‘CHING’ – A SHORT ETYMOLOGICAL EXPOSÉProfile
by Christopher Pierce, Intermediate 9 Unit Master
(originally published in AArchitecture 20)
22 October 2013
Ching's Yard, Bedford Square
A few years ago amidst the petty furor over the installation of industrial-grade carpet tiles and bright white electrical ‘trunking’ in our, dare I say, frequently over-fetishised Georgian rooms, also came the re-attribution of those hallowed chambers with an equally industrial-grade provenance. An endless string of ‘Open Rooms’ supplanted revered ‘Studios’ and ‘Jury Rooms’. (Although thinking about it, could ‘studio’ and ‘jury’ really be more coveted than ‘open’? I can think of a lot of cases when I’d plump for the latter.)
It was at this time that I became fixated on the more quixotically coined void (Hail Miraj and Martin!) in the centre of our universe, universally known as Ching’s Yard. How many times has Shin sent you there for endless hours without you ever giving it a second thought? One day while recently working in Ed’s archives I came across this photo of its namesake in Harlequinade.
[caption id="attachment_2165" align="alignnone" width="243"] Ching, published in Harlequinade October 1923[/caption]
Owing much to my general cultural ignorance, it turned out that the highly coveted outdoor workshop space owed nothing to what I imagined was a highly touted recent Asian graduate or Taoist school tutor, but rather to a bald-headed, bow-tie wearing, tea-sipping Englishman of future radiator fame from the early twentieth century. Who would have known how apt the AA Principal’s words were when exactly ninety years ago, Howard Robertson praised Ching as ‘In modo suaviter’? Even today his presence is still ‘gentle in manner’, albeit in a disembodied, dirty mesh-netted kind of way.
[caption id="attachment_2166" align="alignnone" width="360"] Ching's Yard hosts the Strawberry Table for Projects Review c.1989
Image credit: Valerie Bennett[/caption]
For more information:
Read AArchitecture 20 online
AA Archives online