In the second installment of our Hutong Histories 2009-series we look into the phenomenon of punctual preservation as put on the agenda by the Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Center (BJCHP) and show an update on the destruction of the area surrounding Gulou Dajie subway station.
The BJCHP Center is a registered Chinese NGO that works at the grass roots level, dedicated to heightening awareness about preservation and protection of the hutong heritage. Recently they put the planned “Destruction of Former Residences of Famous Architects” on the agenda:
Liang Sicheng and Lin Huiyin were two of the most famous Chinese architects of the 20th Century. They designed the national emblem and the Monument to the People’s Heroes. The highest award in China for architectural design is also named after Liang Sicheng. In 1930, Liang Sicheng and Lin Huiyin left Shenyang for Beijing [then Beiping] and established their residence at No. 24 Beizongbu Hutong [formerly No. 3].( …) Even though Liang Sicheng and Lin Huiyin are internationally-renowned architects and, therefore, their residences should be preserved, the Cultural Heritage Department has so far taken absolutely no legal action to prevent the destruction. The laws on cultural heritage protection have not changed drastically over the last 20 years, but they have always demanded that sites of historical value be protected.
A recent article on Xinhua seconds this opinion. “Demolition of historic homes raises questions about Beijing’s development ” mentions that the former residence of Mao Zedong, founder of the People’s Republic of China, is under renovation. This process of punctual preservation is facing some obstacles although:
“Since 2005, we have done several preservation projects in the former homes of influential people in modern Chinese history,” says Wang Yuwei, an official with the Beijing Municipal Administration of Cultural Heritage. (…) “But it’s not feasible to relocate all the residents in all those old buildings and turn them into museums. The government cannot afford it and some of the residents are not willing to move,” Wang says.
Our upcoming post on the celebration of the collapse of pre-Olympic “Beijing Hutong Preservation”-bubble will deal with the phenomenon of the hutong “fake-overs” and “paper preservation”. An update on the yesteryear plans and ambitions by Prince Charles, SOHO China and the Qianmen-area will serve as an example. For now a couple of snapshots of ongoing destruction in the Gulou Dajie Subway station area.
Pictures by movingcities.org