Scholars: More needs to be done to preserve ancient architecture

( ) Updated: 2015-03-16 14:00:58

Scholars: More needs to be done to preserve ancient architecture

Shuiyu village is located in the deep mountains in the Nanjiao township in Fangshan district of Beijing, with more than 100 well-protected residential houses built in Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. [Photo by Lao Cai/Asianewsphoto]

Challenges and difficulties

"The major challenge lies in the vast number of villages in China, especially in Southern China," said He. "Because of this large volume, local governments and residents may have ignored the importance of protecting them."

Another challenge is the emigration of people from rural areas.

Many villages have become "hollow" with people flocking to cities to pursue better lives. Without people, there will naturally be no funding to preserve what desperately needs to be protected.

"Ancient architecture, be it in China or abroad, will degrade if there is no one living in it, no one using it and no one maintaining it," said Zhang. "To attract locals to keep using them, ancient architectures must fulfill the needs of a modern lifestyle."

The lack of understanding about the value of ancient architecture, by both researchers and the public alike, is also a key factor.

According to Zhang, researchers don't know enough about the historical and cultural value of ancient architecture so it's difficult to pinpoint what and where to protect.

The longing for modernity by those living in rural areas also results in less and less emphasis placed on tradition.

"They don't realize how important these villages are, and falsely think that development can only be achieved with destroying old houses and building new ones. With scarce design resources, architecture in villages face a gap, where old buildings are deemed lagging behind and new buildings blindly copy those of the city. The result is neither fish nor fowl; you get villages looking neither like villages nor cities," said He.

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