December 26 2013

Civic Participation in Jinan, China’s Historic Preservation

A historic house in a construction site in Jinan

A couple weeks ago, a series of photos were posted online that showed some historic buildings in the city of Jinan were under threat of demolition as a result of a construction site. The photos attracted a lot of comments on the Internet, and many people accused the developers of damaging the century-old buildings. The Jinan Planning Department investigated the site and found that it was a false alarm: the two historic buildings were actually protected by the developer, despite the fact that the surrounding area of the buildings had been changed completely. This case brings up the issue of historic building preservation in China, since many old buildings have not been as lucky as these two.

A historic house in a construction site in Jinan

Historic buildings bear memories from the past, so destroying them also means the loss of history and culture. In the urbanization process, old buildings in Jinan have disappeared one by one. Niu Guodong, a well-known urban studies scholar from Jinan, once said that “Jinan is changing everyday as the pace of urbanization accelerates. Hundreds of old alleys and buildings with a large amount of historic information have disappeared. As the hometown in my heart gets blurry, my confusion is getting stronger.”

Many cities have adopted the practice of relocating historic buildings to another place and reconstructing them. Even though it is a type of preservation, when the surrounding context of the historic building changes, the value of the building decreases. Under many circumstances, even though cities have comprehensive historic preservation plans, a lot of old buildings are still demolished. However, it is fortunate that every time this has happened, there have always been citizens who voice their concerns. How to channel this civic participation so that it can make an impact on the government’s decision-making is a question that we need to consider.

Do you know any cases of civic participation that have played a role in historic preservation?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

The original article, published in Chinese, can be found here.

Jue Wang

Jue Wang is a Master of Urban Planning student at the University of Southern California (USC) with a concentration in sustainable land use planning. Born in a small town along the Yellow River and having grown up in the Pearl River Delta in southeastern China, she experienced the rapid transformation of rural and urban China in the past two decades. Inspired by the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, she decided to translate her passions towards the betterment of the natural and built environment to a career in urban planning. Being an Angeleno for five years, she has claimed Los Angeles as her second home. Through her work as a translator and content coordinator, Jue hopes to help more people learn about China's planning and environmental design issues.

This entry was posted on Thursday, December 26th, 2013 at 9:38 am and is filed under Architecture, History/Preservation, Urban Development/Real Estate. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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One Response to “Civic Participation in Jinan, China’s Historic Preservation”

  1. Michael Ashford - MindMixer Marketing Manager Says:

    In the City of Los Angeles, CA, they actually used MindMixer’s online civic participation platform to update their register of historic places and to crowdsource places in the LA neighborhoods that were of architectural, historic, social and cultural significance. You can see the interaction at http://www.myhistoricla.org.

    The site drove a ton of traffic and participation and allowed for citizens to be the eyes on the ground for the City’s planning department. Participants on the site also got to map the locations of the places they deemed historic thanks to GIS integration.

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