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City lowers skyscrapers to restore its heritage
Hangzhou News   2021-02-02 14:14   Source:CHINA DAILY

A resident dries turnip slices on a stone bridge in the old district in Shaoxing, Zhejiang province. PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY

HANGZHOU-Unlike many cities that compete to build more skyscrapers, a city in East China is undertaking a renovation project to lower its skyline.

Shaoxing in Zhejiang province has listed a total of 178 high-rise buildings in the old urban district as potential structures where floors may need to be cut.

The aim is to give the 2,500-year-old city a relatively flat and uniform skyline.

The move is designed to stop the high-rise buildings from blocking the view of the city's iconic 9.09-square-kilometer old district where literary figures in ancient China used to live and have left behind a huge cultural heritage legacy.

"In preserving Shaoxing's cultural heritage, we follow the principle of keeping alive their original forms," said Xu Juemin, director of Shaoxing's city conservation office.

Top of the 178-building renovation list is a hotel that was once the city's landmark and tallest building.

The hotel, along with another tall building, is located right in front of the entrance to Shaoxing's historical district. "Local people often dubbed the buildings unfavorably as two 'candles' that looked out of place in the historical area," said Zhang Feng, an executive of a cultural company in charge of renovating the neighborhoods. "Many visitors from out of town can't even find the entrance of the neighborhoods because of the buildings."

Creating a low skyline has long been on the mind of Shaoxing's city planners. In 2013, authorities set the height limit of buildings in its old district at 24 meters.

In 2019, after widely soliciting public opinion, the municipal legislature put into effect a regulation on protecting and utilizing the old district, in which the height limit was written into law.

After careful planning and construction, two government buildings, with 10 and 12 stories respectively, were both lowered to five stories and converted to museums.

Shaoxing has also undertaken other programs in its old district to better preserve its cultural heritage, including the relocation of government offices and the renovation of residents' homes.

Last year, 77 residential quarters in the old district were renovated. "The program not only gives the district a face-lift but also greatly improves our living condition," local resident Yang Xingquan said.

Author:  Editor:Zhang Di
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