Chongqing (1940-1942)/Jialing New Village: reclamation of land along the Jialing River
Before the anti-Japanese War, the land which later became Jialing New Village was uncultivated. It was by accident that the piece of land was discovered, developed and regarded as a most significant place for diplomatic occasions.
The “father” of Jialing New Village was Tao Guilin (1893-1992). He was a legendary figure who founded Fu Ji Construction Company in Shanghai (1922), which was committed projects such as Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum (1026-1929) and Shanghai Da Xin Department Store etc., and became well-known around China. After the war broke out, Tao Guilin sensed that there would be a great demand of new construction works in Chongqing, therefore, he decided to establish a Chongqing branch company in 1938. A lot of other famous construction companies in Shanghai and Nanjing also moved west to Chongqing, the number of construction companies grew from 17 to 270 from 1932 to 1940.
In 1940, when Tao Guilin lived along the Jialing River, inspired by the picturesque mountain and water, he had an idea of reclaiming the barren land. At that time there is a huge demand of housing, for the dignitaries when they arrived in Chongqing they often bought villas from the local or built new houses on site that embraced a nice natural environment and safe location. Therefore such an island near the urb was chosen as site, where a new road was built to connect Cheng Yu Highway and along the road two dozen two or three storey villas with air-raid shelters were erected. By virtue of the reputation of Fu Ji Construction Company, soon it attracted the dignitaries to purchase houses here.
By 1942, the new village had already transformed into a high-end housing region. The National Government soon noticed its scale and potential so they decided to turn Jialing New Village into a place for receiving foreign guests and outward propaganda. To shape the image of a modernized capital, well-known architects and construction companies were invited to design key public buildings and residences. There were three key projects, the International Celebration Club, Round Cottage Residence and Jue Yuan Garden. The International Celebration Club was designed by the most reputational architect in China, Yang Tingbao. He took an L-shape and adapted the form to site geographical constraints to organize spatial layouts and circulation. The Round Cottage, also designed by Yang Tingbao, was a residence of Sun Ke, son of Sun Yat-sen. The dominant feature was the round shape and radiant interior layout. Jue Yuan Garden was designed by Xing Ye Associated Architects. It successfully integrate garden with mountain buildings. These projects were representatives of the best modern architecture in China at that time.
The city expansion and development of Chongqing during the wartime was complicated and full of accidents. The development of Jialing New Village was facilitated by various factors, the moving of talented architects and construction companies from all over the country, the need of excavation to the countryside, the political reason to build up a modern image of Chongqing of the National Government and so on. It is one of the countless stories which took place in Chongqing and pushed it into great expansion and modernization within a short time.
- Cao, Shigong. The Master Architect Tao Guilin. Beijing: China Federation of Literary and Art Circles Publishing House, 1992.
- Commemorative Book of the third Anniversary of Fu Ji Construction Company Chongqing Branch, 1941.
- Xie Xuan, Study on the Urban Construction and Planning of Chongqing (1947-1949), PhD diss, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, 2011, China Academic Journal Electronic Publishing House.