Crystal Streams and Azure Skies: Narratives, Architecture, and the Landscape of Scotland and Ireland With Professor Puay-peng Ho
Is it possible to develop a symbiotic relationship between the land and the people who acted out their humble or colourful life on it? Particularly in the wild and rolling landscape of Scotland and Ireland, had the living pattern shaped by the land, or the land enhanced by human inhabitation? The castles or the ruined cathedral, the tartan or the poetry, the kings and the queens, the scholars and the merchants, the brutal and the romantic, imageries of all sorts will fill our mind when we take the country road or stay in the cities on this trip. In Edinburgh, we will take the Royal Mile between the castle and the palace, with a cathedral and the house of John Knox, the Scottish reformer of the Christian faith, lying in between. There is also a chance to look into the common tenement houses on either side of the main road, which, according to my structure professor, were the first skyscrapers in the world. The Georgian New Town of Edinburgh of the 18th century was a masterpiece of urban planning injecting a sense of civility in the townscape, as opposed to the organic old town, both were designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites. Beyond these imposing architectures, we will also be visiting art and architecture of the early 20th century in the works of Phoebe Anna Traquair, as well as the late 20th century in the new Scottish Parliament.
The landscape of rolling hills and tranquil lochs, dotted with castles and historic houses, were sites of battles and bloodshed. When driving through the history of the clans and king’s soldiers become vivid and come alive.
Now Nature hangs her mantle green
On every blooming tree
And spreads her sheets o’ daisies white
Out o’er the grassy lea
Now Phoebus cheers the crystal streams
And glads the azure skies
But nought can glad the weary wight
That fast in durance lies.
Robert Burns: Lament of Mary, Queen of Scots
In Glasgow, similar sphere of culture is expressed in the wealth the city has gathered in the form of many private art collections. In addition, similar to other European cities of the time, art deco design prevailed. Charles Rennie Mackintosh left behind a handful of buildings that expresses the ornamented spirit. The strong Celtic culture of Ireland versus invading Roman, Viking, Norman or English forces had created many encounters and conflicts that only ended in the past decades in Northern Ireland. And the architecture of grand institutions and humble tenements are suggestive of the struggles and achievement that is uniquely the culture of the land. This tour will present a kaleidoscope of architecture and landscape with a strong industrious spirit of people past.
Professor and Director, School of Architecture
Director, Centre for Architectural Heritage Research
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Dr. Puay-peng Ho received his First Class Honours degree in Architecture from the University of Edinburgh and a Ph.D. in Art History from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. His thesis was focused on Buddhist art and architecture of the Tang dynasty. Dr. Ho is a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Society of Architectural Historians. Currently, he serves on Town Planning Board, Antiquities Advisory Board and History Museum Advisory Panel, and is Chairman of the Council of Lord Wilson Heritage Trust. His research interests and publications are in the areas of Chinese art and architectural history, vernacular architecture, and architectural theory. He is also involved in many architecture conservation projects in Hong Kong.