Tra­di­tional style to be re­stored

Hu­tong

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By CHINA DAILY

Bei­jing will re­store 1,500 hu­tong — nar­row al­ley­ways — to their tra­di­tional style over the next four years, the city man­age­ment com­mis­sion an­nounced on Wed­nes­day.

Luo Hongyi, head of the city gov­ern­ment’s en­vi­ron­men­tal construction plan­ning divi­sion, said il­le­gal stores built in hu­tong in­side the Sec­ond Ring Road will be re­moved, as unap­proved con­struc­tions have had a neg­a­tive in­flu­ence on the city’s tra­di­tional style.

“We aim to re­store the tra­di­tional feel of hu­tong by 2020,” he said.

Over the past decade, many peo­ple have de­mol­ished walls of si­heyuan — tra­di­tional court­yard res­i­dences — to build fa­cades for bar­ber shops, restau­rants or stores, Luo said, adding that they of­ten oc­cupy nar­row hu­tong, caus­ing safety and san­i­tary con­cerns.

Hu­tong and si­heyuan are con­sid­ered tourist at­trac­tions for those in­ter­ested in tra­di­tional Bei­jing cul­ture. How­ever, of­fi­cials said tear­ing down walls with­out ap­proval has been com­mon­place.

“We found more than 500 ex­am­ples of such devel­op­ment in Dongsi sub­dis­trict, which is about the size of the For­bid­den City,” said Ruan Jun, an of­fi­cial with Dongcheng district’s city man­age­ment divi­sion. “About 140 have been sealed since early Au­gust and restora­tion is un­der­way.”

Luo added that “there are at least 20 sub­dis­tricts within the Sec­ond Ring Road, and his­to­ri­ans have been con­sulted to as­cer­tain the tar­get out­look of restora­tion work”.

This is one key mea­sure Bei­jing is tak­ing to pro­mote con­ser­va­tion and restora­tion of tra­di­tional ar­chi­tec­ture in the his­tor­i­cal heart of the city. Other ap­proaches in­clude re­lo­cat­ing elec­tric­ity ca­bles un­der­ground, as well as em­ploy­ing prop­erty man­age­ment com­pa­nies, ac­cord­ing to Wu Yamei, deputy di­rec­tor of the city’s en­vi­ron­ment construction of­fice.

Ac­cord­ing to Bei­jing Youth Daily, the num­ber of shops in Nan­lu­ogux­i­ang — an 800-meter-long hu­tong and tourist at­trac­tion known for its food and sou­venir shops — has been cut by one-third to 154.

A de­tailed guid­ance on stan­dards, in­clud­ing lay­out, height, out­look and ma­te­rial, has been re­leased to reg­u­late the ar­chi­tec­tural style of the area.

Liang Shuang con­trib­uted to this story.

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