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Former Residence of Historical Figures in Beijing

China Radio International (CRI) by Youyu on Thurs, 12/17/2009 – 11: 18

Beijing has a history of over 3,000 years. Countless famous historical figures have lived in this city. Preservation of their former residences is always a big challenge. Recently a renovation plan for the former residence of the “Father of Modern Chinese Architecture” could provide us some inspiration. Let’s follow our reporter Youyu to find out more.

Liang Sicheng is recognized as the “Father of Modern Chinese Architecture”. His wife, Lin Huiyin is also a noted 20th century Chinese architect and writer. From 1930 to 1937, they lived in a traditional courtyard in down town Beijing. During this period they discovered Zhaozhou bridge and often invited famous writers like Bing Xin to come over.

But now their former home has been severely damaged. An old neighbor says:

“Real estate companies tore most of the yard down and sold many parts, like the doors, to the waste collectors. The doors were made of very thick wood.”

He Shuzhong is the founder of the Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Center. He says the former residence of Liang Sicheng is not the only one to suffer this fate.

“Only less than one-tenth of the former residences of historical figures are being protected by the government. Usually these places are turned into museums. The government has to pay for its renovation and operation fee. It is a big burden.”

In an effort to save Liang Sicheng’s former residence without placing burden on the government, volunteer Yin Lu from the Protection Center came up with a plan.

“The architecture itself does not matter now since it is almost gone. I hope we can build it as a coffee shop and community library. We can put some pictures of Liang and his wife on the wall. This plan can make the place a part of people’s daily life, satisfy its financial needs and carry on the spirit of its former owner.”

Yin Lu adds the library will be full of architecture books. Exhibits will include pictures of the traditional architectures the couple found, the maps and construction blueprints they drew, highlighting their academic achievement.

He Shuzhong of the Protection Center appreciates this plan very much.

“To be frank, I do not like the dull atmosphere at those museum style former residences. Those designers never think about how to better attract visitors and promote the owners’ spirit. But this plan was designed by citizens who really love and respect these historical figures; it is friendlier to citizens.”

He Shuzhong says this time’s preservation of Liang Sicheng’s former residence is a complete non-governmental activity.

He is happy to see that citizens’ culture protection awareness has improved so much. Now there are only 13 historical figure’s former residences in Beijing are protected by the government. He Shuzhong hopes this plan can set an example for others.

CHP would like to thank China Radio International (CRI) for allowing us to republish the article for educational purposes. First published on CRIENGLISH.com, the official English website of CRI, providing comprehensive information on both Chinese and international topics from the only overseas broadcaster in the People’s Republic of China.

Read the original article.

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