Cement in the Concrete Jungle: The History and Restoration of Shanghai Plaster in Hong Kong
Speaker: Charles Lai 
Date: December 14, 2020 (Monday)
Time: 7:00-8:30 pm
Venue: Online via Zoom


Zoom Link

Webinar ID: 984 4084 4976
Passcode: dla03


Shanghai plaster is a kind of granolithic cement plaster that emerged in Hong Kong around the mid-1920s, and soon became one of the most popular material choices for modern buildings in the 1930s. Despite its popularity in the past, Shanghai plaster has now become one of the most undermined and misunderstood material finishes. Its history went far beyond the conventional narratives that postulated its Shanghainese origin and tied closely with the construction culture and movement of Cantonese craftsmen within the network of overseas Chinese in the South China Sea.

In this talk, I will briefly introduce my research and findings on the history of Shanghai plaster in Hong Kong. It will be followed by an introduction of a conservation project in Tai Hang where the paint-covered Shanghai plaster facade was cleaned and restored. Hopefully, it will serve as a preliminary step for setting up a protocol and method of restoring and preserving Shanghai plaster surfaces in Hong Kong’s built heritage.


About the Speaker

Charles Lai is an architect (RIBA) and an architectural historian. He graduated from the AA School of Architecture in London and the University of Hong Kong. His works explore the history of modern architecture in East and Southeast Asia, the material culture and history of Shanghai plaster, as well as the conservation of historical built heritage.


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