Beijing withdraws demolition plan for late writer’s residence

An old Beijing neighborhood may be safe from the wrecking ball thanks to the fame of its former tenant, Chinese writer Lu Xun.

Wang Shaofeng, head of Beijing’s Xicheng District, said Lu’s former residence will not be demolished, and its surrounding community, which is known for its traditional courtyard-style homes, will also be preserved.

“The district government has decided to halt the demolition operation and is considering restoring the residence to its original appearance with the help of historical records and photos,” Wang said.

Lu, a 20th century literary master, composed famous works such as “New Year Sacrifice” during his short stay in the No. 84 Courtyard in Zhuanta Hutong from 1923 to 1924.

The structure’s fate attracted much attention after the Xicheng district government announced plans to bulldoze the building to make way for public green space, prompting calls for better protection of historical architecture amid rampant urbanization.

Many netizens feared the residence might meet the same fate as that of architect Liang Sicheng and his wife Lin Huiyin, which was reportedly torn down by a real estate developer in January.

In response to public outcry, Wang said that the district government would enhance protection of its 184 cultural heritage sites, including 23 former residences of famous people.

Beijing is famous for its traditional communities composed of “siheyuan,” or rectangular courtyard homes, and winding alleys called “hutong.” Many of them, however, have disappeared amid modern Beijing’s penchant for glitzy high-rises and modern apartment blocks.

Xinhua