Past Event

Collins/Kaufmann Forum: Cole Roskam, "Constructing Climate in Colonial Hong Kong, 1842-1912"

May 4, 2021
8:00 PM - 9:30 PM
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Zoom Webinar
Aftermath of the 1874 Typhoon in Yau MaTei, photo by Lai Afong

Hosted by Y. L. Lucy Wang

Meteorology emerged as an important science in late-nineteenth century colonial Hong Kong that deepened imperial knowledge concerning the environmental forces affecting the colony’s economic, political, and social affairs and the region at large. This talk traces the historical study of Hong Kong’s climate through the architecture that enabled it, namely, the design and construction of the Hong Kong Observatory, which was initiated in 1879 at the behest of the London-based Meteorological Society and eventually completed in 1883. Overlooked not only in the architectural history of colonial Hong Kong and Great Britain’s imperial sphere, but in the architectural study of climate more generally, analysis of the observatory and attending controversy surrounding its materialization offers insight into the spaces, systems, and information that gave definition to the colony as an environment and proved critical to Hong Kong’s governance, commercial culture, and physical development over time.