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Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Center (CHP) is a small grassroots, legally-registered NGO working to protect cultural heritage across China.

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Heritage Trail project

Uncertain Future: The Fate of the Residence of Liang Sicheng and Lin Huiyin

This summer, citizens of Beijing and local media joined forces to start a cultural movement. The goal was to prevent the demolition of the former residence of two of China’s most famous architects, Liang Sicheng and Lin Huiyin. At the time, the government made clear that the residence would not be destroyed and they would give their approval to a restoration plan after seeking experts opinions, local residents’ participation, and the input from the land’s developer.

The summer heat was swept away by a brief autumn, and now winter is upon us. Every week, we go to the area to investigate, but to date, no progress has been made. We fear the surviving residence could be damaged by a snowstorm or razed to the ground in the name of protecting nearby residents. We have been deeply involved in this process and believe that the preservation of Liang Sicheng and Lin Huiyin’s residence is a prerequisite for future cultural protection projects. If this area is not protected, then this generation of Chinese people will lose the moral authority to further discuss saving cultural heritage.

In order to encourage the public’s participation in this project, we have convened a conference entitled “The Protection of Liang Sicheng and Lin Huiyin’s Former Residence and its Relation to the Construction of Civil Society.” We would like to extend our gratitude to the China Construction News for its major contributions to the project. Thanks to their report (Chinese only), more attention has been paid to the issue and public support is expanding. We also recorded a short video to increase awareness and understanding of the demolition case.

Despite government admonishments to do so, the Beijing Municipal Administration of Cultural Heritage is yet to classify the area as a “cultural relic,” thereby ensuring its legal protection in accordance with the People’s Republic of China Cultural Preservation Law. We have been cooperating with several citizens to legally appeal to the Beijing Municipal Administration of Cultural Heritage, which turned down our application. The agency above the Beijing Municipal Administration of Cultural Heritage, the National Cultural Relics Bureau’s handling of the case, however, has been satisfactory and we hope that there will be an acceptable outcome.

A particular point of concern is our inability to determine whether we are allowed to provide the property developer with a proposal for the protection of the site. According to media reports, the developer has hit hard times, and there is a risk that it will be auctioned off. We are worried that the developer will be unable to properly deal with our proposal at this time.

We also would like to thank our volunteers from Qinghua University’s Architecture Department. Thanks to their respect for Liang Sicheng and Lin Huiyin, their understanding of the importance of cultural heritage protection, and their ability to work within the confines of our limited budget, the volunteers were able develop a comprehensive, creative proposal for the protection of the site. Beijing already has several commemoration halls for famous residents. Often the sites become repetitive and monotonous, and an aura of officialdom pervades the designs. Our volunteers have worked to avoid these pitfalls and have developed a restoration plan that will hopefully be able to interest the developer and government departments.

Liang Sicheng and Lin Huiyin’s former residence still faces the possibility of destruction. We will continue to work hard for the local residents and ancient buildings. We hope that everyone will remain concerned over the fate of this project and participate in the ongoing process.

CHP would like to thank our volunteer translator, Michele Scrimenti, for his outstanding translation of this article.

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