Skip to main content

Volume 3 Supplement 3

Shanghai: Heritage at the Crossroads of Cultures

Overnight at the Crossroads: Abelardo Lafuente’s Architectural Legacy for ‘The Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels Ltd.’ in Shanghai


The business success of the most important hotel company in Asia in the 20th century, and therefore of its owners, the Kadoorie Family, is intertwined with the life of the only Spanish architect in the city of Huangpu. A long-forgotten story, its discovery reveals the interests, tastes and cultural mix of the multinational community that inhabited the most open city of the continent. Abelardo Lafuente García-Rojo (Madrid 1871–Shanghai 1931) worked uninterruptedly for the ‘Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels Ltd.’ (HSH) for ten years since 1916. In that decade, he carried out interior renovations in eight HSH hotels in the cities of Shanghai, Hong Kong and Shameen in Canton. Along with that, he worked for many clients and introduced the Spanish neo-Arab style in several buildings which still stand today in the city under unknown authorship. His professional career in China—linked to the HSH—is a case study of the cultural melting pot of the city of Shanghai. Lafuente is nowadays a foot note in Shanghai’s architecture history and yet he deserves a chapter of his own, and this article is the first step.


  • Field, Andrew. 2019. “Building Shanghai’s Dreamworld: Architects and Elite Ballroom Designs of the 1920s and 1930s.” Built Heritage 3 (3): 34–48.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • French, Paul. 2010. The Old Shanghai A-Z. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hibbard, Peter. 2010. Beyond Hospitality. London: Marshall Cavendish Editors.

    Google Scholar 

  • HK_Heritage. “The Kadoorie Family.” A Borrowed Place: Jewish Refugees in Hong Kong. Accessed 25 September, 2019.

  • Leonardo Pérez, Alvaro. 2019. “Abelardo Lafuente García-Rojo (1871–1931), a Spanish Architect in China.” PhD diss. Alcala Henares University.

  • Morton Cameron, W. H., and Feldwick W. 1917. Present Day Impressions of the Far East and Prominent and Progressive Chinese at Home and Abroad. London: Globe Encyclopedia Company.

    Google Scholar 

  • Romero Salas, J. M. (1921) 2015. Spain in China: Chronicle of a Journey. Reprint, Google Books: University of Massachusetts.

    Google Scholar 

  • Toro Escudero, Ignacio. 2012, “Spain and the Spaniards in Shanghai in the inter-war period.” PhD Diss., Universitat Oberta de Catalunya.

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Álvaro Leonardo Pérez.

Rights and permissions

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Leonardo Pérez, Á. Overnight at the Crossroads: Abelardo Lafuente’s Architectural Legacy for ‘The Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels Ltd.’ in Shanghai. Built Heritage 3, 21–33 (2019).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: