OLD BEIJING: New plan to protect historical areas.


by Carmen Álvarez

Nowadays in many cities around the world there's a trend to protect the historical and patrimonial treasures which generally include the ancient style architecture.

As we all know, the old cities areas bear the witness of the cultural civilization.

Not only protection and preservation become an urban obligation to the next generations, but also there is a true sense that historical landmarks are good to attract and fascinate visitors.

Beijing certainly is one of those cities which contain lots of valuable sites that belong to different eras of its long history.

This said, it is obvious that protecting the old city is an important responsibility since it is the face of the ancient Chinese civilization. That is why a new plan to protect Beijing's historical areas is under way and it covers up a period well until 2035. The new plan emphasizes preserving architecture along the two axes (north-south) (east-west), to showcase Beijing's magnificence and dignity.

According to the plan, the buildings along the north-south axis exhibit traditional Chinese culture while major buildings in the east-west axis (namely the famous and central Chang'an avenue), are venues for the national administration and cultural and international exchanges.

Construction in this area will be controlled to protect the environment and conserve resources and there will be relocations of organisations performing functions non-essential to the capital to the peripheral areas.

Protection of the old city area became a necessity after many historical and emblematic sites disappeared in the course of rapid urban development.

Therefore, protection should be given the utmost impotance and demolition should not happen again.

The future architecture will have to follow precise regulations. Historical landmarks have been put on the list of protected sites.

One important aspect for instance, is that the old city will not have buildings taller than the existing ones and, especially, hutongs (traditional narrow alleys with rows of single-story houses which have been the soul and main feature of Beijing during all its existence) will not be widened so that the charm of the old city is mantained.

Historical sites and places have been put on the list of protected sites and intangible cultural heritage protection will be strengthened.

There will even be a database of ancient and old trees.

But also the aim is to build and create a harmonious living environment for the people who still live in traditional houses in these areas.

The original families should continue to live in the historical areas because without them they will be soulless although some of them are willing to move out and live in more modern places.

It is central to build a premium and balanced public service system, green and efficient transportation avoiding pollution and traffic congestion, a comfortable and harmonious living environment and an intelligent urban management.

The general aim is to enable the Beijiners to enjoy the results of the adjustment of urban functions, the improvement of the environment and the cultural protection.


Grace Grisolia


Carmen Àlvarez



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Diseño: Bernarda Ghio