Jump to content

China heritage chief says building boom is destroying country's heritage

Recommended Posts

China heritage chief says building boom is destroying country's heritage

Heritage boss Shan Jixiang says frenetic development is wasting resources and razing valuable city centre districts to make way for 'superficial' skyscrapers

Construction workers pass a farmer and his goats in front of newly constructed residential buildings in Gushi, Henan province. Photograph: David Gray/Reuters

Frenetic development has been a disaster for conservation, wasted huge amounts of building materials and produced boring cityscapes, China's top cultural heritage official has said.

"Bulldozers have razed many historical blocks," Shan Jixiang said this week. "The protection of cultural heritage in China has entered the most difficult, grave and critical period."

The outspoken remarks from Shan, head of the state administration for cultural heritage, echo growing concern about the destruction of buildings which date back centuries.

"Much traditional architecture that could have been passed down for generations as the most valuable memories of a city has been relentlessly torn down," he said. He warned that without support, much of China's heritage would be extinguished.

The China Daily reported that in Beijing alone, 4.43m square metres (1,100 acres) of old courtyards had been demolished since 1990 – equivalent to around 40% of the downtown area.

Another planned development will require razing large swaths of land around the capital's Drum and Bell towers, until now a largely untouched district.

While many residents want improved housing, complaining about dilapidated buildings and shared public bathrooms, campaigners say it is possible to upgrade traditional homes instead of simply knocking them down.

Shan warned that small and medium-sized cities were throwing up high-rises and skyscrapers in a bid to imitate metropolises, rendering too many cityscapes "rigid, superficial and dull".

He also said many buildings had been demolished while they were still usable, adding: "That is a disaster for both the environment and resources."

According to China Daily, the average Chinese building lasts 30 years – compared to 74 years for those in the US and 132 years for British construction.

Last year, cultural heritage officials warned that urban development had destroyed tens of thousands of historic sites in the past three decades.

In 2007, the vice-minister of construction launched a similar attack on the "senseless actions" of officials who knocked down precious sites and cultural relics to produce identikit cities. His criticisms have had little, if any, effect on the drive to redevelop cities.

in http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/aug/04/china-culture-cities-heritage

Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.