AccScience Publishing / JCAU / Volume 6 / Issue 2 / DOI: 10.36922/jcau.2166

From finance to legacy: Exploring Bank of China’s modern buildings as serial cultural heritage

Jun Wang1 Mengyuan Zhou1,2* Xiaofan Du1
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1 Department of Cultural Heritage and Museology, Fudan University, Shanghai, China
2 Department of Art and Design Theory and History, School of Art, Soochow University, Suzhou, Jiangsu, China
Journal of Chinese Architecture and Urbanism 2024, 6(2), 2166
Submitted: 3 November 2023 | Accepted: 24 January 2024 | Published: 13 May 2024
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation and Revitalization of Architectural Heritage)
© 2024 by the Author(s). This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution -Noncommercial 4.0 International License (CC-by the license) ( )

In the early 20th century, China underwent profound societal transformations across cultural, political, economic, and military domains, culminating in the birth of its first national bank, the Bank of China. Enduring for over a century, the Bank of China stands as a testament to the emergence and evolution of a modern nation-state. The edifices housing this paramount institution, as well as their geographical locations and architectural designs, serve as prime examples for studying modern Chinese architecture and social history. This article, rooted in field surveys, traces the development history and current conservation status of the 26 existing Bank of China buildings. It analyzes their locations, construction backgrounds, architectural features, and functional uses. Through an assessment of the historical, artistic, scientific, and socio-cultural values of these bank buildings, this study employs the perspective of “serial cultural heritage” to propose a value-based thematic interpretation aimed at revitalization. In particular, it accentuates that analyses and interpretation of values are fundamental prerequisites for rebuilding and displaying the cultural identity of these buildings.

Bank of China
Bank branches
Conservation and revitalization
Heritage value studies
Modern bank buildings
Modern history
Serial cultural heritage
Value-based thematic interpretation
Some of the field research was supported by a grant from the Party Affairs Department of the Bank of China for a project named “Research on the Value of Historic Buildings of Bank of China and Utilization Planning.”

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Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
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