City Government Backs Hutong Revival

Oliver Wainwright reports for the The Guardian that Beijing Design Week architects have carried out “micro-interventions” to revive the historical Dashilar hutong community with the support of a municipal government that once planned to bulldoze the area:

In any other context, such installations might not be remarkable, part of the current trend for “meanwhile” uses on vacant sites. But what comes as a surprise is to learn that these projects have been initiated and endorsed by the municipal government – which only a few years ago had the entire district in the sights of its bulldozers.“There has been a radical shift in the perception of how this neighbourhood should be developed,” says Neill Gaddes, a New Zealand architect who for the last three years has worked for Beijing Dashilar Investment Limited (BDI), a subsidiary of the state-owned Guang An Holding, tasked with upgrading the area. “There is a real push towards improvements and adaptive reuse, rather than wholesale demolition and rebuild.”The shift has been spurred in part by the disaster that is all too visible just a few blocks east. In the run-up to the 2008 Olympic Games, a vast swathe of Qianmen, a thriving commercial district for the last 500 years, was razed and replaced by an inflated Disneyfied version of itself, a process that saw local businesses forcibly displaced by big-name brands dressed in pastiche facades.[Source]


Read more about Beijing's historical hutongs via CDT. See also the official website for this year's Beijing Design Week.