Where the Dream Started: Branding Sea World and Shekou’s Urban Memories in China

Fong Yi Khoo, Yat Ming Loo, Jonathan Hale

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedingBook Chapterpeer-review


The concept of urban memories presents ways of rethinking how Chinese cities today are remembered and (re)constructed into the nations' collective imaginary. Sea World Plaza is a notable site of memory built upon China Merchant Group's Shekou's Story and Xi Jinping's Chinese Dream. As the first port to “open up” during Deng Xiaoping's Reform, Shekou has been made synonymous with China's rapid urbanisation and modernisation. Sea World Plaza is both a site of consumption and a site of memory – a phenomenon that is made possible because of the Chinese context. Intent on pursuing this image of the place, it comes as a surprise that the architectural representation of place chose copycat architecture and faux-Western architectural styles as expressions of modernity and openness. To understand why these foreign images were selected to form part of Sea World's memories, this chapter (i) challenges the idea that Shenzhen “lacks history” evidenced by site observations and official texts and (ii) addresses a conversion and localisation of foreign icons and architecture styles into Shekou's memory. Overall, Sea World Plaza is a hybrid space that presents underlying complexities behind the construction of memory that is unique to the Chinese context.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Art of Remembering
Subtitle of host publicationUrban Memories, Architecture and Agencies in Contemporary China
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9781040015254
ISBN (Print)9781032745305
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering
  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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