Hongbo Square reveals a landmark in the urban history of Harbin Russians and is a site where locals do not deny formative mixed citizen’s identity between Russian immigrations and local people. The church scene is born of the city history and is closely linked with the city architecture form development.
Harbin, known as oriental Moscow in China, has plenty of splendid and historic architecture: gothic, baroque, the New Culture Movement, as well as Chinese baroque. All these architectural styles, which are symbolic of Harbin’s culture, combine the essence of modern European classic architecture and eastern and western culture. They are the carriers of the city’s historic and cultural development, representative of its unique landscape as well as non-renewable cultural resources. The first construction of the Nicolas Cathedral began with the interplay of the Qing dynasty and Russia. In 18981, the Chinese Eastern Railway (CER) began was the only completed line of road in North Manchuria in the district of Harbin. It linked Chita with Vladivostok in the Russian Far East2 and a lot of Russian people poured into Harbin. Since then, the city was composed of mixed culture. The emigrations were huge, “At its peak in the early 1920s, Harbin’s Russian community numbered around 120,000. Some 35,000 Russians lived in other settlements in Manchuria.” 3 At this time, Harbin was a small fishing village, with the immigration of Russians, as Mark Gamsa said in article the Harbin in comparative perspective, “Turning to Harbin as a riverine treaty port (which it became in January 1907) will reveal Harbin’s own variety of the ‘“nonstate” Sino–foreign relations that made an enormous, if short-lived, contribution to China’s modern development.” The city began to expand quickly.
The first thing the Russians did was to build the Orthodox Church. The construction of churches not only acted as a mean of culture but also as a tool to control the region. The Russian government chose Nicolas Cathedral’s location just opposite to the Chinese Eastern Railway train station in Harbin as a starting point. It is important to analyze an architecture’s material, format, function and the planning of the neighborhood altogether because they are real entities of cultural details which recorded the historical fragment. These vivid subjects can make up the lack of written records and are also more persuasive and convincible. Tsar Nicholas II named the church “Nicolas Cathedral” and held the opening ceremony on October 13, 18994. Nicholas Orthodox Church is a unique style of elegant religious boutique that he church consists of all wooden structure, even without a nail. The sacred objects including icons and clock which were all painted by the Russian painters who traveled from Moscow by ship. The location of the church chosen by Russian designers was the highest elevation spot in the city’s urban planning. Followed this foundation,