Beijing hutongs take brand-new look
[Photo: from VCG]
Beijing's hutongs, or narrow alley ways formed by residential houses, are a symbol of traditional Chinese culture.
Now, hutongs have taken on brand-new looks, following years of renovation.
Jin Guomin has been running a Halal restaurant in the Xi Yan He Hutong in Beijing's Dashilanr sub-district since 1981.
With the renovation of hutongs that was rolled out several years ago, he says the living and business environment are getting better.
"I was born and raised here. I'm now 55 years old. I have a decent income. I want a better environment. Just looking at that environment fills me with joy. It is also with the times, because everyone is changing."
Located near a traditional business street, the Xi He Yan Hutong is home to more than 990 households and was once filled with disorderly construction projects and junk storage.
After five years of renovation, illegal construction has been cleared out of the narrow space, while other issues, such as disorderly electric wires and illegal division of rental space, have also been checked.
69-year-old Na Baoping, who lives in the hutong, says the changes are witnessed by every resident.
"I've lived here for almost 70 years and have witnessed the changes happening to the street. Several years ago, I saw the tubes and wires re-installed into the ground, and the roads widened, which made me very happy. Now, we feel very safe as security personnel patrol the area around the clock. The whole place is getting better."
Meanwhile, city planners have also invited experts to form a think tank that will guide them through the designing of living quarters.
According to the director of Dashilanr sub-district office Su Hao, under the support of the think tank, the Xi He Yan Hutong has achieved success in renovating its parking and fire protection systems.
He says the space created can be used for cultural and entertainment purposes.
"A 'Lan Chuang Yuan' has been established after space was made at No. 204 of the street, which is an incubation base for unemployed personnel. At No. 206, a 'Min Yi Fang' has been built for people with disabilities to showcase their art works."
As the renovation has been carried out in full swing, Beijing also seeks to preserve the capital's function and spirit.
China Railway Construction Engineering Group chief planner Zuo Yugang says that Beijing seeks to preserve the streets with history and cultural features.
"Our priority is to preserve cultural heritage. Be it a restaurant or a tube, the principle applies all the same. Every move needs to incorporate the preservation of cultural heritage."
Now the Xi He Yan Hutong is also giving a voice to the residents in the renovation process. Meetings will be held to seek recommendations from them as new plans are being made.