From 2014 onwards URBANUS has been actively rethinking the preservation, planning, research and design of Beijing’s Hutong and Siheyuan space in the Xianyukou, Qianmen Area. Although POSITION’s work differs from that of Urbanus in approach, seeking to advance a comprehensive history and systematic analysis of current conditions, the two organizations share a similar position on the obstacles and opportunities of Hutong preservation. As contemporary perception of the preservation, operation, and redevelopment of Hutongs becomes increasingly convergent, the two organizations have decided to work in parallel in order to produce an exhibition containing a truly comprehensive analysis of existing conditions. Considering both top-down and left-right ideologies through this research, the exhibition seeks to broaden the platform for exploration and debate in order to more sensitively interrogate emerging issues.
Although history has rejected the practice of tabula-rasa demolition in traditional districts, current development practices performed under the guise of “preservation” continue to pursue construction in the absence of traditional Chinese culture. Against this prevailing modus operandi, the preservation of the Hutong courtyard fabric, improvement of extant infrastructures, and strategic injection of new elements are not only means to halt the metastasization of disorderedly construction within the traditional city fabric, but a means to providing a revitalizing urban metabolism within these districts. This research serves not only to enhance existing academic discourse on the subject, but provides an avenue for reclaiming historic preservation by advancing a collection of strategies and action-plans.
By displaying this research through both gallery-installation and video-presentation, this exhibition presents a comprehensive summary of the organizations’ work over the past two-years. In summary, this collaborative exhibition aims to unearth the essential features of the Hutong courtyard space in the east Qianmen area, ultimately providing strategic advice for the revitalization and preservation of this tragically vanishing district of Beijing.