LIVING IN AN ANTIQUE
work on looks like a biscuit that had fallen from the sixth floor. That’s the sort of condition they are in before we start restoration works,” said Zhang.
“It’s undeniable that we are making a living from them, but there is nothing wrong. What we are doing now is definitely better than leaving them to crumble,” argued Zhang, in response to critics that the houses lose their roots after they are dismantled and shipped around.
In 2012, the government of Suzhou, Jiangsu province, introduced a series of new regulations regarding the protection of old houses and villages, allowing private capital to be invested in historically important sites.
According to Yu Feng, vice-chairman of the Collection Association Club in Yiwu, Zhejiang province, there were no policies pertaining to the sale and resale of antique houses prior to the release of these regulations. He added that as long as a house was not listed by the local or central government as a protected relic, it would be up for grabs to the tens of thousands of collectors.
Yu, a logistics magnate from the city that is home to the world’s largest trading center of small commodities like zips and socks, called antique houses “an ultimate item for any Chinese collector”, as it makes for the perfect place to house the antique porcelainwares, furniture and paintings collected.
However, others have argued that the thriving house-collecting market is actually accelerating the demise of these antique buildings, seeing as to how collectors actively search for old homes to knock down and rebuild. This is aided by the fact that the residents of these old homes, most of whom struggle to make ends meet in life, would usually be more than happy to trade their homes for much-needed cash.
Many parts of the Ahn Luh Zhujiajiao hotel were restored using the materials from antique collector Qin Tongqian's private collection.