Many people viewas a tolerant city, where people can freely bring their habits, lifestyles and skills to the best play, the essence of which will eventually be assimilated into the city’s style. This is how Qilou buildings, or arcade-houses, took root in Guangzhou, capital city of province , eventually becoming landmarks there.
The history of commercial arcade building can be dated back to ancient Greece some 2,000 years ago; it then became popular in Europe and was introduced to the world only in recent times.
Guangzhou is among the first coastal cities to embrace foreign culture and begin modernization. During the Ming and Dynasties, it was the only commercial port. The commercial buildings of ‘the thirteen hong’ are considered the earliest model of the later Qilou buildings. At the beginning of the twentieth century, when the city government began to widen the roads, this 18th century western architectural style was blended with the traditional Cantonese construction features, thus giving birth to the unique Qilou buildings.
Most of the Qilou buildings in Guangzhou are three or four storied, with a protruding structure, or arcade, stretching above from the second storey over the sidewalk. These arcades are linked together by the side of the street, forming a shaded corridor, which keeps the shops along the sidewalk as well as the pedestrians safe from the scorching sun and rain. Some arcades last for as long as several hundreds or even hundreds of dozens meters. The weather of Guangzhou is always changing and there is a saying going that ‘ Guangzhou ‘s weather in May is like the expressions of a young baby, which can change in a second.’ Therefore, Qilou buildings, which are suitable for the unpredictable sub-tropical climate in Lingnan areas, and which also provides great convenience for the local people, once was the main form of architectural style in Guangzhou.