In the 1930s, Chongqing University launched courses related to architectural history and theory under the architecture education system. After 1937, as a large number of scholars, colleges and universities started to move to the inland cities, teachers of Chongqing University and National Central University worked together to carry out related disciplinary construction and talent nurturing. From 1940 to 1942, under the guide of scholars including Mr. Chen Boqi, Director of the Department of Architecture, CQU teachers and students launched an exploration into modernist architecture education. Long Qingzhong and Xia Changshi were mainly engaged in teaching of the architectural history, construction methods and landscape gardening.
In 1952, Chongqing Institute of Architectural Engineering (Chongqing Architecture University) was established as a result of institutional adjustment. Mr. Ye Zhongji, a member of the former Society for the Study of Chinese Architecture, served as the first Director of the Department of Architecture. The History Teaching and Research Office was set up under the Department of Architecture. Gu Qiyi, Ye Qishen, and Lyu Shaohuai, as well as Bai Zuomin and Shao Junyi who joined in later, formed a research team with considerable strength.
In May 1958, the Architectural Scientific Research Institute of the Faculty of Architectural Engineering established the "Research Group of Architectural Theory and History" in collaboration with Chongqing Jianzhu College. In November 1959, the Research Office of Architectural Theory and History of China Academy of Building Research, headquartered in Beijing, set up its second branch in Chongqing after a branch set up in Nanjing. Apart from participating in the compilation of the "three architectural histories of China", the team of history and theory scholars completed the compilation of books including Outline of General Architectural History of Sichuan, A Brief History of Sichuan Ancient Architecture and Modern Architectural History of Sichuan. Gu Qiyi and his colleagues carried out survey and research of cliff tombs, cliff grottoes and other stone cultural relics of the Han and Tang Dynasties, as well as masonry buildings, wood structures of the Song and Yuan Dynasties and other early architectural relics, and provided important physical evidences for compilation of the Chinese architectural history. The team published papers including the Architectural Forms Reflected in Cliff Grottoes of the Yang Dynasty in Sichuan and Survey Report on Flying Apsaras Tibetan Temple at Yunyan Temple of the Doutuan Mountain. The history research team organized survey of houses, ancestral temples and halls of the Han people in Chengdu and Chongqing, as well as human dwellings of Yi, Qiang and Tibetan people in and around Sichuan. In 1958, Ye Qishen and his colleagues extracted the 6 construction methods of buildings in mountainous areas from the human dwellings on hilly land of Sichuan and Chongqing. The Survey Report on Human Dwellings in Chengdu and Chongqing completed during this period has become one of the most important historic references on residential buildings in Sichuan and Chongqing. The initial draft of Tibetan Housing in Sichuan was basically finished in 1964. The Research Office was also committed to extracting construction ideas and methods of modern buildings from the traditional architectural heritage. During this period, the Research Office carried out extensive surveys and researches, gathered abundant materials, and extracted construction ideas and methods from traditional buildings, which laid a solid theoretical foundation for the concept that the architectural style comes from the grassroots advocated by the architecture community. In view of the inadequate international exchange at that time, returned overseas scholars including Lyu Shaohuai, Xia Changhuai and Ye Zhongji devoted themselves to translation of architectural documents of the UK, France, Japan and Russia using their language skills. Among the translated works, there is Complete Architectural Works of Le Corbusier (Volume 1), and Urban Planning in the East and the West and the History of Western Contemporary Architecture by Kisho Kurokawa. Though most of them were not published, they played an important role in training and reserving talents and inspiring the translation and research of foreign architectural history and theory of China to the 1980s.
In the 1980s, the teaching and research work of the team of history and theory research was resumed and huge progress was made. A series of classical architectural documents translated by Mr. Yin Peitong were released and published successively. Among them there was External Space Design, Street Aesthetics, Continued Street Aesthetics, and Architecture Psychology. These books sparked heated response nationwide, and were regarded as timely rain in the architectural theory community. They also inspired establishment and development of emerging disciplines like urban design and landscape architecture. Mr. Ye Qishen and Mr. Shao Junyi restored their survey and research of traditional human dwellings. In particular, great achievements were made in research of stilted buildings in mountainous areas. Under the guide of Mr. Ye, Mr. Li Xiankui and Mr. Zhang Xingguo completed the Stilt-type Houses of Miao People and A Study on Traditional Towns in Hilly Areas in Southeast Sichuan. During this period, the history research team participated in compilation of the book A History of Chinese Ancient Architectural Techniques. In 1991, teachers of the Research Office participated in compilation of Complete Works of Chinese Art and acted as editors in chief of the Altars and Temples of Complete Works of Architecture Art. In 1992, the book Tibetan Housing in Sichuan was published. In 1993, the Architectural Heritage of Modern China, a China-Japan cooperation project (supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Department of Scientific and Technological Department of the Ministry of Construction and the Toyota Foundation), in which Yang Songlin was involved, was published. Yang Songlin acted as the editor in chief of Architectural Heritage of Modern China: Chongqing. In 2001, he participated in compilation of the Complete Collection of Chinese Art Classification under the general editorship of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China and GAPP.
In 1979, the discipline Architectural History and Theory was approved to establish the postgraduate program. In 1998, it was approved to establish the doctoral program. Chongqing University is the first university in the middle and west China to establish the doctoral program of the discipline Architectural History and Theory.
In the 21st Century, the Institute of Architectural History and Theory of the Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning experienced rapid development. Guided by Prof. Zhang Xingguo, a national famous teacher, a teaching and research team with rigorous academic attitude, rich experience and considerable strength was built. At present the Institute has 17 full-time teachers. Among them, there is 1 national famous teacher, 4 professors, 4 associate professors and 8 lecturers. Eight of them have been on an academic visit to foreign countries as senior visiting scholars. In recent years, the Institute has nurtured 4 post-doctors, 16 doctors and more than 180 masters. There are currently more than 30 doctoral candidates and 60 postgraduate students.
The team hold an academic attitude that values "rigorousness, truth, quick-wittedness and diligence", and are devoted to teaching and research in areas including architectural history, cultural heritage protection, and regional architectural creation of China and foreign countries. After accumulation and development over the years, a course group of architectural history and theory made up of basic theoretical courses, theory expansion courses and practice courses has been established. The course group covers both undergraduate and postgraduate students, with clear objectives of course stages, distinct characteristics and a complete system. In nearly 5 years, the team has undertaken more than 10 teaching and reform research projects at the national, provincial and ministerial level. Besides, they have published more than 200 high-standard papers, officially published 5 textbooks and teaching books, and completed construction of the excellent course of Chongqing Municipality, Chinese Architectural History. The team have been actively exploring the teaching mode that features "interaction between design practice and theoretical teaching" on the basis of theoretical teaching, and have launched two practical design projects separately, namely vernacular architectural design and cultural heritage protection graduation project. In recent years, the practice courses have resulted in fruitful teaching achievements. The works of the vernacular architectural design project won a number of awards in the "Excellence Selection of Architectural Design Projects in Colleges and Universities". The cultural heritage protection graduation project won awards in "Yuan Ye Award" National Architectural Design Competition for 2 straight years. The teaching plan, Vernacular Architectural Design under the Understanding of Region · Tradition and Culture, compiled under the direction of the team, was selected as an excellent teaching plan in the "National Selection of Teaching Plan and Teaching Achievements of Architectural Design in Colleges and Universities" in 2014.
Scientific research construction
The Research Institute has been devoted to mapping and research of ancient buildings in the region. It has completed over 100 mapping projects, including Zhuge Liang Memorial Hall, Wangjiang Park, and Du Fu's Thatched Cottage in Chengdu, Sansuci Museum in Meishan, Bao'en Temple in Pingwu, ancient buildings of the Emei Mountain, Qinglong Cave in Zhenyuan, Guizhou, ancient buildings in Tucheng, Huguang Guild Hall in Chongqing, Giant Buddhist Temple in Tongnan and Shengshou Temple in Dazu, and provided valuable archival sources for protection of local cultural relics. In particular, the survey map of Bao'en Temple in Pingwu provided an important basis for design of rescue and repair of ancient building complex at Bao'en Temple after Wenchuan Earthquake.
In recent years, the Research Institute has undertaken 6 projects supported by the National Natural Science Foundation and more than 10 government-sponsored research projects at provincial and ministerial level, and has published a great deal of research findings. Monographs under the National Key Books Publishing Planning Program as part of the "12th Five-year Plan", published under the sponsorship of the National Publication Foundation, including "Graphic and Historical Materials of Ancient Buildings in Southwest China", i.e. Liangping Shuanggui Temple, Qinglongdong Ancient Building Complex in Zhenyuan, Pingwu Bao'en Temple, Dazu Stone Carvines and Ancient Building Complex, Human Dwellings in Sichuan and Ancient Buildings in Chongqing, received an enthusiastic response.
The team is also actively involved in rescue protection and repair design of cultural heritage in southwest China. It has directed and completed more than 30 protective repair design and implementation projects of cultural heritages, including protection and governance planning of Dazu Stone Carvings to declare world cultural heritage, Hechuan Fishing Town, Chongqing Huguang Guild Hall, Tongnan Giant Buddhist Temple, Liangping Shuanggui Temple, Yang's House in Shuangjiang, Tongnan, Laojun Cave in Nan'an of Chongqing, and Guo Moruo's former residence. Besides, it has undertaken more than 40 protective planning projects of historic cultural cities (towns), historic cultural streets and historic cultural villages. In particular, the "Protection and Surrounding Governance of Historic and Cultural Heritage of Chongqing Huguang Guild Hall" was given the "Example Award for Human Settlements in China"; the "Protection Planning for Ciqikou Historic Street in Chongqing" was given the First Prize for Outstanding Planning and Design of the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development and the National Silver Award for Outstanding Project Design; the "Protection Planning for Laitan Ancient Town" was given the Third Prize for Outstanding Planning and Design of the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development. It has more than 10 national, provincial and ministerial award-winning projects.
Under guidelines that attach equal importance to locality and internationalization, the team has been carrying out extensive cooperation and exchange with colleges, universities and academic groups in Canada, Italy, the USA, Japan and Belgium. In recent 10 years, the team carried out a number of scientific research, practice and teaching projects in collaboration with institutions, colleges and universities including the World Bank, International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property, World Heritage Training and Research Institute for the Asia and Pacific Region, Tohoku University, and Chinese University of Hong Kong. While nurturing talents, it has also made remarkable academic achievements.