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Opening up the Palace Museum

Updated: 2014-05-22 10:00 By Wang Kaihao (China Daily)

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Shan says opening more areas of the museum is based on renovation currently happening behind closed doors.

"To respect the history, we can only use ancient building materials during renovation to keep the original facades. But modern lightening- and earthquake-precaution methods are also applied."

Shan admits some of his rules for renovation appeared too rigid for his colleagues. But he says they were essential in order to treat the architecture with respect. For example, he did not allow any grass to grow on the walls.

"Of course I cannot promise there will be no grass. But, as long as you allow one blade to exist, there will soon be too much."

There are still some academic institutions and organizations that work inside the Forbidden City. But Shan says it is time for them to leave so there will more space for visitors and the traditional look of the architectural complex can be restored. He says all of these organizations will move out of the palace's red walls by 2016.

"Many new constructions have built in recent decades in the Forbidden City. No matter what function they serve, they must be torn down to give way to the past, and fulfill our duty of maintaining a World Heritage Site."

"I am an architect," says Shan, who was in charge of supervising the Beijing municipal office's urban construction plan. "But all I've done here is demolish buildings.

"By 2020, the 600th birthday of this palace, the only construction left will be historical relics. Then, we will have a Forbidden City of peace and splendor for the next 600 years."

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