服务器里的北京 - 老北京网

 找回密码
 注册老北京网

Resident builds virtual museum about old city

2002-12-1 11:00| 发布者: Li jing| 查看: 1345| 评论: 0

Zhang Wei, 29, is passionate about Beijing. To preserve traditional Beijing culture, Zhang launched a website www.oldbeijing.net in 2000, where he has gathered a group of like-minded friends. Zhang talked with China Daily reporter Li Jing about what he and his colleagues having been doing to help preserve traditional Beijing culture.

What prompted you to help preserve old Beijing?

I used to live in a siheyuan (traditional Chinese courtyard) in downtown Beijing. But in 2000, the old courtyard was demolished to give way to modern high-rise buildings. I took a window lattice down from the house as a keepsake. The window lattice, made from pine, was 120 years old, but the wood was still very solid and the patterns on it were quite delicate. It is the window lattice that made me recall the sweet memories of my childhood and it is the window lattice that changed the course of my life.

I quit my job in 2002 and now devote all my time and energy to the protection of old Beijing, as I found that the hutong (traditional Chinese alleys) and siheyuan were disappearing at such a rapid rate that my spare time was not enough.

Why did you set up the website?

I set up the website because I wanted my sorrow over the loss of my old courtyard. I could hardly accept the fact that such a beautiful siheyuan, experiencing the city's ups and downs for more than a century, had been demolished. Many would agree that it is a pity to tear down those hutong houses, but few would fully understand what it means apart from those who have lived there.

I hoped to build the website as a library of old Beijing lives. More and more people got to know about www.oldbeijing.net and the website now has more than 8,000 registered members.

What do you think about the changes old Beijing has experienced in recent years?

The pace of urban transformation has been speeding up in the old city and old Beijing culture is fading away.

There is an old saying that Beijing had 3,600 hutong with names and numerous unnamed hutong before 1949. However, in 2000, only 1,200 hutong still existed. In 2005, that number dropped to 700 and now there are only around 500.

In September last year, I got an old map of Beijing published in 1949, and then, I downloaded the latest map of Beijing from Google. I put the two maps together and marked the hutong in black on the old map if it had disappeared or totally lost its original appearance. At last, I found that most of Beijing on the old map had turned into black. And now, the black area keeps on growing.

I know that every culture is developing and we cannot always stick to all the old customs, but the precondition is that we have inherited the good things from the past. Tearing down the old and building the new cannot be defined as "development."

I heard you launched a hutong documentary project last year. How is it going?

The project is aimed at creating a virtual old Beijing with photos, voices and words. Since we cannot save old Beijing physically, we can at least save it virtually. The project was started in June last year and every weekend, members gather together and choose an old community to investigate. We take pictures, talk to local residents and collect historical records. At the beginning, there were only two or three people taking part each time, but now at least 50 members participate. The youngest member of the project is just nine years old and the oldest is almost 80. Some foreign friends have also joined us. About one-third of the hutong that we have visited no longer exist.

We now have 300,000 pictures and 45 million words about hutong and siheyuan on the website. I have a plan to open an online museum of old Beijing hutong and siheyuan by the end of this year.

What kind of difficulties have you experienced?

The toughest problem is the resistance from real estate developers. On many occasions, we are not allowed to enter into the houses that are to be demolished. But we have tried every means to get some record about the old buildings, even it is just a blurred picture. Another problem we have is a lack of professionals in subjects such as history, archaeology and architecture.

A shortage of money is always a major headache. Our activities are generally funded by members' donations. However, their contribution is quite limited. I have refused to post any commercial advertisements on the website because I think that would spoil its image. I'm now fully dependent on my father's small pension to living. I feel quite regretful about this, but I have no other choice.

What's about your future plans?

I'm now quite worried about how to preserve hutong and siheyuan after the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Hosting the Games is good in terms of the preservation of Beijing since the organizers promote the concept of a "People's Olympics" and the government has indeed made more efforts in heritage protection. In the next two years there will be no major demolition projects. However, what will happen after the Games? Will hutong and siheyuan be well-preserved or face a new round of demolition? We still have a lot of work to do.


(China Daily 12/15/2006 page5)


鲜花

握手

雷人

路过

鸡蛋

最新评论

2000.11.1,老北京网自创办之日起,已经运行了 | 意见反馈|百度|谷歌|老北京网

GMT+8, 2019-12-5 23:17 , Processed in 0.106643 second(s), 14 queries , Gzip On.

道义 良知 责任 担当

CopyRight © 2000-2050 oldbeijing Inc. All Rights Reserved.

返回顶部