CRIENGLISH.com Web Editor: Mao
The old house of famous Chinese architect Liang Sicheng and his wife Lin Huiyin has been dismantled after two years of seesawing conflict between the real estate developer and culture protectionists. This old house has caused national debate on whether traditional architecture should be sacrificed in urban development.
Our reporter Zhongqiu has the story.
The old house of Architect Liang Sicheng and his wife Lin Huiyin is located in the number 24 courtyard of Bei Zong Bu Hutong, in Beijing's Dongcheng district. Now the former residence has been razed to the ground, leaving only several beams of the paint peeled arched gateway.
Actually, the demolition concerned citizens as early as 2009. Later the local government department called for a lull in its dismantling. But according to local residents, the demolition never stopped. Lu Xiuyan has this to say.
"The demolition never stopped. The old house was turned into ruins in just a few days. You can't find anything that reminds you about the old days. Nothing is left except that old tree standing in the rubble."
The number 24 courtyard of Bei Zong Bu Hutong has been rented by the couple Liang Sicheng and Lin Huiyin from 1931 to 1937. Starting from here, they completed a great deal of research about many Chinese ancient architectural complexes. The vice president of China Federation of Literary and Art Circles Feng Jicai gives them high praise.
"Liang Sicheng and Lin Huiyin represent those Chinese people who love our culture. What they did is noble and great. We should respect and love history. The old house stands for the national consciousness which we should love."
Since the media uncovered in 2009 that the gateway and the west wing of the courtyard were dismantled forcibly, the old house attracted a lot of public attention. In July of the same year, the Beijing Municipal Commission of Urban Planning stopped the demolition. Beijing Municipal Bureau of Cultural Heritage also issued an announcement, asking the project owners adjust the construction plan to keep the courtyard. But all these government decisions were unable to affect a change and the house was pulled down in May 2011. Feng Jicai who attempted to protect the old house from 2009 sighs with deep sorrow.
"Liang Sicheng stood for the Beijing residents who love Beijing culture. He even represents the Chinese people who love Chinese civilization. Instead of protecting our culture, we dismantle it forcibly. What a shame!"
Besides the tremendous achievement Liang Sicheng accomplished when living in the hosue, his wife Lin Huiyin also opened a ladies' salon, which was the most famous cultural salon at that time. So this old house has great historical and humanistic value.
The Cultural Heritage Commission of Beijing Dongcheng District responded, saying that the demolition was the preparation for repair work. But the local residents disagree.
"We've seen the blueprint of the developer, and a 28-floor building is planned to take its place. It's not repair, definitely not."
After two years of battle, the old house was demolished. Culture protectionists say that Beijing doesn't need more concrete skyscrapers. The old houses and courtyards which look old but bear a long history and rich culture stand for our unique spirit. If the buildings are all the same in the future, what shall we say when introducing Beijing and China to the world and our descendents?
Traditional Guqin The guqin, a seven-stringed plucked zither, is China's oldest stringed instrument.
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