Alvaro Leonardo discovers Abelardo Lafuente, first Spanish architect in China
Abelardo Lafuente, a name buried in history until just a few years ago, was a Spanish architect and entrepreneur who left a durable imprint in the urban landscape of early twentieth-century China, the moment of its most dramatic transformation.
Lafuente was the first Spanish architect to practise in China. From 1913 to 1931 he designed a wide range of magnificent buildings in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Canton, though it was in Shanghai where he built most of his works. It can justly be said that Lafuente contributed to the international character of this fascinating city and to its golden age, having built in the three different areas then: the International Settlement, the French Concession and out of bounds. Among his most important works are buildings for Antonio Ramos, a Spanish tycoon – today little known – who introduced the cinema to China. Lafuente also introduced the ‘Mozarabic’ architectural style in China. Some of his works still stand and can be visited today.
Abelardo Lafuente was a remarkable entrepreneur and a true cosmopolitan who lived between Spain, the Philippines, China, Mexico and the United States, but his name would have remained unknown were it not by another modern-day Spanish architect, Alvaro Leonardo, who trailed in the former’s footsteps.
Intrigued by a review in an old newspaper in 2009, Alvaro Leonardo began to investigate Abelardo Lafuente’s life and work in Shanghai and beyond, achieving to identify at least seven standing buildings. Leonardo’s research is a true voyage of discovery, fascinating on its own right and still underway. His findings have been extensively covered in the media and he has also lectured in Beijing, Shanghai and Madrid. Currently, Abelardo Lafuente’s work is exhibited at ICO museum in Madrid in the temporary exhibition, “Export, Spanish architecture abroad”.
Alvaro Leonardo is a registered architect with a Master’s Degree in Architecture from E.T.S.A. Valencia (Spain) and Urbanism from R.T.W.H. Aachen (Germany). Based in China since 2009 he has worked in various international firms in design, construction and engineering projects in seven countries and has been a guest lecturer in several institutions.
Alvaro Leonardo will give a talk on Abelardo Lafuente’s life and works on this Thursday 19th March at 19:30. This is a conference organised by the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong together with WYND.
For registration here.
WYND CO-WORKING SPACE – LOCATION
Room 1003, 43-55 Wyndham Street
Lan Kwai Fong