Beijing | Do You Hutong?

Lumicang Hutong | Beijing, July 5, 2010

Do You Hutong? [看!胡同] – upcoming Saturday, July 17 from 19:00 to 23:00, at the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre – is a fund-raising event hosted by the Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Center (CHP). The eve will blend cultural heritage, art, dialogue and interpretation. Our distant contribution to support awareness around this subject is our yearly coverage of the current debate and some snapshots. MovingCities features the Lumicang Hutong 禄米仓胡同.

On CHP’s website, there is an interesting write-up – ‘Capital Conversations – The Lowdown‘ – of a roundtable discussion about cultural heritage preservation that was held in Beijing, last May 23. Including a few observations that seem to haunt the hutong-debate for almost a decade [such as the influence of real-estate speculation on the disappearance of old Beijing], the meeting raised some interesting questions such as:

Why should we save the hutongs? A lot of people living in them want to move out.
Is this some elitist romantic notion? (…) Are there models in the world for urban cultural heritage preservation that China should emulate?

Both questions touch upon a tension – why would we? and if we do, how to? – that should be the fundamental driver for a renewed debate on the role of preservation in the construction of the Chinese city. And in that debate, it should be understand that it is for the collective – a social and local one, not a fleeting, pass-by one – that strategies should be developed.

The images below might not show the most appealing side of the hutong-life, rather a raw one. Located in the vicinity of Zaha Hadid’s Chaoyangmen SOHO-project, now under construction, the Lumicang Hutong was the place we resided during our first year in Beijing. According to this article:

Hutongs were also places where grain was stored to satisfy the needs of the royal court and armies and to feed the starving people in lean years. For example, Lumicang Hutong became famous because it was the location of Lumi Grain Depot. Lumi Grain Depot was built in the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644) and measured over 200 meters (218.7 yards) long, covering half length of the Lumicang Hutong.

If you’re in Beijing this Saturday, ask yourself Do You Hutong?

Lumicang Hutong | Beijing, July 5, 2010

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  • address:
    Saturday 17 July 2010 | 19:00 – 23:00
    Three Shadows Photography Art Centre
    155 Caochangdi, Chaoyang District, Beijing
    三影堂摄影艺术中心, 北京市朝阳区草场地155号, 邮编 100015, 电话 + 86 10 6432 2663
    Tickets: ¥150 in advance; ¥200 at door
    All attendees will receive an inaugural CHP annual membership. This is a private, invitation-only event. For more information, email CHP at

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