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This book is about the evolution of a central Chinese metropolis from 1949 to the end of the 21st century. It presents this evolution from the perspective of both its urban and architectural forms, which are replaced within their geographical and historical contexts. Xi’an, capital of the province of Shaanxi in northwest China, is of great interest for the study of contemporary Chinese cities. Its long history is attested by the archaeological sites of the ancient imperial capitals, particularly of the Han and the Tang dynasties, not to mention the discovery in 1974 of the terracotta army of the Qin emperor Shihuangdi 30 kilometres north of the city. Xi’an is now one of the major poles of development in western China. Beyond its interest as a monographic study, the purpose of this publication is to show the application of the models for transforming contemporary Chinese urban space, as well as their adaptation in the regional context. In the middle of the book is an album of 43 plates with maps and ground plans that provide spatial and multi-level points of reference, especially for the evolution of the contemporary urban form. This album creates a link between the contents of the various articles, most of which are illustrated, and so reinforces the coherence of the whole. This book features contributions by Chinese, French and Norwegian authors working within a cooperative framework that associates three educational and research institutions: the research laboratory of the IPRAUS at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Paris-Belleville, the Department of Architecture of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim and the PVP research team at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture et de Paysage in Bordeaux.


École d’architecture et de paysage de Bordeaux


an ancient city in a modern world

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Editions Recherches

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We would like to express our deep gratitude to all those who have given their help and support to this project. First of all to our affiliated institutions and their directors : the Ecole nationale supérieure d’architecture de Paris-Belleville (ENSAPB), the Ecole nationale supérieure d’architecture et de paysage de Bordeaux (ENSAP Bx) and the Faculty of Architecture and Fine Art of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim. They supported us during the long years of our research through optimal administrative, technical and material working conditions within the framework of cooperative programs. We received assistance from our research departments, the Institut parisien de recherche en architecture, urbanisme et société (IPRAUS–Nathalie Lancret, Emmanuel Cerise), in Paris and the Production de la ville et du patrimoine (PVP) in Bordeaux. We would also like to thank Ineka Amesz from the research department (ENSAP Bx) for her translations and Amélie Codugnella and Wijane Noree for their help in mapping. In China we benefitted from the cooperation of the College of Architecture of the Xi’an University of Architecture & Technology, and especially from the assistance of Liu Kecheng, Dean of the College of Architecture, Xiao Li, Liu Hui, junior members of the academic staff Ren Yunying and Hsu Dongming, and of Shi Hongshuai (Shaanxi Normal University) and Wang Tao (Tsingua University). This book was financed by the Bureau de la Recherche Architecturale et Urbaine (Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication), The Research Council of Norway, and by our respective universities in France and Norway. We wish to thank all of them for their generous support.

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Bruno Fayolle Lussac, Harald Høyem, Pierre Clément


Six years have passed since the turbulent period between 1949 and 2000, which is the main focus of this book. The rate of change in Xi’an has not slowed down. On the contrary, the galloping replacement of urban tissue and the rapid construction of new urban areas continue. Why is this so ? An overall factor is, of course, the general economic growth of China. The growth rate of 8-10 % per year surpassed that of almost all the other countries in the world. Additionally, during the two last decades of the 20 th century, Xi’an, as an inland city, was falling behind in development in comparison to the cities of the coastal areas, where investments were concentrated in the first years following Deng Xiaoping’s introduction of economic liberalism with Chinese characteristics as a national policy. The escalating economic differences between coastal and inland regions turned into a headache for the central authorities, resulting in heavy inland investments to reduce the growing dissatisfaction caused by major differences in living conditions. It is remarkable to notice how often the notion of “harmony”, as a basic goal for the national policy, occurred in speeches of the 11 th National People’s Congress in Beijing in March 2005. The same congress approved an anti-secession law that underscored the tensions with Taiwan, which in turn tended to direct private investments toward “safer” zones in the country — i.e. the inland regions. The combined stream of public and private investments into the inland provinces, where Xi’an is a major urban centre, has added fuel to the fire, giving new opportunities for rapid urban development and growth — for better or worse. Xi’an faced a special challenge in the late 1950 s to early 60 s when Chinese policy was based on an analysis that predicted a possible third world war. Important national units of production, education and administration were duplicated to ensure continuity in daily life and economic development — in case the coastal zones, where most of the central functions were located, were bombed. The city of Xi’an was a major participant in that process, contributing space for many of these duplicated units. It may be facing a similar situation now, as national and international capital are seeking investment objects in huge volumes and at a rapid rate.

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Xi’an – an ancient city in a modern world

In the modernisation period of China between 1949 and the end of the century, which coincided with the first 50 years of the People’s Republic under the Communist Party government, a comprehensive and large-scale transformation of the major cities of the country was undertaken. Like so many cities throughout Asia in which modern urban conceptions affected and replaced the traditional urban culture in a rapid and turbulent manner, the Chinese metropoles have been given new forms. Some would say completely new forms, while others would maintain that they are in fact not that new. It probably depends on the level of abstraction one refers to when investigating and reflecting on the changes. In order to see which understanding is the most relevant, it is necessary to go deeply into the matter by studying the urban development during the entire 1949-2000 period, against the background of the turbulent and violent Ming Guo period (the years of the Kuomingtang-governed republic after 1911, including the Second World War, the Japanese invasion, and the civil war between the Communist and the Kuomingtang parties), and all the more so when searching for the footprints of the millennia of imperial dynasties in historic times. Xi’an is a perfect object of study in this respect. It has a long history — 3,000 years — during which it was the imperial capital of 12 dynasties, all the while acting as the eastern terminal of the Silk Road. During the Tang dynasty (618-907 AD), the peak period of its history, Xi’an was probably the largest city in the world, with over a million inhabitants. During this period Xi’an — then called Chang’an — was a cosmopolitan city with comprehensive relations with other countries — culturally, commercially, and technologically. Regarding urban form, it is interesting to note that its urban pattern was subsequently exported to cities like Kyoto and Nara in Japan. Later, its importance was reduced, but it still played a central role in the province, as well as on the national level. Kublai Khan’s son became the garrison commander of Chang’an in 1272 AD. During the Ming dynasty, (1368-1644 AD), Xi’an had another peak period, not as a national capital, but as an important regional power centre that had been rebuilt and renovated at the end of the 14 th century. The City Wall, the Drum Tower and the Bell Tower are Ming dynasty monuments that enjoy state protection today. Curiously enough, the Empress dowager Ci Xi fled from Beijing and made Xi’an the capital for a short time at the beginning of the 20 th century, building on the political ruins of the Qing dynasty. More importantly, after the capture of Chiang Kaishek in 1936 (in Hot Springs, in the vicinity east of the city), it became the headquarters of the 8 th Army — the joint Kuomingtang and Communist army that had been created to defeat the Japanese invaders. To mention only some of the highlights of Xi’an’s history. No wonder that Xi’an is regarded as a major historical city not only on a national level, but also on a global level, attracting millions of tourists every year. Today it is the capital city of Shaanxi Province with a population of six million in the metropolitan area and it is still growing at a rapid pace, all the while attracting substantial domestic and foreign investments.

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The combination of a rich history and an ongoing, dynamic development raises many interesting questions. How has Xi’an withstood the rapid transformations of the last half of the 20 th century ? How is history legible in the urban form of today ? Is it possible to find a cultural continuity in the urban transformations ? What is the impact of the old, urban pattern on modern development ? Which factors have affected the transformation of the urban form the most : the geographic basis, the historic urban forms, the demographic development, political programs, technological progress, the economy, or socio-cultural factors ? What is the discourse of Xi’an, considered as a historic city ? What does it mean for Xi’an to be a modern, Chinese city ? It would, of course, be useless to try to give a complete answer to all of those interrelated questions. The ambition of this book, however, is to present material that could elucidate the problem from different viewpoints, in the hopes that the sum of the multiperspective information will improve the understanding of the development of urban form in Xi’an during the 50-year period after the communist take-over. Another ambition has been to collect graphic material on this essential period of urban change in Xi’an that will hopefully be useful to future research and of interest to the lay-reader. This book consists of two main sections. One section contains maps, plans and drawings that are partly from before 1949 and partly illustrations from the master plans of 1953, 1980 and 1995. The maps are commented to explain their context and their contents. Some basic difficulties occurred when collecting the map material. Our intention has been to stick to the original versions as closely as possible, but for some periods, especially before the Cultural Revolution (1966-75), this objective has been hard to meet. Original maps and plans are lacking because huge numbers of original graphic material, as well as complete archives, disappeared or were demolished during that disastrous period. The second section of this book consists of a collection of articles, commenting the development of the urban form of Xi’an in different ways : historically, thematically and through case studies. The authors have all been professionally involved in the development of urban forms in Xi’an, directly as actors or indirectly as researchers in the field. Even if the emphasis and focus are on the 1949-2000 period, historic material before 1949 is given a rather comprehensive presentation, since it has been understood that the long urban history of Xi’an introduced a degree of permanence into the later growth and development of the metropolitan area. The book presents itself as a description of a grid-pattern city — The Square City, as Xi’an has been called — focusing on how this pattern was introduced and developed through historic time, and how its urban form was affected by the events and ideas that characterised the first half-century of the People’s Republic of China.

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Xi’an – an ancient city in a modern world


Introduction Bruno Fayolle Lussac, Harald Høyem, Pierre Clément.



Geographical and historical background 17


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first part

introduction Zhu Shiguang, Xiao Ailing Main geographical environmental characteristics and their changes during the historical periods in the Xi’an area


Heng Chye Kiang Sui-Tang Chang’an : Inventing a new urban paradigm in East Asia


Wu Hongqi, Shi Hongshuai The Xi’an city frame evolution from the Yuan to the Late Qing dynasty


Ren Yunying The evolution of the city’s spatial form and the structure of Xi’an (1840 - 1949)

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mapping Xi’an


introduction Geographical data : The context of the city 01. a. Administrative divisions of China, Shaanxi province, Xi’an  b. Xi’an municipality and Shaanxi’s administrative units 02. Geography of Shaanxi province 03. a. Geography of Guanzhong Area, b. Section of the Wei he valley 04. Xi’an municipality from 1949 to 1983 05. a. Municipality administrative divisions (2005)  b. Xi’an city districts (qu)



Thematic approaches : Cultural heritage, green space, networks 27. Protection plan of Xi’an city's cultural heritage in 1980 28. a. Central city protection plan (1995) b. Outline of visual corridors 29. Walled city around 1989 30. Protection plan of cultural heritage for the Ming city. (Master plan of 1980) 31. a. Protection plan, 1983 b. Protection plan, 1986 32. Building height zones in the Ming city : Master plan of 1995 33. Walled city in 1995 34. a. Bell tower and South gate b. Southern outskirts (south west) 35. a. The parks and gardens system from before 1949 to 2002  b. The different images of the parks and gardens in the periods mentionned 36. a. Plan of urban green space development (1989)  b. Plan of the city green spaces, parks and forests system : Master plan of 1995 37. Traffic network in 1989 38. Traffic network of the urban area in 1989 39. Traffic network of the urban area in 1995 40. Traffic network project, Master plan of 1995 41. Transportation network of the municipality in 1989 42. a. Xi’an urban transport project (2000) : at the scale of the municipality  b. Xi’an urban transport project (2000) : third ring road 43. Xi’an in 2004

Plans and historical maps until 1949 06. Ancient capitals and the city of Xi’an, from 1134 BC to 1644 AD 07. a. Map of Tang Chang’an (Song dynasty, 1080) : fragment of the stele b. Restitution of the city grid pattern c. The blocks network: reconstituted from several fragments 08. a. Xi’an map (16th century) under the Ming dynasty  b. Restitution of the Ming city’s plan in 1611  c. Site of the Ming city with regard to localizations of former Tang and Yuan cities 09. Plan of the city in 1668 10. Plan of the city in 1735 11. Map of the city in 1893, at the end of the Qing dynasty 12. a. Xi’an in 1933  b. Xi’an in 1933 and urban sprawl in 2002 13. Map of Xi’an in 1949 (1) 14. Map of Xi’an in 1949 (2) 15. a. Aerial view from the West  b. The urban grid, from the 1930 s to 1949 : comparison between the aerial view and the map of Xi’an in 1949 (cf. plate 14)  c. The gates and the rampart (photographs)  d. The south-east corner of the city in 1938. View from the city wall 16. Outline of the urban area extents from the Tang to 1960


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Master plans and phases of urban development 17. a. Master plan (1953-1972)  b. Contour lines surimposed on the Tang Chang’an grid pattern  c. Contour lines surimposed on the master plan 18. Urban extension from the 1930 s to the 1970 s 19. a. Topographic plan of Xi’an in 1974 b. Outline of the superimposed extents : plan of 1974 / first master plan (1953) 20. City plan of Xi’an in1980 21. a. Master plan 1980-2000  b. Outline of the extents of Xi’an : in 1974 and from the master plan 22. Urban area around 1989 23. a. Situation of central urban districts in 1995  b. Main roads and street network of the master plan of 1980 24. Urban area in 1995 25. a. Master plan 1995-2020 : urban area and satellite towns  b. Yangliang master plan c. The district of Yangliang in the Municipality 26. a. Master plan of the central city  b. The Ming city urban area compared to the master plans areas (1953, 1980, 1995)

Emmanuel Cerise, Bruno Fayolle Lussac, Nathalie Lancret, in collaboration with Dorothée Rihal : Chinese/English translation



Dorothée Rihal Glossary English/Chinese/Pinyin 

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Xi’an – an ancient city in a modern world



second part

planning after 1949 structure and elements 139





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introduction Bruno Fayolle Lussac The master plans of Xi’an between 1953 and 1995 : From grid plan to radioconcentric plan Wang Tao Townscape transitions in Xi’an. A brief record after 1949 Liu Hui, Yin Lei, Wang Fang The parks and gardens system in Xi’an since 1949, context and strategies of location, function and forms : a critical analysis Harald Høyem Housing policy and urban pattern. Housing development in Xi'an 1949–2000.

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third part


fourth part

Cultural heritage

Plan and politics





Nicolas Fiévé Chang'an, model capital and model of capitals

Eir R. Grytli, Harald Høyem 210 Monument and context in a changing urban landscape


Harald Høyem Physical environment and cultural identity. The Hui nationality in Xi’an

Harald Høyem 222 Permanence and change in the muslim Drum Tower District



introduction Bruno Fayolle Lussac State listed monuments and stakes of urban development : the case of the great archaeological sites


Jean-Paul Loubes The regular city and expression of identity : the Drum Tower District in Xi’an


Xiao Li The change and the lost memories of Xi’an Zhengxue street

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Pierre Clément Xi'an and chinese cities in project. Reading the city today, or the geometry of plan.




China : chronological references



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In order to understand the basis for the urban evolution of Xi’an in the period after 1949, it seems necessary and useful to introduce Xi’an’s geographical environment, the origin of its urban form and the evolution of this form through history up to that date. Zhu Shiguang and Xiao Ailing describe the geographical characteristics of the Guangzhong basin where Xi’an is situated, how these changed over time, how these changes were the precondition for human settlement, and finally how human activities have affected the geographical conditions. In the glorious past of Xi’an, in its various locations in the Guanzhong area, a prototypical plan for an imperial capital was developed. Its gridiron structure referred partly to the Cosmos and partly to the rural jingtian — the well-field pattern of the countryside. Heng Chye Kiang explains and analyses those origins, reflecting on the geometric patterns of the urban developments of Chang’an (Xi’an) and Luoyang, the city which took over Xi’an’s role after the Tang dynasty. Virtual computer graphics permit the grandeur and scale of the city of the Tang dynasty to be visualized. The international influence of the Chang’an prototype is mentioned only in passing, but further developed in Nicolas Fiévé’s article later in the book. In the articles by Wu Hongqi, Shi Hongshuai and Ren Yuning the phases of concrete development of the gridiron-based plan are described and explained with reference to the political and technological transformations from the Yuan dynasty until 1949, date of the foundation of the People’s Republic of China. The texts fully demonstrate the force and the flexibility of the prototype which, according to historic sources describing the Zhou dynasty capital, was developed 3,000 years ago.

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Main Geographical Environmental Characteristics

Zhu Shiguang, Xiao Ailing Center for History Environment and Socio-Economic Development in Northwest China at Shaanxi Normal University, Xi’an, 710062

Main Geographical Environmental Characteristics and their changes during the historical periods in the Xi’an area.

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Guanzhong is an area in which many emperors set up their capitals during the historical periods. The city of Xi’an is located in the centre of the Guanzhong Plain, which is in the middle of the Shaanxi Province, the geometrical centre of China. It has remarkable geographical characteristics, a favourable natural environment and a warm and humid climate. Xi’an achieved its development during a period of 3,000 years. The reason why it played such an important role in the history of China and of the world is to be found in its remarkable geographical situation, on which we wish to elaborate in the following. My first topic is the significance of the conditions of the Guanzhong plain in the perspective of the whole country, and my second deals with its unique geographical features. Of course, throughout history changes occurred to the natural environment of the Xi’an district due to the alteration of natural features and the influence of human activities. The changing environment had some influence on the development of the city as well.

Geographical Position, Transportation and Communications Xi’an lies on the banks of the Weihe River of the Guanzhong Plain in the province of Shaanxi, which is bounded by Mount Qinling to the south, a hilly loess area north of the Weihe River to the north, Ling River and the Ba Yuan mountains to the east, and Mount Taibai and the Qinghua hilly loess area west of the Heihe River to the west. The width from east to west is 204 kilometers, and the width from north to south is 100 kilometers, which gives a total area of 938 square kilometers. The Guanzhong Plain is one of the birthplaces of the Chinese nation and splendid culture, and the cradle of the city of Xi’an. The Guanzhong Plain is bounded by Baoji City in the west and the Yellow River in the east  ; the western part is much broader than the eastern part. The width of the eastern part is only about one kilometer, while the width of the western part is over 80 kilometers. It is approximately 360 kilometers long from the east

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Zhu Shiguang, Xiao Ailing

to the west, and is also known as “the 800-kilometer Qin Plain”. Its area is 34,000 square kilometers. The western part of the plain is high, while the eastern part is low, with an altitude varying between 325 and 750 meters above sea level. It was formed by the Weihe River, by the continuous sinking of the earth’s crust and sedimentation. The first-, second- and third-level river terraces, flood land and the floodplain-alluvial fan visible today are the result of the depositing of mud and sand, and the accumulation of gravel. Xi’an has great geographical advantages, lying, as it does, at the heart of Mainland China. The town of Yong Le, the exact centre of the country, lies in JingYang County, 45 km from Xi’an. It is the present geographical centre of China, and has often had this position in the course of history. Since the dynasties of the Central Plains in the earlier days of Chinese history were often faced with the pressure of the minorities in the northwest border areas, and because Xi’an lay at the intersection between the borderlands and the central part of China, no other city was better positioned than Xi’an to be the capital at the time.[] The natural mountain passes, in addition to man-made constructions, served as protection for the capitals, and at the same time provided the means of access between the Central Plains and the rest of the world. From the Han and Tang dynasties onward, Xi’an was the pivot of the famous Silk Road. The ancient Silk Road started at Chang’an (as Xi’an was called at the time), went through the He Xi Passage, passing the northern and southern part of Mount Tian, crossed middle and western Asia, and finally led to Europe. The traffic between Xi’an and the Central Plains was convenient either by water or overland.[] The superiority of the location for traffic made the Central Plains a place where various cultures co-existed and various minorities and political groups competed. The different cultures collided, clashed, had exchanges and synchronized, creating a vital new body that became the mainstream of Chinese culture. The early part of Chinese history was a period when Xi’an, the key city of the Central Plains, played a leading role in politics, the economy and culture. The Xi’an area is not only superior by its geographical position, strategically located, difficult to access, and convenient to traffic, it is also humanity’s earliest habitat and the area in China where an economy was developed early. “Eight waters” were said to surround Chang’an. The

available water resources made the city rich in surface and groundwater, solving the Xi’an population’s water problems. Thus good conditions were present for social and economic prosperity and the city development of ancient and modern Xi’an, while also laying a basis for the major cities emerging in the Guanzhong region. For these reasons, Xi’an was once the capital of the Zhou, Qin, Han, Sui and Tang dynasties, playing an important role in the consolidation and development of these dynasties.

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A Warm and Humid Climate Xi’an’s latitude is between 33° 42’ and 43° 44’ 30” N  ; the longitude between 107° 40’ and 109° 49’ E, which makes it just like the other areas in the Central Plains that are part of the warm belt and semi-wet monsoon climate. The climate is characteristically warm and wet with moderate rainfall. January is the coldest month, with an average temperature below 1.3 degrees. The average annual rainfall is 604.2 mm. The rainfall occurs mostly in July, August and September. Xi’an has very clear seasonal distinctions. Although the temperature in the spring is not very stable and there is a lot of wind, the windy days are far fewer than in the Huabei Plain in the eastern part of China. The wind speed is low and the climate as a whole is very favourable to agriculture. Because the area is part of the loess belt, with fertile soil that is easy to till, Guanzhong has become a major economic centre for agricultural products. Although Xi’an is affected by the East-Asia subtropical zone monsoon, it is thousands of kilometers away from the ocean, and so its temperatures and rainfall cannot be directly influenced by the ocean. In the summer the solar radiation is strong, making Xi’an a region of very high temperatures. In the winter, as the solar radiation decreases, the city is cold, with correspondingly low temperatures. Therefore the difference in temperatures throughout the year is remarkable. Because the water resources are limited in Xi’an and the rainfall not abundant, the climate of Xi’an shows strong continental features. The range and changes in temperature are closely related to the composition of the soil. The construction segment of the earth’s surface in Xi’an is loess, which has a very limited


1. According to scientific studies, the name “Central mountain pass” of the Guanzhong Plain already appeared in the period from the Warring Kingdoms to the Qin and Han dynasties. According to certain scholars, the name “Guanzhong Plain” was derived from many mountain passes in the lower flood plain of the Weihe River, where Xi’an is located. Those passes are the Hangu Mountain Pass and Tong Strategic Pass in the east, the Wu Mountain Pass in the southeast, the San Strategic Pass in the southwest, the Long Mountain Pass in the west, the Xiao Mountain Pass in the northwest, and the Lin Jin Strategic Pass in the northeast. 2. There is the Qinling Mountain plank road built along the face of a cliff, leading to Ba Shu in southwest ; the Wu Mountain Pass towards Jin Lake and places along the southeast part of the lake ; Hangu Mountain Pass and Tong Strategic Pass in the east, leading directly to the Central Plains ; the Qinling Mountain plank road leading to the Yellow River and, further, to the south of the Changjiang River and Hebei Province ; the Lin Jin Strategic Pass leading to Shaanxi Province in the northeast, and a straight road leading to the Ordos Plateau in the north.

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Main Geographical Environmental Characteristics

Fig. 1. Xi'an in the landscape

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Zhu Shiguang, Xiao Ailing

heat-storing capacity. The temperature becomes very high when the solar radiation is strong, and vice versa. The distribution of rainfall in Xi’an increases gradually and markedly from north to south, while it increases only a little from east to west. The seasonal distribution of precipitation in Xi’an has the following characteristics : in the summer, under the influence of the monsoon from the southeast, it is hot with abundant rain. In the winter, influenced by the northwest monsoon, it is cold with little precipitation. Summer rainfall accounts for 32 to 39 % of the total annual amount. The rainfall in the autumn is less than that of summer and accounts for 31 to 36 %. In the spring, rainfall is relatively sparse, accounting only for 3 to 5 % of the annual precipitation. Obviously, the distribution of rainfall is very much dependent upon the monsoons. The rainfall in different months of the year is correspondingly different. The wind direction of the Xi’an area is influenced not only by the circulation of the atmosphere but also by local geographical features. In the winter, the prevailing wind direction is northeast, and in summer, it changes to southeast. Because Xi’an is close to the Qinling mountain range in the south and affected by this mountainous region, there are mainly west winds in the winter and east winds in the summer. Thus we can see that the prevailing winds in Xi’an are affected by the local geographical features, determining the wind direction caused by the seasonal changes in the atmospheric circulation. Just as with other natural phenomena, the climate on the Earth, whether wet or dry, is continuously changing. About 6,000 years ago, when the Ban Po and Jiang Zhai people lived there, the climate of the Guanzhong Plain was very hot. The discovery of the remains of some animals that could only live in southern subtropical areas provides convincing evidence of this.[]

of ancient folded mountains with an average elevation of 2,000 meters. Its height has been increasing since the Tertiary and the Quaternary periods, and so it has numerous high mountains and deep valleys. Thus it has become an important line of demarcation between the south and the north. Taibai Mountain, with an elevation of 3,767meters, is the highest mountain in Shaanxi Province and also the highest mountain in east continental China east of 105° longitude. This region is rich in primeval forests and rare animals and is an important nature preserve. Lishen Mountain is formed by towering crags and has many hot springs in the north. They are all key natural scenic spots in China. The hilly area of the Qinling Mountains, created by the rivers of its main backbone and named the “valley road”, is connected to the Guanzhong Plain and the fault plane. There are a total of 72 “valley roads” on the northern slopes of Qinling. These valleys are not only the main water sources of the Weihe River, of great importance to the population of Xi’an and other middle-sized cities, as well as for the region’s industry and agriculture, but also the historical foundation for the important roads through Qinling. These old roads basically follow the waters flowing from south to north. The roads played an important part in the cultural and economic interactions in olden times. Today the north-south railroads and highways passing over the Qinling are built along these valleys, and some valleys have been highlighted as scenic spots, such as Taiping Valley, Gaoguan Valley, Feng Valley and Tang Valley, etc. The northern section of Xi’an is a part of the Guanzhong Plain with an average elevation of 400-600 meters. The Weihe River alluvial plain is 140 kilometers within the Xi’an area, with a width from north to south of 15-30 kilometers and a widest point of 40 kilometers. The outer part of the bench-like form of the alluvial plain always consisted of the water- and wind-shaped loess highlands. The highlands are a special kind of topography that is typical of the loess plain. Here, it refers to a place of high altitude and with a plain terrain. There are many highlands in the Guanzhong Plain. From the foot of the Hua Mountain to the banks of the Yellow River, you can see continuous highlands that compose two-fifths of the Guanzhong Plain region. The highlands of the loess plain are high in elevation (450-800 meters), with a large and fluctuating surface area. There are many highlands in the Xi’an region, too. Those highlands have exerted

Valleys and Plains Alternating with Swamps With valleys and plains alternating with swamps, Xi’an’s geographical character in the south is quite different from the northern part. It is near the Qinling mountain range in the southern part of the region. The Qinling range consists

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3. The climate in the area has changed over 10 stages in the historical periods as follows : (1) In the early Holocene Period, (10,000-8,000 BC), frigid climate, the mean temperature was 5°-6° C lower than it is today. (2) In the middle of the Holocene Period, (8,000-3,000 BC), the climate was warm and humid. During this period, the annual mean temperature was 2° C higher than today. In the Yangshao Culture Period, (7,000-5,000 BC), the average annual rainfall was 100 to 200 mm more than today. (3) In the 11 th-8 th century BC the climate was cool and dry. The annual mean temperature was 1-2° C lower and the precipitation was lower than today. (4) In the 8 th-1 st century BC there was a warm and humid climate. The annual mean temperature was 1-2° C higher than today. The rainfall at that time was more than that of the present, and some subtropical plants such as bamboo proliferated on a large scale. (5) In the 1 st century BC to the 6 th century AD, there was a cold and arid climate. (6) In the 7 th- 8 th century AD, the climate was warm and humid. The annual mean temperature was 1° C higher than today. (7) In the early 9 th-11 th century AD, the climate was cold and arid. (8) In the 12 th century A.D, warm and arid climate. The annual mean temperature was higher than today. (9) In the early 13 th century to the early 14 th century AD, the climate was cold and arid. (10) In the early 14 th century to the early 20 th century AD, the climate was frigid and arid.

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During each phase there were fluctuations in temperature and rainfall. From the climatic situations described above, we can see that the climatic changes in the Guanzhong Plain have more or less followed the same tendencies as for the rest of the country. This similarity, however, is not completely identical, due to the geographic specificities of the region. (Zhu Shiguang, Wang Yuanlin, Hu Lingui, Quaternary Sciences, Feb. 1998). 4. For examples, the Fengjing and Haojing palaces of the Zhou dynasty were built on the highlands of Jiyang, the Xianyang Palace of the Qin dynasty was built on the highlands of Bi, and the ChangLe, Weiyang, JianZhang palaces of the Han dynasty and the Daming Palace of the Tang dynasty were built on the highlands of LongShou.

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Main Geographical Environmental Characteristics

considerable effects on the economic development of the region. For one million years, the forefathers of the country lived by hunting and picking wild fruits on those highlands and in the vicinity, with altitudes high enough to protect them from floods. The Lantian apemen, for example, lived on the highlands of the southern part of the Qinling Range. Also the famous Ban Po society relics, the typical historical relics of the New Stone Age, were found on the southwest edge of the Bai Lu Highlands. Because of the loess highland’s elevation, the wide view, the ease of drainage, and the solidity of the soil (beneficial for the construction of large buildings), the palaces of the Zhou, Qin, Han, and Tang dynasties were located on highlands.[] Swamps form the low and flat land areas between the highlands. Some low and wet parts of the swampland — apart from the residential sites for the lower classes — can be used for storing water, creating lakes and gardens, thus beautifying the environment and providing recreational sites for tourists. Some lakes were formed by using the swamps, such as the Kunming Lake in the southwest of the Chang’an of the Han dynasty, Cang Lake in Weiyang Palace, Taiye Pond in Jianzhang Palace, Qujiang Lake in the Chang’an of the Tang dynasty, Taiye Pond in Daming Palace, and Long Lake (or Xingqing Lake) in Xingqing Palace. Most of the wetlands in Xi’an are located in the JingheWeihe River Basin and constitute the major portion of the ecosystem in the Xi’an area. The wetlands of Jinghe-Weihe River lie at the confluence of the Weihe, Jinghe and Bahe rivers to the north of Xi’an. They are about 13 kilometers long and 1 to 5 kilometers wide, for a total surface area of about 7,000 hectares. They include the Baqiao and Weiyang districts and Gaoling County. This area is rich in vegetation and an important habitat for waterfowl. There is now a population of more than 20,000 birds and some 140 different species, including over 20 varieties of stateprotected birds, such as grey cranes, black cranes, swans, red-crowned cranes, mandarin ducks and bustards. During the course of history, some changes occurred in the valleys, plains and swamps in the Xi’an area because of the alteration of natural elements and the influence of human activities. For example, the loess plain and highlands became lower, smaller and changed in appearance due to landslip, water erosion, cultivation, cavedigging and road construction. Owing to channel deposits, some low-lying land became higher and was reduced, or even disappeared. The Qinling mountain range shifted

horizontally and vertically under the influence of the New Tectonic Movement. However, the abovementioned changes were not conspicuous. Apart from some subtle changes, the main landform structures remained. In brief, considered macroscopically, the geomorphologic characteristics of Xi’an lie in the following factors : the geomorphologic structure and forms are greatly influenced by geological structures and tectonic movements ; the geomorphologic forms are diversified, composed mainly of hilly areas and plains, the south having much higher physical features than the north, an alluvial fan, highlands and alluvial plains extending from east to west, alternating from south to north, taking on the shape of a strip. The area abounds in famous rivers, hills and tourist attractions. The development of the city can benefit greatly from these diversified geomorphologic characteristics and rich tourist resources.

Rivers, Lakes and Natural Ponds According to a common saying, there were eight rivers surrounding the capital of Xi’ an. That was also a way of saying that there were a lot of rivers in the Xi’an district, like the Jinghe, Weihe, Bahe, Chanhe, Fenghe, Haohe, Yuhe and Liaohe rivers. Among these rivers there is only one main watercourse : the Weihe River. The ancient Liaohe is now called Laohe. And the Xiaohe is the headstream of the ancient Haohe. Except for these famous tributaries there are many other rivers in the area, such as the Shichuanhe, Heihe, Tianyuhe, Xihe and Ling rivers, etc. All of these rivers flow into the Weihe River. Thus the Xi’an area had convenient communications both by water and by land. It was under these conditions that the imperial capitals of the Qin, West Han, and Tang dynasties were created and developed. Located south of the mountains and north of the Weihe River, the imperial capital of Qin was more famous than the others. In the end this city was named Wei. The Chang’an of the Han dynasty was on the opposite side of the Weihe River from Wei. Many of the rivers in the area had the important functions of irrigating the farmlands, being open to transportation and providing water for domestic use.

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Zhu Shiguang, Xiao Ailing


Fig. 2. Xi’an’s geographical feature

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5. For example, the middle Wei-Bridge was 1.5 km from the north of Chang’an during the West Han dynasty, and now the distance is 5 km. The ruins of Xianyang City, which lie in the Chang-ling Station, have been partly destroyed. The remains of the east Wei-Bridge were moved in the year 721 to the southeast, to the town of Geng in Gaoling County. The new Wei bridge at Geng is 2.6 km from the town, to the north of the east Wei-Bridge.

Main Geographical Environmental Characteristics

The tributaries on both side of the Weihe River had distinct characteristics : there were more tributaries on the south bank than on the north. The southern ones all originated in the Qinling mountain range and flowed down through the alluvial piedmont plain to the Weihe River. They ran swiftly from southwest to northwest, and from highlands to lowlands, supplying great amounts of water for reservoirs and energy. But these tributaries were very short and not very wide. On the other hand, the longer tributaries flowed slowly from the loess plain, carrying a lot of sediments. The lower segments of the rivers in the Xi’an region angled mostly to the left. The Weihe River, however, moved continuously to the north throughout history.[] Under the influence of the geology and the geography, all the southern subsidiary streams of the Weihe River came from the north of Qinling Mountain. The orientation

of these streams is from south to north because of the slope of the block fault. Most of these watercourses flow out of the valleys, rather than joining the Weihe River. Especially under the influence of Lishan Mountain, the streams move from the right to the left slopes. The Bahe River is a subsidiary stream of the Weihe River. It comes from Lantian County on the north slope of Qinling Mountain. The Chanhe River is also a major river to the east of Xi’an. These two rivers did not cross in ancient times. Through the shifting of Lishan Mountain, the course of the Bahe River was pushed to the west, where it met the Chanhe River. Although the two rivers merge, the main course of the river has been relatively stable, and only its runoff volume increased. The Fenghe River to the east of Xi’an was well known in ancient times. Its runoff volume was very generous. This watercourse ran along the old riverbed of the Weihe,

Fig. 3. Rivers and ponds in Xi’an district

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Zhu Shiguang, Xiao Ailing

and was joined by the Juehe, the Xiaohe, and even the Laohe before flowing into the Weihe River. An analysis of satellite photos shows that the Fenghe River flows away to the north of the town of Dou-men, past the west side of the Xi’an of the Han dynasty, then parallel to the Weihe River in the east. This was quickly changed due to the strong currents of the Yuhe and the Xiaohe rivers. The diversity of the intersecting rivers and the abundant water supply promoted mining activity and regional industry, as well as providing water for domestic life in the area. At the same time another substantial influence on the development and renovation of Xi’an was the evolution of the watercourses and how the groundwater was used. In addition to all the rivers we have mentioned, there were many lakes and ponds, much like the tracery of a spider web. Examples are : Lin Lake of the Western Zhou dynasty, the “Ten ponds” of the Qin and Western Han dynasties, Lan Lake (also called Zhoushi Pond), Mei Pond and Kunming Lake. These bodies of water provided not only the available water for production and domestic use, but also ensured the security of the city. They played an important part in the formation of Xi’an because lakes and ponds, as major sources of water, varied more than the rivers in the course of history. In particular before the end of the Tang dynasty, this district had a steady supply of water due to abundant rainfall, numerous rivers and lakes and ponds. As Chen Qiaoyi has shown, referring to historical records, there were three lakes distributed in the Guanzhong area among nineteen large lakes throughout the country during the pre-Qin period. These were : Jiaohuo Lake, Xianpu Lake and Yangyu Lake. A large percentage of lakes were located in the Guanzhong area called “Nine States”. But under the Tang, the number of lakes was 191, including all big and small lakes, all of which contributed water to the territorial, social and economic development. The lakes depended mainly on the river water supplied in the Guanzhong area, for example Ling Lake near Fengjing (the Western Zhou capital), whose headwater was the Feihe River. This lake was seventy miles in circumference. The lakes and ponds were altered to adapt to the surroundings during the Qin and Western Han dynasties. According to Snafuhuangtu, there was the Taiye Pond, Baizi Lake, Cang Lake and Yu Lake, Jiu Lake, Ying’e Pond, Lin Pond and Feiwai Lake, etc, most of

which were within the palace precincts. These lakes were man-made lakes that respected the natural environment and enhanced the beauty of the city. An example is Jiu Lake in the Xingle Palace of the Qin dynasty. The watershed area in the district of Xi’an was vast, and the numerous lakes were only a part of it. Kunming Lake was the largest of all the lakes. Next in size were the Hao and Tangzhong lakes, which were twenty and twenty-two miles in circumference, respectively. Three artificial mounts were placed in Lan Lake during the Qin dynasty and taken up by the next dynasty. The architectural style gradually turned into the authorized fashion of landscaping in Chinese history. A typical case was the layout of Nanhai and Beihai lakes during the Ming and Qing dynasties. They were possibly inspired by the arrangement of Lan Lake. By the time of the Tang dynasty the number of natural lakes in the vicinity of Xi’an had decreased, whereas the small man-made lakes had increased. At the most, ten ponds in the Qin and Western Han dynasties are mentioned in the historical sources. Some of these lakes and ponds silted up and disappeared. Cataclysmic disasters and waterlogged soils were a frequent occurrence because the rivers could not change their runoff volume. The Xi’an region deteriorated, but not to any serious degree, during the Tang dynasty. Historic sources show that the hydrological environment was comparatively well organised. At a very early date, men had excavated the Longshou, Yellow, Yong’an and Qingming trenches with headstreams coming from the Qinling Mountains toward the capital. Hundreds of parks were opened in governmental and private estates, which were very beautiful spots. Wangwei, the famous poet of the Tang dynasty, built his villa in Wangchuan of Lantian County. The clear rivers flowed into lakes where men and women went boating. The famous Qujiang Lake, also called Lotus Lake, in the park of the Sui dynasty, was given its name because it was full of lotus flowers. The lakes and ponds combined radiance and beauty. The famous Qujiang, Kunming and Lan lakes all dried up after the Tang dynasty  ; only deposits testify to their former existence. On the other hand, smaller lakes and ponds disappeared, and their exact position can no longer be found. The variety of Xi’an’s surroundings influenced the development of the city.

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The Variety of Vegetation Under the weather conditions specific to the region, the vegetation of the Xi’an region was composed of deciduous broadleaf forest, since it is located in the warm temperate zone abundant in plant life. Because of the early and primitive agriculture and the impact of human activities, the natural vegetation disappeared almost totally in the Weihe valley and loess plain. Manmade vegetation became the main form of plant life. The cultivated vegetation is composed of farm crops, fruit trees and shelter forest, with a great number of species. The main belt vegetation in the Qinling Mountain area is natural plants with a vertical distribution. Deciduous forests such as robur and birch, taiga and acrophyta covered the north slope of Taibai Mountain from top to bottom. Besides this natural vegetation, aquiherbosa were cultivated in the swamplands and bottomlands between the mountains and plains. However, the natural and cultivated vegetation in the Xi’an region evolved greatly during the geological ages and the human historical period. During the Neolithic Age, which is known as the Recent Epoch in geological history, the global climate became definitively warmer. The weather in the Xi’an region belonged to the northern semi-tropics, and its temperature was warmer than it is today. The native vegetation of the region around Xi’an was mixed deciduous forest and aiphyllium. The diversity in vegetation was due to the region’s varied topography and altitudes. The broadleaf forest and aciculisilvae were widespread in the Qinling Mountains (as on the northern bank of Weihe River), the deciduous broadleaf tree and fruitceta prevailed in the loess plains and hills (for example, the loess plain on the north bank of Weihe River), deciduous broadleaf trees and aiphyllium were spread in the northern subtropical zone, in the piedmont plain (between Qinling Mountain and Lishan Mountain) and the diluvial plain (along the Weihe River and its tributaries), where bamboo prevailed. In addition to that, in front of the piedmont and diluvial plain, and the palustrine soil on both sides of some rivers, there was paludal vegetation and aquiherbosa. On the northern banks of the Weihe River, between Yanliang Borough, Fuping County and southern Pucheng County, there were marshes full of salt pramtum, now called salt pools. At the time when

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primitive agriculture had already been developed, the cultivated croplands did not cover a very large area. As archaeological data have confirmed, primitive agriculture emerged as early as the New Stone Age in the Xi’an region. In the unearthed remains of Ban Po, setariaitalica and green-stuff (mustard plant and Chinese cabbage belong to the mustard family) have been discovered, testifying that the major part of the cultivated crops was formed by millet, which came into use in this area about 6,000-7,000 years ago. Primitive agriculture was still the predominant vegetation, owing to low productivity and the low population. At the end of the New Stone Age, at the time of the Dragon Mountain civilisation, the global climate changed, becoming dry and cold. And at the beginning of the Western Zhou dynasty (3,000 B.C), namely the later part of the Whole New Life Age, the character of the climate in the Xi’an district was warm and temperate, similar to the rest of the country, as it still is today. Therefore the regional vegetation of the Xi’an district was deciduous broadleaf forest similar to today. Otherwise, with the different local climate and soil, the regional vegetation had a unique formation. Deciduous forest and aiphyllium distributed in the mountainous and rocky areas of Qinling Mountain and the northern bank of the Weihe River, deciduous broadleaf trees and fruitceta are widespread in the loess plains and hills, deciduous broadleaf trees and aiphyllium are to be found in the piedmont plains and diluvial plains, but now the bamboo has basically vanished and remains only in a part of the Qinling valley and plain. In addition to this, the paludal vegetation and aquiherbosa in the frontal parts of the piedmont plain and swampland gradually decreased. The bounds of primitive cultivated crops extended broadly and their distribution was stabilised. The general condition changed so that broomcorn millet and panicled millet as the staples of dry farming were cultivated in the loess plain, while broomcorn millet and panicle millet mixed with paddy fields were distributed in the diluvial plain along the Weihe River and its tributaries. By the time of the Western Han dynasty, the regional vegetation was similar to that of the Western Zhou dynasty, except that bamboo appeared again on the plain of the Weihe. Owing to the construction of a large irrigation system, reclaiming land, enlarging Xanadu and its gardens, cultivating peculiar flowers and trees beside the capital of the Qin and Western Han dynasties, man-

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Zhu Shiguang, Xiao Ailing


made vegetation dominated the loess plain and the plain along the river valleys. Since the Tang dynasty the natural plant formation has developed similarly to the typical situation of the Western Han dynasty, only the man-made vegetation spread more widely. Summarizing the descriptions above, we can say that the preponderant vegetation at the northern foot of the Qinling Mountains and in the Xi’an area remained the same for thousands of years. With the increasing population and development of the economy, the destruction of the vegetation became more comprehensive because of land reclamation, deforestation and warfare. About 6,000 years ago, setariaitalica and green-stuff were planted in the Banpo Matriarchal society. The people of the Western Zhou dynasty cultivated a variety of crops and trees. During the Qin and Han dynasties, Xi’an became a developed agricultural area. Since the Western Han dynasty, the original vegetation has been replaced by wheat, broomcorn millet, panicled millet, cotton and maize. The forest at the foot of Qinling Mountain was seriously destroyed by urban construction, land reclamation and deforestation.


The Geographical Department of Shaanxi Normal University, Geographical Annals of Xi’an City, Shaanxi People’s Publishing House, Feb. 1988. The Compiling Council of the Atlas of Xi’an, The Atlas of Xi’an, Xi’an Atlas Publishing House, Oct. 1989. Shi Nianhai, The Historical Atlas of Xi’an, Xi’an Atlas Publishing House, Oct. 1989. Shi Nianhai, Chang’an City in the Han & Tang dynasty and the Guanzhong Plain, Collections of Essays on Chinese Historical Geography, Dec. 1999. Liu Yonghan, Hydrological Geography of Qinling, Shaanxi People’s Publishing House, Jan. 1983. Zhao Jianguang, A Historical Retrospective of Eco-environmental Evolution and an Anticipation of Aims in Eco-environmental Construction in the Xi’an Area (unpublished).

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Heng Chye Kiang

Sui-Tang Chang’an : inventing a new urban paradigm in East Asia An analysis of the urban form This paper is based on the paper “Sui-Tang Chang’an, Nara, Nagaoka and Heian : Inventing A New Urban Paradigm in East Asia” presented at the 20 th Anniversary Conference of the Centre for Urban Planning and Environmental Management at the University of Hong Kong, “Re-inventing the City : International and Regional Experience and Hong Kong’s Future”, November 11, 2000, Hong Kong. I would like to thank the Japan Foundation for a research grant that allowed me to spend three months (Nov 1999 to Feb 2000) at the Kyoto Institute for Research in Humanities and Prof Tanaka Tan for hosting me and for the discussions we had together during this period. It was during this stay that I formulated this theory and drew the diagrams.

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City building has a long tradition in East Asia. In China, cities were already in existence during the Xia dynasty, more than 4,000 years ago.[1] During its long history of development, the Chinese city has seen major changes and minor transformations, sometimes brought about by the combination of a number of factors and at other times by the will of its ruler or the genius of its planners. This paper hypothesises the invention of a significant prototypical plan during the Sui period that gave rise to the glorious capital Chang’an. Founded at the beginning of a new era, the challenge to invent an urban paradigm to match the ambitions of a new empire was answered, engendering the plan that profoundly influenced the evolution of cities in East Asia to the extent that it was widely imitated in 8 th-century Japan in Heijokyo (Nara), Nagaoka-kyo and Heian-kyo, and in the five capitals of the kingdom of Bohai.[2]

Sui-Tang Chang’an Sui-Tang Chang’an began its more than 300 years of glorious history in 582 during the Sui dynasty when Emperor Sui Wendi decided that he needed a new capital in preparation for his unification of China. The previous year, he had usurped the throne after the untimely demise of a very capable Northern Zhou ruler who had in 577 united northern China by conquering Northern Qi and set the stage for China’s unification. Although Sui Wendi forsook the 800 year-old Han capital of Chang’an that he had inherited from his Northern Zhou predecessors, he chose to remain where his power base was located and sited his capital nearby on a higher piece of land to its southeast (fig. 1). Sui Wendi entrusted the building of the new capital to Liu Long, Chamberlain for the Palace Buildings, and a member of the aristocracy, Vice-Inspector-General Yuwen Kai. A site about 10 km south of the Wei River, watered by the Chan and Ba Rivers to the east and the Zao and Feng Rivers to the west, was chosen. The terrain sloped down northwestward to the Wei River, and was partially

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Fig. 1. Chang’an in the Wei River Valley. Fig. 2. Map of Chang’an.

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Heng Chye Kiang

traversed by a series of six minor land spurs. The capital was hence strategically located, protected by deserts to the north and west, by mountains to the south and by the fortified pass of Dongguan to the east. Construction began in the sixth month of 582 with the building of the Palace City. While the construction of the palace took only nine months and the emperor moved in during the spring of 583, the building of the capital city took much longer. He called this city Daxingcheng (Walled City of Daxing), after his own title, Duke Daxing.[3] It was to be a grand city from which the united China would be ruled. The city measured 9.721 km by 8.652 km covering an area of some 84.1 sq. km or about 32.5 sq. miles, larger than any city ever built prior to the modern world. Rome within its Aurelian Walls built in the late third century C.E. covered 5.28 sq miles and Constantinople within its extended walls built around C.E. 447 by Theodosius II had an area of 4.63 sq. miles. Even the aggregate area of Baghdad and its sprawling conurbation of the eight and ninth centuries, certainly the largest metropolis outside China in the medieval world, amounted to 11.6 sq. miles, of which the walled city accounted for only 1.75 sq. miles. [4] The walls of the palace city were erected first, followed by those of the imperial city. A perimeter wall of rammed earth, 36.7 km in length, was built around the city. This wall, due to its immense scale, took many years to complete. In the initial years this was probably a low wall similar to the one that protected Luoyang, the secondary capital, during Sui Yangdi’s reign.[5] This wall was reinforced at least three times during the Sui and Tang dynasties : the first time in 613 when Sui Yangdi ordered 100,000 men to the task ; the second time in 654 when Emperor Tang Kaozong had 41,000 men work on it for a month, and finally in 730 during the reign of Xuanzong when construction went on for 90 days. During Gaozong’s reign in 654, when the city’s outer walls were reinforced, the nine city gates along the south, east and west walls of the city were each crowned with a gate tower. Further protection was offered by a 9-meter wide moat located 3 to 4 meters outside the walls.[6] This moat was later filled up during the later half of the Tang period. The building and layout of a capital of this unprecedented magnitude was motivated by Sui Wendi’s political vision of uniting China once again ; in the south, a weaker Chen dynasty contended the rule of the territory. Chang’an was to be the symbol of the entire Chinese realm and


1. Wangcheng gang and Pingliang tai, two cities estimated to have flourished about 4,000 ±65 years and 3,960 ±140 years ago respectively, are examples of cities from this period. See Yang Kuang, Zhongguo gudai ducheng zhidushi yanjiu. Shanghai Guji Press, 1993, pp. 12-16. 2. See Wang Renbo, “Cong kaogu faxian kan Tangdai zhong ri wenhua jiaoliu” [Studying the Cultural Relations between China and Japan from Archaeological Discoveries], Kaogu yu wenwu, 1984/3, pp. 100-108. See also Su Bai, “Sui-Tang Chang’an and Luoyang”, p. 423. 3. Song Minqiu (10191079), Chang’an zhi [Record of Chang’an] in Song-Yuan fangzhi congkan [Collection of Song and Yuan Period Gazetteers] (8 vols., Beijing : Zhonghua shuju, 1990) Vol. 1, henceforth abbreviated as CAZ, c. 7, p. 5a. Daxing was the name of the fief given to Yang Jian before he became Emperor. 4. Ho P’ing-ti, “Lo-yang AD 495-534 : A Study of Physical and SocioEconomic Planning of a Metropolitan Area”, Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 26 (1966), pp. 52-101, p. 53. 5. Cefu yuangui, chapt. 13 diwang section duyi 1. Zhonghua shuju ed., p. 153. 6. See Su Bai, “Sui Tang Chang’an cheng he Luoyang cheng” [Sui-Tang Chang’an and Luoyang], Kaogu, 1978/6, p. 409.

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7. Arthur F. Wright, “The Formation of Sui Ideology, 581-604”, Chinese Thought and Institutions, ed. John K. Fairbank (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1957), pp. 71-104, p. 80. 8. Lunyu [Analects], “Weizheng bian”, see Qian Mu, Lunyu xinjie (Chengdu : Bashu shushe, 1958), p. 20. See also Zhao Liying, “Lun Tang Chang’an de guihua shixiang ji qi lishi pingjia” [The Planning Ideology Behind Tang Chang’an and its Historical Evaluation], Jianzhushi [The Architect], No 29 (June, 1988), pp. 41-50 (p. 45) ; and Shang Minjie, “Sui Tang Chang’an cheng de sheji sixian yu suitang zhengzhi” [Sui-Tang Politics and the Design Ideas of Sui-Tang Chang’an], Renwen zazhi [Journal of Humanities], 1991/1, pp. 90-94. 9. Arthur F. Wright, “The Cosmology of the Chinese City”, The City in Late Imperial China, ed. G. William Skinner (Stanford, Ca., Stanford University Press, 1977), p. 56.

of his virtuous rule. As Arthur Wright observed, the circumstances of Sui Wendi’s ascension to the throne made him formulate “ideological measures [that are] marked by his craving for reassurance and by his obsessive urge to use any sanction to establish his right to rule…[7]” Special attention was also paid to acts of symbolic and ritualistic importance to enhance the legitimacy of his regime. Some scholars attributed the northern location of the palace within the city to the Confucian political philosophy, which likens a benevolent ruler to the North Star around which all stars orbit.[8] Calling the main palace Taiji Hall or Hall of the Cosmic Ultimate, which symbolises the “astral centre of the universal order”, made the political meaning even more obvious.[9] The four principal cardinal gates of the capital were named to recall their cosmological counterparts helping to render the city the psychological equivalent of the Chinese realm in the minds of its contemporaries. Its political symbolism was made even more evident by the nomenclature of the city’s main southern gate situated directly in line with the palace.[10] Instead of following the practice at the other three principal cardinal gates and calling it Qixia Gate after its cosmological counterpart it was called Mingde Gate or the Gate of Luminous Virtue, once again alluding to the virtuous ruler. Rather, the gate to its east was named Qixia Gate or the Gate of Inaugural Summer (fig. 2). Virtue with its moral force, more than anything else, would enable him to rule the entire country.[11] When Emperor Taizu later seized power during a popular uprising in 618 and established the Tang dynasty, he was contented to continue the use of Daxingcheng as his imperial capital. He renamed it Chang’an, the City of Everlasting Peace. Little else was changed. The city was large enough to cater to the increasing urban population as well as to the needs of the expanding Tang Empire.[12] Except for the subsequent addition in 634 of another palatial complex, Daminggong, at the northeastern edge, the city remained within the bounds set by the city walls built during the Sui period. There was in fact little need to expand beyond the walls of the city, as much of the southern sections remained sparsely populated throughout the Tang period, even though at its height the Tang Chang’an had a population of about a million people.[13] Such was the immense scale of the city that, despite efforts to develop these southern wards, they remained largely vacant with vast fields and gardens throughout the Tang dynasty.

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Inventing a new urban paradigm in East Asia

General Description


Within the confines of the perimeter wall was a severe gridiron plan that arranged the city into clear functional zones. To begin with, twelve gates, three on each side, provided access to the city.[15] During the Tang period, a wooden frame gate tower that provided further protection and grandeur to the city crowned each of these gates. The gridiron layout of Chang’an was formed by 14 latitudinal (E-W) and 11 longitudinal streets (N-S) that divided the city into an axially symmetrical plan of more than 100 wards, large and small. Of these streets, the three N-S and three E-W streets that led to the gates were the principal avenues and were commonly referred to as “The Six Streets”. Among them, the main N-S avenue that led from Mingde Gate, the main gate in the south wall, to the palatial compound in the north centre was the most important. This Zhuquemen Dajie, Vermilion Bird Road or, also commonly referred to as Tianjie (Heavenly Road) was between 150 and 155 meters wide and constituted the main N-S axis of the city.[16] The other principal avenues were equally awesome at widths of between 120 and 134 meters. The rest of the major thoroughfares, measuring between 40 and 75 meters, were still very wide by today’s standards. On both sides of the streets were ditches that were about 3 meters wide that helped not only to drain water off the slightly elevated roadways, but also in irrigation. Locust trees, willows or elms, and fruit trees lined the major avenues.[17] Behind the tree trunks, earthen walls defined the sides of rectangular walled residential wards. To the north centre was a large fortified compound consisting of the Palace and Imperial Cities. It accounted for one-ninth of the total area of Chang’an. The fortified Palace City, 2,820.3 m. by 1,492.1 m. or about 4.21 sq km. in area, contained the many halls in which the emperor conducted his affairs and the imperial household lived. To its south, an immense imperial square of similar width and a depth of 220 meters separated the Palace and the Imperial Cities. Being immediately before the palace, it was here that, amongst other things, the emperor conducted the rituals of First Prime (first day of the lunar year) and Winter Solstice, announced amnesties, and received foreign dignitaries. To the south, covering an area of 2,820.3 meters by 1,843.6 meters, or 5.2 sq km, was the Imperial City. Within its walls was the

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Heng Chye Kiang

administrative heart of the empire where government offices of both civil and military functions, the headquarters of the imperial guards and the residence and offices of the crown prince were located. It was also here that the emperor came to conduct ritual sacrifices at the imperial ancestral temple (tai miao) and at the imperial heavenly altar (tai she).[18] The rest of the city was divided into 108 residential walled wards and two fortified markets. The residential wards included houses, large and small, religious establishments and occasional government offices. Such wards varied in size ranging from about 1.1 km. by 800 meters to 580 by 530 meters. The larger of these wards were divided into quarters by two main streets connecting the four ward gates. Residents who lived in the wards were subject to stringent supervision and forbidden to leave the wards during curfew hours. The city was extremely controlled. Chang’an resembled a collection of semiautonomous walled cities or urban “villages” separated by wide avenues within a fortified precinct. Commercial activities were confined to two large fortress-like East and West Markets and trading was permitted only during certain hours of the day. Situated at the eastern end of the Silk Road, Chang’an enjoyed brisk trading activity and was an international bazaar. The East and the West Markets, also known respectively as Duhui and Liren,[19] were probably the busiest centres of commerce in the world at the time, packed with oneand two-storey structures and stocked with goods from all parts of China, Central Asia, and the South Seas.[20] Located symmetrically along the main axis south of the Palaces, each market occupied an area of two wards. The city was also provided with two large gardens: Leyou Garden and Furong Garden at the southeastern quarter of the city. Leyou Garden located in Shengping ward was extremely popular with the residents of the capital flocking to this hill park particularly on the ninth day of the ninth month to enjoy the view of the city below. Farther south, a large park occupied the southeastern corner of the walled city. Imperial pavilions dotted this immense park of gardens and lake, famous, among other things, for its apricot blossoms. This park was so popular with the Tang court that during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong, a walled imperial path was built along the eastern wall to connect Daming Palace and Xingqing Palace to the park to facilitate the emperor’s frequent visits. In the immense park that occupied an

area of more than two wards or some 1.44 sq km. was the well-known Qujiang Lake that extended south beyond the confines of the city. However, despite the grandeur of the capital and its physical assets, the city was destroyed by the prolonged period of instability and warfare that finally brought the Tang dynasty to an end. The final blow came when Huang Chao and his fellow rebels overran much of China (873-884). Many cities were destroyed along their path. Chang’an, having survived the two-year rule of Huang Chao from 881 to 883, was finally destroyed in the counterattack and the subsequent usurpation of power and relocation of the capital by Zhu Wen.

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Inventing Chang’an As can be seen in the above description, Chang’an was larger than any other city that preceded it. Like many other Chinese cities, it was organised around a gridiron plan. This clear division of the city into distinct city blocks or wards was evident to its inhabitants and was referred to time and again. Modern scholars characterise it by saying that the checkerboard layout of Chang’an was formed by 14 latitudinal (E-W) and 11 longitudinal streets (N-S) dividing the city into an axially symmetrical plan of, theoretically, 130 large and small wards. The Palace City and the Imperial City, in the north centre, together occupied an area of some 16 blocks. The two markets each took up an area of 2 wards. At the southeastern corner, Qujiang Lake and its adjacent park took up an area of at least 2 other blocks, leaving the city with 108 blocks for residential purposes. Tree-lined avenues of considerable proportions separated these blocks. However, the layout of the city described above is unique in Chinese history. Prior to the founding of the capital, no other city in China had a similar plan or was as extensive. Knowing the background for the founding of the Sui Chang’an and the unique physical layout of the city and its monumental scale, let us now attempt to understand how the city was invented or designed. In an important paper, Fu Xinian, the renowned Chinese architecture historian, had investigated the modular design principles behind the design of Sui-Tang Chang’an and Loyang, 8 th


10. According to the early Chinese conception of the cosmic realm, the four cardinal directions are associated with symbols, colours, seasons, and elements of the five elements theory. Hence north is associated with the black turtle/snake (xuanwu), winter and the element of water ; south with the vermillion bird, summer and the element fire ; west with white tiger, autumn and the element of metal and finally east with the azure dragon, the spring season and the element of wood. In the middle stands man rooted to the yellow earth. The nomenclature of gates in early cities reflects the Chinese concern for the proper naming of the principal gates corresponding to the qualities of their cosmological counterparts. Hence the principal east gate in Chang’an was called Chunming men or the Gate of Vernal Brilliance and the main west gate Jinguang men or the Gate of Golden Lustre. 11. Arthur F. Wright, “The Cosmology of the Chinese City”, p. 60, however, thinks that although imperial cosmology had discernible authority in the planning of Chang’an, it was limited, and pragmatic considerations such as convenience, functional zoning, and ease of policing, outweighed the canonical prescriptions whenever a choice had to be made. 12. This is more than seven and a half times the area of the Walled City of Xi’an (modern Chang’an) built during the Ming period, still extant today. See “Tangdai Chang’an cheng kaogu jilüe” [Brief archaeological report on Tang Chang’an], Kaogu, 1963/11, pp. 595-611.

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Inventing a new urban paradigm in East Asia


13. See Xu Song (17811848), Tang liangjing chengfang kao [Study of the Walls and Wards of the Two Tang Capitals], (first published in 1848, reissued in 1985 by Beijing : Zhonghua shuju, 1 st ed.), c. 2, p. 37, for comments on the southern section of the city. Li Zhiqin “Xi’an gudai huko shumu pingyi” [Appraisal of the Population Figures of Ancient Xi’an], Xibei daxue xuebao [Journal of Northwestern University], 1984/2, pp. 45-51 (see p. 48), argued for a lower estimate of about half a million or less for the population of the Tang Chang’an. 14. “This brief description is included to facilitate the discussion in the next sections. As such it will deal mainly with physical aspects pertinent to the subsequent discussion and not include other important social, political and physical dimensions.” For an introduction to these other aspects, please see Chapter One of Heng Chye Kiang, Cities of Aristocrats and Bureaucrats : Development of Medieval Chinese Cityscapes. Singapore University Press, 1999. 15. The northern wall was similarly provided with three gates with the middle one, Xuanwu Gate, leading from the Palace City to the Imperial Garden to the north. The other gates along the northern wall were pierced only later. 16. See “Tangdai Chang’an cheng kaogu jilüe” [Brief Archaeological Report on Tang Chang’an], Kaogu, 1963/11 : pp. 595-611, p. 600. 17. The planting of fruit trees was ordered in 740, see Tang huiyao [Collection of Important Tang Documents], Shanghai, 1991, vol. 86, 1864.

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century Nara in Japan, as well as Ming/Qing Beijing and the certain basic modules in the composition of these cities. [21] In this paper, I will hypothesise on the principles behind the conceptualisation of Chang’an by its planner Yuwen Kai when he was assigned the task of building a city on a scale never before experienced or surpassed until modern times. When Sui Wendi decided to establish his capital at Chang’an, he was already set on unifying China. What he needed was a capital that was expressive of his ambition as well as commensurate with the extent of the new empire he had in mind. [22] Indeed Sui Wendi founded an extensive empire and united China after more than three and a half centuries of political fragmentation. Central bureaucratic institutions were set up, the tax system reformed and contending powers displaced, laying the foundation for the glorious Tang dynasty. Yuwen Kai had to invent a city for a new empire with new ambitions as well as a political symbol. When he planned Chang’an, he must have been aware of the long tradition of city planning that preceded the Sui period. He was also steeped in classical learning and hence certainly aware of the prescription in Kaogongji or Record of Artificers that says : “When the builder constructs the capital, the city should be a fang (four sided orthogonal shape) nine li on each side, with three gates on each side. Within the city are nine longitudinal and nine latitudinal streets, each of them nine carriages wide. On the left (i.e. east) is the Ancestral Temple, on the right (west) are the Altars of Soil and Grain, in front is the Hall of Audience and behind, the markets.”

This classical text gave rise to the orthodox tradition of imperial city planning that places the palace in the centre of the city, thus reinforcing the centrality of the emperor in his microcosm of the cosmic realm. There was also another tradition of capital city layout that placed the palace and its associated functions in the north section of the city. This practice was especially common in the states of the northern tribes. Yecheng from the Three Kingdoms period and, to a certain extent, Northern Wei Luoyang all had their palaces in the north. [23] As we have discussed above, in the case of Chang’an, building the Palace City in the north centre had its symbolic and political meanings as well. How then did Yuwen Kai, after having studied the great capitals that preceded the Sui period, set forth to invent a capital city grander than any ever built and imbue it with the political meanings that his

Basic unit

Configuration C

Fig. 3. Basic unit and configuration C.

patron was familiar with ? The attempt to understand the process begins with the assumption that, in his quest to invent a paradigm for the impending unification of China, Yuwen Kai began by reconciling the two great traditions of imperial city planning — an act in itself symbolic of the unification of the physical realm.[24] Let us begin with the first tradition by reconstructing the layout that was prescribed earlier in Kaogongji. One could start with the most basic unit of land division practised in the jingtian or well-field system. In this system, eight families shared a basic unit or a square of land of one li or 300 paces on each side. This square is divided equally into nine smaller squares, resulting in a simple nine-square mandala. The sides of each of these smaller squares were 100 paces long. The centre square where the well was located was state land, tilled by all the eight families and the produce of which went to the state. By the same system one could construct a larger square, nine li on each side. The square configuration C would encompass 81 of those basic units of land described above (figs. 3 and 4). This diagram once again gathers the basic units in groups of nine, each nested within a square of 3 li. In this manner there is once again a larger nine-square mandala. Imagining this diagram, configuration C, to be a city with a perimeter wall, and the lines as streets, there are either 8 or 10 longitudinal and latitudinal streets depending on whether one counts the street along the periphery (usually along the city walls). In order to have the nine latitudinal and nine longitudinal streets as prescribed in the classical text, the diagram would have to be amended to resemble

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Fig. 4. Chart of possible configurations.

Heng Chye Kiang


18. There are two other palace compounds in Tang Chang’an. In 634, Daming Palace was built just northeast of the Palace City by Emperor Taizong initially for his father’s retirement. Located on the Dragon Head Plain, it overlooked and dominated the city. Xingqing Palace was founded in 714 during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong when he converted the ward in which he resided before his enthronement into a palace complex. The palatial complex, several times extended, occupied an area of a little more than a ward (NS1250m by EW1080m) and eventually became Emperor Xuanzong’s principal palace and court. 19. See CAZ, c. 8, pp. 11a-b, for description of the East Market, and c. 10, p. 7a for the West Market. 20. Denis Twitchett, “Merchant, Trade and Government in Late T’ang”, Asia Major, Vol. XIV Part 1 (Sept. 1968), pp. 63-95, p. 70. 21. Fu Xinian, Fu Xinian, Jiangzhushi lunwenji [Collected Works of Fu Xinian on Architectural History]. Wenwu Press, 1998, pp. 168-183. 22. See Heng Chye Kiang, Cities of Aristocrats and Bureaucrats, Singapore University Press, 1999, pp. 2-4. 23. See Nancy Steinhardt, “Why were Chang’an and Beijing So Different ?” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 45, no. 4 (1986), pp. 339-357. 24. This reconciliation of the two traditions could also be seen as an attempt to combine the two traditions in order to extract the best of both for his new capital city.

Fig. 5. Configuration of Tai Gong’s training array and Li Jing’s training grounds. Source : Sawyer, p. 345.

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Fig. 6. Configuration C3 superimposed on Chang’an.

however, shows that similar modes of thinking were in fact quite common in early Chinese military strategies and formations. Tai Gong’s training array and Li Jing’s Six Flower Formation were based on the nine-square mandala and the transformations of the formations were fluid (fig. 5).[25] The flexibility of switching front and back and moving the middle sections are demonstrated among other things by this conversation recorded between Tang Taizong and Li Jing (C.E. 571-649) [26] regarding Cao Cao’s strategy : “According to Hsin shu : ‘Fighting cavalry occupy the front, attack cavalry occupy the middle, and roving cavalry occupy the rear’. According to Duke Ts’ao, the cavalry in the front, rear, and middle are divided into three covering forces, but he did not speak about the two wings, so he was only discussing one aspect of the tactics… if you turn the formation about, then the roving cavalry occupy the fore, the fighting cavalry the rear and the attack cavalry respond to the changes of the moment to split off.” [27]

one of the two cases, C1 and C2, shown in fig. 4 with the main gates, in both cases, located along the major NS and EW axes. In the first case, C1, the middle sections are divided into two rows in either direction. The peripheral streets (along the borders which were usually city walls) are included in order to account for the nine streets in either direction. The second case, C2, however, divides the middle sections into four rows and the peripheral streets are not included in the count. In either case though, there are 3 gates on each side, as prescribed. Both cases, C1 and C2, are valid although historical evidence points to the preponderance of the second example, C2. In order to reconcile the Kaogongji tradition with the other tradition of having the palace in the north centre, Yuwen Kai must have shifted the centre square i.e., the palace, together with the middle sections in both the longitudinal and latitudinal directions northwards as shown in configuration C3 (fig. 4). However there are doubts expressed as to whether this form of manipulation of the diagram was actually conceivable during the Sui period. While it seems logical and straightforward to us to shift the central row northwards while retaining the integrity of the rest of the configuration, early Chinese minds might not have had the capacity to reason in the same manner. Research,

Having shown that it is conceivable for a person of the Sui period to conceive of transformations in a formal diagram and hence produce a configuration C3 in an attempt to reconcile two existing traditions of imperial city planning, it is necessary to introduce three other assumptions in order to explain first the planning of the Sui Chang’an and especially of Heijo, Nagaoka and Heian. Firstly, it is my contention that to the early Chinese the notion of fang or four sided orthogonal shape encompassed both the square (zheng fang) and the rectangles (chang fang). This hypothesis is supported by the many examples of cities that are rectangular in shape but still cited as fang or irregular in shape but depicted as regular rectangles. With this hypothesis in place, we would be able to understand that it was not a contradiction for the planners of early Chinese and Japanese cities to design cities that were rectangular in shape despite Kaogongji’s prescription that the capital city “should be a fang nine li on each side”. The second assumption concerns the primordial importance of the nine NS and nine EW streets and the near immutability of this attribute in an imperial capital city. The symbolic significance of the number nine especially in its association with imperial presence and power was rendered even more important by the stipulated symmetry in the number of roads in both directions. I would argue that this condition coupled with the first

25. Tai Gong lived during the Zhou period and was active in the battle at Muye that overthrew the Shang and brought the Zhou to power around 1045 BCE. 26. Li Jing first served the Sui dynasty as military personnel. He later joined the Tang forces and became one of early Tang period’s great generals and strategists. 27. When I was working out the process of planning Chang’an, Nara, Nagaoka and Heian, while I was at the Kyoto Institute for Research in Humanities from Nov. 99 to Feb. 2000, sponsored by a Japan Foundation Grant, I discussed this issue with Tanaka Tan. He expressed doubts about this mode of thinking in pre-modern China. Thanks to his caution, I did further research and found similar modes of thinking in early Chinese military strategies and formations, already in practice during the Three Kingdoms period (220-266 CE), at the latest. In fact, in the same conversation between Tang Taizong and Li Jing was this passage that merits being quoted in full to show the similarity between military strategies and city planning and the fluidity of the thinking and transformations possible. Notice also the mention of the well field distribution system mentioned in an earlier section as an introduction to the formulation of the classical stipulation of Kaogongji : “The T’ai tsung said : ‘The numbers begin with five and end with eight, so if they were not set up as images, then they are really ancient formations. Would you please explain for me ?” “Li Chign said : ‘I observe that the Yellow Emperor governed the army according to the methods by which he first established the ‘village and well’ system.

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Inventing a new urban paradigm in East Asia

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Heng Chye Kiang


Fig. 7. Reconstruction of Luoyang by Fu Xinian Fig. 8. Core of Luoyang ABCD Fig. 9. Theoretical plan formed by sliding N and S halves together

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Inventing a new urban paradigm in East Asia

Fig. 11. Schematic cross section of a typical 120-metre-wide avenue

Fig. 12. The main gate Mingde Gate leading to the 155 m-wide Heavenly Street Fig. 13. 55-m-wide Mingde Gate and 5.9 m high ramparts topped by an 11-bay gate tower Fig. 14. 155-m wide Heavenly Street lined with locust trees leading to the Imperial City in the distance

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Heng Chye Kiang


Thus the “well” was divided by four roads, and eight families occupied it. Its shape was that of the Chinese character for “well”���������� ���������������� , so nine squares were opened therein. Five were used for formations, four were empty. This is what is meant by “the numbers beginning with five.” “The middle was left vacant to be occupied by the commanding general, while around the four sides the various companies were interconnected, so this is what is meant by ‘ending with eight‘. As for the changes and transformations to control the enemy : Intermixed and turbulent, their fighting [appeared] chaotic, but their methods were not disordered. Nebulous and varying, their deployment was circular, but their strategic power [shih] was not dispersed. This is what is meant by ‘they disperse and become eight, reunite and again become one’.” See Ralph D Sawyer, The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China. Westview Press, 1993, pp. 326328 ; esp. pp. 342-345.

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28. In most cases, as in the examples of Heijo, Nagaoka and Heian, the size of the palace is about 4 d2. Heijo’s palace not including the eastern section is 4 d2 ; Heian’s palace compound was also 4 d2 until 879 when, in order to have stricter controls of its grains, the palace was extended northwards to include the half row beyond the palace, making the area of the palace 5 d2. In the case of Nagaoka, the actual size of the palace is still uncertain, the most recent drawings of the city shows a palace compound of 5 d2. See Muko City Centre for Archaeological Research, Capital, 1999.3 no. 10, p. 134. I am grateful to Mr Kawano Kazutaka of the Kyoto Prefecture Research Centre for Archaeological Properties for providing me with the latest maps and excavation reports of Nagaoka as well as the issue of Capital cited above. 29. Archaeological records gave the total width of the city as 18.37 li (or 18 li and 111 bu) or 2 % more than 18 li – an acceptable margin of error. The dimension of the city according to archaeological reports was 18 li 111 bu by 16 li 105 bu. See “Brief archaeological report on Tang Chang’an”, for detailed dimensions of the different components of the city. 30. There were two measurements to the Tang measure of li, the longer one of 532 m. was used both in the construction of Chang’an and in the Japanese capitals of Heijo, Nagaoka and Heian. The Tang foot is 0.2956 m. The Tang li being 300 bu or paces is hence 6 x 0.2956 x 300 since each bu measures 6 Tang feet.

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hypothesis that the city need not necessarily be square would render the stipulation of “nine li on each side” less important and dispensable. A city that needed to be bigger or smaller for reasons of projected population size or imperial ambition would adjust its physical dimensions accordingly. This being said, the planning of the city is however modular in nature — the premise of the third assumption. Chinese planning, whether in architecture or city building, usually uses a module and/or simple multiples of the module. It is assumed that in the invention of the new paradigm, a module and simple multiples of this module were employed. Let us now return to the configuration C3 described above in which the middle sections are divided into four columns and four rows. The longitudinal middle section has four columns with widths different from the rest of the other six columns. Let us assign ‘d’ as the module for the width of each of the six columns. The width of each of the four columns in the middle section is thus ¾ d. However, since one of our premises assumes that the planning is based on simple multiples of a module, the width of each of these four columns could either be expanded to become d or reduced to become ½ d. The same can be done with the four rows adjacent to the palace, resulting in the first instance, in the configuration C4 of a square 10 d by 10 d. In the second case of configuration C5, the dimension of the square is 8 d by 8 d. There are also two other possibilities : C6 in which the city is 10 d in width and 8 d in length and C7 in which the city is 8d in width and 10d in length (see fig. 4). In each of these configurations, the palace would occupy an area equivalent to 9 d 2 in C3, 16 d 2 in C4, 4 d 2 in C5 and 8 d 2 in both C6 and C7. However, should the palace city be smaller as is shown in the configuration C7a, we will find a row of city blocks (or at times half a row) north of the palace.[28] All these configurations still have a basic structure composed of a total of nine longitudinal and nine latitudinal streets. This attribute, I have argued earlier, is of utmost importance. Sui Chang’an is essentially derived from the configuration C3, the diagram invented in the attempt to reconcile two existing traditions of imperial city planning. The magnitude of the capital that Yuwen Kai was designing called for a city larger than a square of 9 li on each side. Hence I believe that instead of using one li as the standard dimension for each of the squares, he used a module of two li. As a result, the total width of the city was 18 li.[29]

Inventing a new urban paradigm in East Asia

In general the layout and overall measurements of Chang’an conform quite well with the configuration C3 with ‘d’ being two li or about 1,064 m.[30] There are however a few inconsistencies, the first being the length of the city that appears to fall short of the 18 li which would otherwise have rendered the city into a square. However, should one consider the southern limit of the city to be the wall enclosing Furong Garden at the southeastern quarter of the city, then indeed the length of the capital would be very close to the anticipated 18 li, rendering the city conceptually into a square.[31] The other inconsistency, less easily explained away, is the creation of twelve latitudinal streets instead of nine. This is the result of Yuwen Kai’s use of half modules (one li) to regulate the length of most of the city wards instead of the full modules (d = two li) he used to control the width of most of them.[32] As a result the city is nine modules in width but only 7½ d in length from the northern wall to the main southern wall. On the other hand, the nine longitudinal streets that were created in Chang’an were readily perceived by the city dwellers and often appeared in Tang poems. Bai Juyi, for instance wrote “Returning on horse — multitudes fill Nine Avenues ; letting out court, for three days muddy roads…[33]” The hypothetical process described above is able to account for a number of characteristics of the Sui-Tang capital of Chang’an. The inconsistencies were probably due to a number of reasons, among which the practical constraints of urban administration. By using a module of 2 li the city would have been very large had the square form of the C3 configuration been retained and made urban management difficult. Even as it was, the four southernmost rows of wards were sparsely inhabited throughout the Tang period. Yuwen Kai must have planned a square city but given in to the constraints and finally compromised by having it only “conceptually” square.[34] In order to reduce the length of the city he had to use half the standard module for the length of the wards to render them more manageable. By doing so, he had shortened the length of the city by one and a half modules or half the dimension of a large unit that makes up the large nine-square mandala [35] (see fig. 6). The markets, however, retained the modular measure of 2 li for both their length and width. When Yuwen Kai designed the Eastern capital Luoyang about fifteen years later in 605, he had learnt from his Chang’an experience and adopted the module of one li for all its wards.[36]

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Heng Chye Kiang

The plan of Luoyang, however, deviates from that of Chang’an. Cut into two halves by the Luo River, the outer city wall of the city was almost square with sides of about 7.3 km. The city was planned according to a regular grid, albeit of a smaller module of one li. The geographical conditions and the desire to align the imperial and palace cities — hence the major axis of the city — with the natural features of Mt. Mang to the north and Yi Que to the south probably account for the unusual asymmetrical layout. The northern half of the city was wedged between the Lou River and Mt Mang. Figure 7 shows the reconstruction of Luoyang done by Fu Xinian and the delineation of a module of about 2 li. Perhaps the plan of Luoyang could be interpreted, despite its irregularity, as one of the variations of the theoretical permutations. Referring to fig. 4, there is a configuration C4 and its transformation C4’ which are both 10 d x 10 d. Luoyang could be based on the configuration C4’, in which case it is not an anomaly, but belonged to the same family of solutions. Let us turn our attention to fig. 8, the plan of Luoyang on which we have overlaid a diagram with AEXY indicating the compound where the palace and the imperial cities are located as well as what I consider to be the core section of the city — ABCD. The city is divided into a northern and a southern half by the Luo River, along the bent line EF. If we ignore the presence of the river and slide the two halves together with the compound AEXY immediately north of the first row of wards in the southern section, we obtain a theoretical plan as shown in fig. 9. It is now possible to superimpose on this theoretical plan the configuration C4’ suggesting that the plan of Luoyang could have been generated by further rationalisation and manipulation of the paradigm first formulated in the planning of Chang’an.[37] During the 105 years that separated the building of Luoyang and the contemporaneous capital city of Heijo, the system of planning developed by Yuwen Kai must have become even more rationalised and systematised and used as a formula for the planning of Heijo and later, Nagaoka and Heian. The plans of the three cities show that in fact all three capitals conform to C7 or C7a, one of the theoretical configurations and its variant.[38] Just as the plan of Luoyang and Chang’an could have evolved from the same considerations that gave rise to a new paradigm, there are other physical similarities between the two cities. Like Chang’an, Luoyang’s scale

was imperial. The major avenue and ceremonial way — Dingdingmenjie — was the widest among the city’s avenues. It measured 100 paces across,[40] and was lined with two rows of fruit trees, elms and willows on each side. The other five major avenues, at 75 and 62 paces across, were slightly narrower than their counterparts in Chang’an. Separating the wards were even narrower ones about 31 paces wide.[40] Translated into a hierarchy of measurements of 110, 91, and 45.5 meters respectively, these avenues were still very wide even by today’s standards.[41] The scale of Chang’an and Luoyang, however, is not only expressed through the widths of the avenues alone. The sheer dimensions of the city, the expanse of its walls, the extent of its moats, the size of its markets and wards and even of its population, were all breathtaking. It is with the desire to understand visually the scale involved in such a cityscape that I have undertaken to reconstruct digitally the city of Chang’an. The sheer physical size of the Tang capital precludes any convincing hand-drawn reconstruction unless the illustration covers several square meters of paper. With the help of digital media, one could hope to produce a more visually convincing

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31. Also recent archaeological findings reveal the remains of the ‘Altar of Heaven’ south of the city walls east of Mingde Gate, the main southern gate. It is my conjecture that the remains are probably very close to the southern boundary of the conceptual square. Once the exact location is published, it would be possible to test this hypothesis. 32. This was probably necessary as otherwise the wards would be too big to be administered effectively by the ward headmen. The two markets, however, were each modular squares of 2 li on each side. 33. See Howard S. Levy, Translations from Po Chü-I’s Collected Works, Vol. 2 (New York : Paragon Book Reprint Corp., 1971), p. 46. 34. Curiously, if one were to add up all the dimensions given in


CAZ for the lengths of the Palace and Imperial Cities, the wards, and the width of the EW streets, the total length of the city is 18 li 130 bu (18.4 li). This is about 2.2 % more than the anticipated 18 li and is very close to the width of the city (18.37 li). See also endnote 29. 35. The dimension given by CAZ for the length of the city is 15 li 175 bu or 15.58 li. This is 3.8 % larger than the 15 li that theoretically would have been the length of the city should it be made up of the dimension of two and a half large units, i.e., 2.5 times 6 li. 36. Contemporaneous with Tang period Chang’an, the Japanese capitals Heijo (or Nara) (710-784), Nagaoka (784-794), and Heian (built in 794) were built based on Chinese planning principles, thanks to the strong cultural

exchange between the two countries during the 7 th, 8 th and 9 th C. Closer inspection of the reconstructed plans of the three cities will show that all three capitals conform to the theoretical configurations C7 or C7a. Assigning a value of 532 meters for the module ‘d’, the dimensions of C7 and C7a would be almost the exact measurements of Nagaoka (4.29 x 5.35 km) and Heijo (4.3 x 4.8 km) respectively. Finally, if we add the total width of the nine NS and nine EW streets of Heian to the dimensions of C7a, the new dimensions would almost be the exact measurements of Heian (4.46 x 5.18 km). For more details, please see Heng Chye Kiang, “Sui-Tang Chang’an, Nara, Nagaoka and Heian : Inventing a New Urban Paradigm in East Asia” in proceedings of the international confe-

rence “Re-inventing the City : International and Regional Experience and Hong Kong’s Future”, 11 Nov. 2000, Hong Kong. 37. The dimension of the individual avenues between the wards must be taken into account in more detailed study. In this case an average dimension “d” of each square of the configuration C4 is one li plus the width of the avenues. Given a total width of around 7,300 meters for 13 “d”. Each “d” is about 561.5 meters or one li (532m) plus an average of 30 meters for the avenues between wards. 38. For detailed discussion on the plans and theoretical configurations of Heijo, Nagaoka and Heian, please see endnote 36 and Heng Chye Kiang, “SuiTang Chang’an, Nara, Nagaoka and Heian : Inventing A New Urban Paradigm in East Asia.”

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Inventing a new urban paradigm in East Asia

Fig. 15. Central and northeast sections of the East Market where a midnight fire in 843 destroyed some 4,000 shops in 12 streets

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Heng Chye Kiang


39. Archaeological excavations reveal a width of 121 meters at its widest point. A hundred paces would have made it 147 meters wide. See HNZ, c. 1, p. 2a. See Ma Dezhi, “Tang Chang’an and Luoyang”, p. 645 ; Su Bai, “Sui-Tang Chang’an and Luoyang”, p. 420. 40. HNZ, c. 1, p. 2a. 41. Archaeological excavations to date revealed that the avenues at around 40-60 meters for the major ones and about 30 meters for the rest were actually narrower than those recorded. 42. For details of the digital reconstruction of Tang period Chang’an, please see Heng Chye Kiang, “Digital Reconstruction of Medieval Chinese Cities” in Milton Tan and Robert Teh, eds., The Global Design Studio, National University of Singapore, 1995, pp. 529-540 ; or “A Multimedia Package on Tang Period Chang’an” in the proceedings of the International Cultural Heritage Informatics Meeting Washington, USA Sept. 22-26, 1999.

Fig. 16. Bird’s eye view of Chang’an which at its peak housed a population of a million

and accurate reconstruction of the city, some views of which are shown here to provide an understanding of the sheer scale of the Tang capital.[42]

Conclusion It is the hypothesis of this paper that in the quest to invent a glorious capital for his emperor, Yuwen Kai had conceived of a new urban paradigm that was susceptible to theoretical manipulations based on certain priorities related to imperial symbolism and practical realities of modular planning. The paradigm developed was used in the first instance for the planning of the Sui capital of Chang’an, perhaps later for Luoyang, and quickly became the model

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for other East Asian cities. More than 100 years later and with further rationalisation, at least three Japanese capitals used it together with the larger dimension of the Tang li as the basic module for its city blocks. Concomitant with the scale of the newly reunified China, the city of Chang’an was immense, larger than any previously built. It was after all the capital of an empire with emperors who commanded boundless resources and whose influence stretched from Japan to Central Asia. Emperor Sui Yangdi, we recall, mustered 100,000 men just to reinforce the city walls, not to mention almost 230 years later, Emperor Wu Zhong proceeded down the Heavenly Street “accompanied by a crowd of 200,000 guards and soldiers”.[43] Today, even as we contemplate the Ming walls of Xi’an, which enclosed but a sixth of the area of Tang Chang’an, we feel a sense of awe that further heightens when one is reminded of the city’s glorious past.

43. Edwin O. Reischauer, Ennin’s Diary : The Record of a Pilgrimage to China in Search of the Law (New York, The Ronald Press Company, 1955), p. 298. The figure 200,000 was most probably much inflated, but it is certain that a very large contingent of guards and soldiers accompanied the emperor.

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Frame and structure of the Fengyuancheng city during the Yuan dynasty Wu Hongqi, Shi Hongshuai

The Xi’an City Frame Evolution from the Yuan to the Late Qing Dynasty

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The frame of the Fengyuancheng city during the Yuan dynasty Xi’an was called Fengyuancheng city during the Yuan dynasty, when it was the provincial capital of Feng Yuan Lu. The successor������������������������������������ ����������������������������������� to Fengyuancheng city was the “new city”, which was rebuilt on the foundations of the inner city in the late years of the Tang dynasty. In 904 AD Zhu Wen compelled Emperor Zhao Zong of the Tang dynasty to move the capital to LuoYang, and from then on Chang’an city (Xi’an) was dismantled and gradually lost its position as capital. Palaces, official residences and civil houses were demolished, and the population declined sharply. Faced with this disastrous situation, Han Jian, a general and the mayor of Chang’an city, rebuilt the city for defense purposes. This story is not mentioned in any of the history books published by the government, but we can find it in the Chang’an zhi tu (“Map of Chang’an City”) written by Li Haowen during the Yuan dynasty. It is said that Han Jian rebuilt the new city. He ordered Gong Cheng city (which means palace city) and the outer city walls to be torn down and rebuilt “Zi city” (according to Li Haowen’s notes, Zi Cheng city was the inner city). The three southern Gates — the Zhu Que Gate, the Yan Xi Gate and the An Fu Gate — were closed. Meanwhile the northern gate, called the Xuan Wu Gate, was opened. Hence the new city came into being and then it became the capital of Feng Yuan Lu. The form of the new city had double walls and four gates. Each gate had three accesses. However, opinions concerning the historical sources differ a lot. In my opinion, Zi Cheng city was not equivalent to the inner city [1-3]. As we know, the outer city, Huang Cheng (which means “imperial city”) and Gong Cheng composed the whole of Chang’an city during the Tang dynasty. The imperial city was re-named Zi (which means the “son”) Cheng because it was located within the outer city. However, in the late years of the Tang dynasty, the name Zi Cheng city referred to Ya Cheng city, where the officials or the guards were stationed. According to the historical data of the Jin and Qing dynasties, Zi Cheng

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city referred to the northern part and some areas of the southern part of today’s Bell Tower district. In addition, Zi Cheng city was divided into five parts by several streets. As we know, the government of the Jin dynasty never built the city wall of Xi’an, and so Zi Cheng city was the original city left by the late Tang dynasty. Throughout the long history of China, building city walls to guard the capital was a tradition in all the dynasties. For instance, the Chang’an city of the Han dynasty had double city walls and the capital of the Tang dynasty had triple city walls. Not only these unitary dynasties, but also the separatist states built thick city walls to guard their cities. For example, in some separatist dynasties, such as the South and North dynasty and the Five dynasties, it was very popular to build thick double or even triple city walls in some important cities.[4] These small inner cities were called Zi Cheng or Ya Cheng. Because the former capital was still very important to the whole country, it was reasonable that Han Jian rebuild Chang’an city after the government moved the capital. He retained two of the original three city walls. The new city had double walls and the length from east to west was a little longer than the breadth from north to south. Meanwhile, for military purposes, Han Jian also built two small cities beside Chang’an city as the seats of Chang’an and Wan Nian counties. They were located immediately adjacent to the big city on the east and west sides, like a mother and her sons. Undoubtedly, at the end of the Tang dynasty and the Five dynasties, this very unique form of the city strengthened the defending capacity of Chang’an city. The frame of the city was kept until the Yuan dynasty. The new city was rebuilt on the foundations of the imperial city of the Tang dynasty, and so its size was almost as large as the old one. According to the seventh volume of “tang liu dian”, the shape of the inner city was rectangular and the length about 2,815.5 m and the breadth from north to south about 1,719.4 m. Today, by measuring the site of the ancient inner city, archaeologists have come to the conclusion that the length of the inner city was 2,820.2 m and the breadth 1,843.6 m. This means that it had a perimeter of 9.2 kilometers and a surface area of about 5.2 square kilometers.[5] The imperial city made up only about one sixth of the entire Chang’an city. Therefore the new city was smaller than the original city in the days of the flourishing Tang dynasty and there was no comparison between them.

The Fengyuancheng city of the Yuan dynasty was closely related to the new city in the late years of the Tang dynasty. According to the ancient map, we can see that there was a Zi Cheng city inside Fengyuancheng. Now we can tell the correct position of the Zi Cheng city according to the ancient map in Chang’an zhi tu written by Li Haowen : it was located almost between the Bell Tower, the Drum Tower and Xidajie Street in today’s Xi’an. The Zi Cheng city was a small rectangular city with a length from east to west that was shorter than its breadth from north to south. Inside the city, a wall from east to west divided the city into two parts. The three gates were opened in the south, east and west walls of the Zi Cheng city, according to the ancient city map. The remarks concerning those gates were clear, but nobody has paid any attention to them. It is a pity that the maps drawn nowadays do not give specific details about the Zi Cheng city. The form of the Zi Cheng city was a little different from the outer city, and its scale was much smaller than the outer city. According to the map of Fengyuancheng city, the Zi Cheng city was located within the north of the Xidajie Street of the Drum Tower district, to the south of the city government, to the east of Beiyuanmen Street and the west of the Beidajie Street of the Drum Tower district. It was also recorded in Chang’an zhi tu that, while Han Jian rebuilt the city, he reduced the original seven gates to five for defense purposes. He closed the Zhu Que Gate in the south wall, the Yan Xi Gate in the east wall, and the An Fu Gate in the west wall, but preserved some of the original gates (two gates in the south wall, one gate in the east wall and one gate in the west wall). In the north wall, the Cheng Tian Gate was re-named Xuan Wu Gate. There were still two gates in the south wall until the end of the Northern Song dynasty. However, during the Yuan dynasty one of them was closed (the Han Guang Gate). From then on the four balanced gates were established [6]

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Inner structure of the Fengyuancheng city during the Yuan dynasty Except for official houses, there were a lot of schools, markets, temples and civil houses inside the new city after rebuilding. Zi Cheng city included official houses that were located at the center, the northwest of the city ; the Imperial Ancestral Temple was located in the southeast of the city ; the altar of the Gods of Earth and

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Xi’an city frame evolution

Fig. 1 The Song-Yuan and Ming-Qing cities establishment by reference to the grid pattern of the Sui-Tang capital. Ref. Shi Nianhai (ed.), Xi’an Lishi Dituji, p. 131

Fig. 2. The gates, markets, northern palaces of the Sui-Tang capital rampart. The Song-Yuan and Ming-Qing walled cities establishment along the West-East axis of Sui-Tang chang’an.

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Grain was situated in the southwest of the city, and the market was located in the north of the city. This kind of inner structure was very different from the original city, but a little similar to the Chang’an city during the Han dynasty. Although it was small, it still fit in with the ancient rites that were recorded in Zhou Li Kao Gong Ji. This style affected Fengyuancheng city deeply. Generally speaking, because of the unbalanced five city gates, the layout of the new city was not neatly arranged. An axis from the Shun Yi Gate to the Jing Feng Gate ran through the city from east to west. At that time, people continued to use the original streets of the former inner city of the Tang dynasty. The three streets — Cheng Tian Men Street, An Shang Men Street and Han Guang Men Street — ran from north to south. However, communications were no longer as easy as during the Tang dynasty because of the closeness of some of the city gates. Consequently a lot of important buildings, for example, the official residences, schools, the Confucian Temple, markets, the Imperial Ancestral Temple, and some other famous temples and government offices were arranged in the center in the north or in the southeastern part of the city. [7] Compared with the inner structure of the city during the Song dynasty, the Jin dynasty and the late years of the Tang dynasty, we find that they were very much the same. This changed little until the Yuan dynasty. According to the Chang’an zhi tu, the government offices were situated in the center of the city in which the Ya Cheng city was located. The commercial district was located in the west of the city. There were some domestic animal markets such as the horse market and the sheep market near the north city gate because of the convenient communications there. From the names of some streets, such as Yin Xiang Jie Street, (which means Silver Street), or Yao Shi Jie Street, (which means Medicine Street), we can tell that they must have had some commercial organizations. It is especially worth mentioning that “Gou Lan” (the recreation area) was noted in the book Chang’an zhi tu. It was located in the west of the city. Some important transport organizations were arranged in the southwest and northwest corners of the city, The religious district was located in the east of the city. Most of them were Taoist temples and some local religion’s temples. Some of them were situated in the east or northeast and southeast of Fengyuancheng city.

Only few temples were established in the west of the city. The cultural district was located in the southeast of the city, where there were some organizations in charge of education and examinations. The civil houses were dispersed and they were often located near the government offices or the city gates. Compared with other areas, they were concentrated in the southeast of the city. Sometimes the civil houses were mixed with offices, temples and cultural organizations.

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Evolution of the frame and structure of Xi’an city during the Ming dynasty During the Ming dynasty, the frame and structure of Xi’an city changed a lot. The four most important changes were as described below (see plate 8). Enlargement of the outer Xi’an city In the early years of the Ming dynasty, Xi’an city expanded to the east and north. This was so important in the history of this city that it laid the foundations for the city’s later development. During the Ming and the Qing dynasties, Xi’an city became more splendid and stronger than it had been under the Song and Yuan dynasties. It became a very important city in northwest China and it was in the finished form that we can see today. According to historical statistics, the expansion of Xi’an city happened at the same time as when it was built in 1368. In the 15 th volume of the book Yong Zheng Shaanxi tong zhi (the history of Shaanxi in the age of Emperor Yong Zheng), it is said that the seats of Xi’an Ning county and Chang’an county moved because the city was enlarged in the early years of the reign of Hong Wu (an emperor of the Ming dynasty). Thus we can estimate the time when the city was extended. Also according to this book, the perimeter of the city was 40 Li (one Li equals 500 m) and its height was 3 Zhang (one Zhang was about 3.3 m). It had four city gates : Chang Le in the east, An Ding in the west, An Yuan in the north and Yong Ding in the south, (their

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names stands for Eternal Joy, Harmony Peace, Harmony Longevity and Eternal Peace). It had four corner towers and ninety-eight rampart towers. The rebuilt city used the original west and south walls of the city wall built by Han Jian, and its north and east walls were extended about one third of their original length. Thus the rebuilt city had a perimeter of 14,112 m ; the length of the east wall was 2,886 m, the west wall 2,708 m, the south wall 4,256 m and the north wall 4,262 m.[8] The area they enclosed was about 11.5 square kilometers and it was about 1/10 th of the Chang’an city of the Tang dynasty. According to measurements, after the enlargement, the city wall had a height of 10-12 m. It was 12-14 m wide at the top and 15-18 m thick at the bottom, and so it was stronger than the city wall during Tang dynasty. Surrounding it there was a deep moat 13.7 kilometers (8.5 miles) long, 6.6 m deep and about 27 m across. Another thick inner wall was built along the inner bank of the moat in order to strengthen the defenses. We must realize that in ancient times the city wall was a great defense work, an impregnable fortress that could check the enemy’s advance. At the four corners of the wall were watchtowers. The one at the southwestern corner was round, probably influenced by the style of the city walls of the Yuan dynasty, but the other three were square-shaped. There was a total of 98 towers on the wall and they were 120 m apart, between the towers that extruded from the main wall. On top of the ramparts were 2 meter- (7 foot-) high battlements called “duo-kou”. On the upper part of the duo-kou were large openings used to watch and shoot at attackers, and on the lower part were small openings, or loopholes, through which defenders could also shoot. The distance between ramparts was just within the range of arrows from either side, which allowed soldiers to protect the entire wall without exposing themselves to the enemy. All together there were 98 great sentry buildings, usually two or three stories high, for the soldiers stationed on the Xi’an city wall. Built outside each gate was a “weng-cheng”, a semicircular or polygonal parapet that shielded the gate from direct assault. The Zhenglou was a triple-eave building 34.6 m (114 feet) long from which generals used to direct their soldiers. On the outer face were 48 openings from which missiles could be fired at the enemy. A Zhalou was built opposite the Zhenglou with a suspension bridge at the rear of the fort. The narrow tower, called

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“Jianlou” from which soldiers could shoot arrows, was connected to the Zhenglou by the weng-cheng. From the weng-cheng, access ramps for horses led to the top of the wall. All together there were 11 horse-passages around the city. The Qin Wang fu cheng (Prefecture of Qin ) city built during the early Ming dynasty (see Fig. 3) Although Xi’an was no longer the capital of China under the Ming , it still kept a double city wall. Inside the outer city wall, there was a small city that was called the Qin Wang fu cheng (the “Prefecture of Qin”) city. There are three different references in historical documents to the time when the Qin Wang fu cheng city was built. The Ming Shi says that it was built in 1370 AD, but the other books, Ming Shi Lu and Da Ming Yi Tong Zhi, say that it was built in 1376 or in 1371. In my opinion, the project was begun in 1371 and finished in 1376. Xi’an city was a typical double city owing to the Qin Wang fu cheng city. The latter was a double city, too. According to the fifth volume of Jia Jing Shaanxi Tong Zhi, the inner city wall of Qin Wang fu cheng city was made of bricks and outside it was a screen wall. The screen wall was about 4,500 m long. We can draw the broad outlines of the city thanks to some historical documents from the Qing dynasty. It must have been a double rectangular city, and the distance from north to south was longer than the length from east to west. The city wall was torn down during the early Qing dynasty. The inner city was rebuilt as a training ground for the “Eight Banners”(military administrative organizations of the Man nationality under the Qing dynasty). Starting with the founding of the Republic of China, the government offices of Shaanxi province began to be located here. The former inner city was located in today’s provincial government seat and Xin Cheng square. The height of Qin Wang fu cheng city was roughly the same as the city wall of Xi’an and its moat was smaller. The Qin Wang fu cheng city covered 1 /10 th of the entire city. Including the screen wall, it would cover a quarter of Xi’an city. Eight gates were opened. Four of them were in the inner city wall and the others were on the screen wall. The Jia Jing Shaanxi tong zhi says that a lot of palaces were built within the inner city. The Cheng Yun Dian palace was the main hall of the entire compound. It stood in front of the other palaces. The Yuan Dian palace and

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Wu Hongqi, Shi Hongshuai


Fig 3. Xi’an city in Ming Dynasty. The map’s original source : Jia Jing Shaanxi Tong Zhi, volume 7, published in emperor Jia Jing reign (1522-1566).

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Fig. 4. The urban structure of Xi’an city in the Qing Dynasty.

the Cun Xin Dian palace were situated behind it. Except for the palaces, there also were some side halls for the prefect, his sons and concubines. In addition, there were some other important buildings in the Qin city. For example : the Altar of the Mountain and River and the Altar to the Gods of Earth and Grain were located in the southwest of the city ; there were also ancestral temples, gardens and pavilions there. Seen in its entirety, the city was a very typical one for a prefecture of the Ming dynasty, designed like any other historical capital, with front courtyard, posterior bedchamber, to the left an ancestral temple and to the right an Earth and Grain Temple. The concubine’s palaces were arranged to the right, and the eldest son’s palace to the left. This kind of design was the same as the imperial city of Chang’an during the Tang dynasty. The Cheng Yun palace was the main hall of the city, and it was also at the center of the buildings. It was very splendid and magnificent. The axis, made up of many successive doors from north to south, was much longer than the

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east-west axis. In front of the main hall, there were three successive squares to make the axis clearer. [9] The outer city wall in the late Ming dynasty It was during the middle or late Ming dynasty that the eastern outer city of Xi’an was built. In 1869 and 1895, the government repaired and enlarged it. The wall was built of earth, rammed layer upon layer, and 914 Bu (Bu, an old measure of length, equivalent to 1.67 m) from north to south and 1,085 Bu from east to west. It was an irregular rectangular city and the largest of the four outer cities. There were bridges that connected it to the outer city across the moat. Eleven streets divided the east outer city into twelve lanes. Some Buddhist or Taoist temples, government offices and educational establishments settled there. The site extended from today’s Xing Qing Road in the northeast, to the moat in the west, to west Xian Ning Road in the south and to Yong Le Road in the north. The southern outer city was built approximately from 1628 to 1644. A local official named Sun Chuanting

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built it in order to defend the insurrectionary army. It belonged to Xian Ning County. An earthen wall was built in the east, west and south measuring 350 Bu from north to south and 190 Bu from east to west. One gate was in the south wall and the other two were in the east and west walls. There was an axial street from north to south in the city. The site extended from today’s Dong Houdi Road in the north to Xi Houdi Road in the west, to Nan Guan Zheng Jie Road in the south and to the moat in the north. The southern outer city was built in 1628-1644. It belonged to Chang’an County. Earth walls were built in the west, north and south, 320 Bu from north to south and 880 Bu from east to west. Five gates were opened and two of them were in the east wall. The site extended from today’s Bei Huo Xiang Lane in the north to Ren Min Xin Cun in the south, to the western moat in the east and to Xi Shao Men Road in the west. The northern outer city was built before 1644 and rebuilt in 1895. Inside the city, Bei Guo Street was the boundary of Xian Ning County and Chang’an County. The city extended 440 Bu from south to north and 232 Bu from east to west. The site was on both sides of Bei Guan Zheng Jie Road. In each of the outer cities there was a main road connecting the city gate and the main streets of Xi’an city. It divided the outer city into two equal sections. The other streets were distributed on either side of the main road. Except for the eastern outer city, there were few lanes or houses in the outer city. Moving the Bell Tower The large-scale expansion in the early Ming dynasty laid a foundation for later development. In 1582, the moving of the Bell Tower caused a series of changes in Xi’an city, and so this project was an important milestone in the history of Xi’an. From then on, the Bell Tower became the central point of the city and starting from there were four main streets extending in four directions. They divided the whole city into four districts. The northeastern district was the largest and the southwestern district the smallest. Compared to the city of the Yuan dynasty, Xi’an city became progressively clearer during the Ming dynasty. The offices, cultural organizations or commercial markets were no longer mixed. It even affects Xi’an city’s inner structure today.

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Evolution of the frame and structure of Xi’an city during the Qing dynasty Nan Cheng city and Man Cheng city caused some changes to Xi’an city during the Qing dynasty (see Fig. 4). Man Cheng city in Xi’an city Xi’an city was a double city under the Qing as well as under the Ming. Within the big city, two small cities were built. To station the “Eight Banners” soldiers, the Man Cheng city was built on the foundations of the Qin Wang Fu Cheng city of the Ming dynasty. Another small city — Nan Cheng city — was located southeast of the Man Cheng city. It was a campsite for Han soldiers. Therefore Xi’an city as a whole consisted of three cities. Because the Qing dynasty was a minority regime, the government had to control Xi’an city to conquer northwest and central China. As soon as the Qing army captured Xi’an in 1645, they began to build the Man Cheng city. As recorded in the Jia Qing Xian Ning Xian Zhi, Man Cheng city was built in the southeast of the city, on the foundations of the Qin Wang Fu Cheng city of the Ming dynasty. In fact, the latter was larger than the former because two city walls were built from the Bell Tower to the north and east gates. The project was so great that it took almost four years to finish. According to measurements, the perimeter of the Man Cheng city was about 8,767 m: 2,466 m long from east to west, and 1,917 m wide from north to south. Thus its area was 4.8 square kilometers and it was almost half as large as the whole city. Undoubtedly, the Man Cheng strengthened the defense forces of Xi’an city. Meanwhile, the governor could strengthen his control of the civilians. As a campsite for stationing soldiers and their families, the distribution of the Man Cheng city was filled with a military atmosphere. Besides, it reserved some residences in the Qin Wang Fu Cheng city. An ancient map of Xi’an from 1893 (see plate 11) and accompanying note shows that there were seven main streets and 94 small lanes inside Man Cheng city. Today we can find their location and names as shown

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on the map. There were six streets from east to west. They were arranged from south to north and called Xi Hua Men Street, (today’s Xi Xin Jie Street), Xin Cheng Men Street, (today’s Hou Zai Men Street), Tou Tiao Jie Street, (north of Hou Zai Men Street), Er Tiao Jie Street, (today’s Xi QI Lu Street), San Tiao Jie Street, (today’s Xi Ba Lu Street) and a shorter one, Bei Du Tong Jie (today’s Wu Si Lane). There was only one street from north to south, called An Ban Jie Street (the same name as today). Of those streets, Xi Hua Men Street, Xin Cheng Men Street and Er Tiao Jie Street were the main roads that ran through Man Cheng city. East from An Ban Jie Street there were three other roads running through the city from north to south. The road net connected the Men Cheng city to the main city. It also established the trace of the roads arranged in the northeast of Xi’an. Since the founding of the Republic of China these roads have been rebuilt and enlarged. A large number of lanes can be found on the map. They were well arranged and named according to their order and situation. Today we can find this characteristic of the street names in the northeast of Xi’an.[10] The Nan Cheng city of Xi’an In order to put down rebellions and peasant uprisings, in addition to the Man people troops, the government dispatched Han people troops to strengthen fighting capacity. Then, after establishing the Man Cheng city, Nan Cheng city (which means southern city) was built to the south of it. It was in 1683 that the Nan Cheng city was built. Then the troops were stationed there for ninety-eight years and moved out in 1780. From then on, the city was abandoned. Nan Cheng city made use of the walls of the big city, or Man Cheng city, as its own walls in the north, south and east. Only the east wall was new. It extended from today’s Ma Chang Zi Street to Dong Xian Men Street, running from northwest to southeast. So the city had the shape of an irregular trapezoid. The number of gates to Nan Cheng city changed at different times. In 1683, when the city began to be built, two gates were opened in the north wall. In this way the two inner cities were connected with the near gates and formed a complete city military area. No other gates were opened in the wall, and so it was not very convenient for soldiers to

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go in and out of the city. Therefore in 1739, a new gate was opened in the west wall. The area of Nan Cheng city was only 0.53 square kilometers, much smaller than Man Cheng city. In fact, the former corresponded only to 11 % of the latter and 6.5 % of the city as a whole. Its north wall was about 1,000 m long, the south wall was 750 m, the east wall was 600 m and the west wall about 750 m long. The arrangement of the Nan Cheng city was simple for its small area. However, it never weakened the military characteristics. Buildings were almost always placed in the northern city and hardly in the southern city. There was open ground for the troops stationed in the northwestern city. Some streets and lanes were well arranged from east to west. A general office was located in the northeast of the city.[10] Arrangement of the streets and development of commercial districts in Xi’an during the Qing dynasty The structure of the city changed a lot because of the establishment of the two small inner cities. It changed the communication and street arrangement, too. To a certain degree, the new emerging cities destroyed the original transportation system. For example, some streets left by the Ming dynasty no longer worked because the two inner cities cut them off. During the Qing dynasty, the arrangement of the lanes and streets in Xi’an city was almost the same as in the Ming dynasty. The city was composed of a residential district, a commercial district, a cultural and educational district and a military district. In the southwest of Xi’an city there were two main streets, called Nan Yuan Men Street and Bang Zi Shi Street, extending from east to west and dividing the district into two parts. Besides, there were two other streets running from east to west and four streets from south to north. The names of these streets or lanes varied a lot. Some of them were given an auspicious name, such as Yong Shou (which means “long life”) Lane or Bao Ji (“fortunate”) Lane ; some were named after professions, for example : the south and north You (“oil”) Lane and the Yan Dian (“salt shop”) Street ; some got their names from surnames, such as the Song Lane and Lu Lane ; others alluded to the water conditions there, such as Tian Shui Jing (“sweet-water well”) Lane, etc.

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Wu Hongqi, Shi Hongshuai

In the northwest of Xi’an, there were four streets running from east to west and three streets from north to south. This district was also the settlement of the Hui people (a minority nationality in China). The lanes in this district were often used as streets and convenient for communication. In the southeast of Xi’an, three main streets ran from east to west and two main streets from north to south. There were also more than ten lanes distributed there. In the early Ming dynasty, when Xi’an city was enlarged by the foundation of the Feng Yuan Cheng city of the Yuan dynasty, the commercial districts were arranged in the southwestern and northeastern cities, or along Nan Da Jie (“south”) Street. This kind of arrangement was the same as during the Yuan dynasty. In the west part of the city, there were three markets : Yang Shi, Cheng Huang Miao and Nan Yuan Men. In the east, the famous markets were called Dong Mu Tou Shi, Xi Mu Tou Shi and Cai Shi. During the Qing dynasty business in Xi’an was more prosperous than before. There were more than ten markets in the city. Most of them were established in Nan Yuan Men or Bei Yuan Men, and near the east city gate. The shops belonged to professions that were often kept together. Sometimes the commercial districts and the office districts coincided. However, because business was forbidden in the Man Cheng city, there were no shops in this district. The main markets were often located in the regions that had convenient communications and a dense population. The markets with a zonal shape and the stores with a spot shape formed the basic frame of the commercial pattern in Xi’an during the Qing dynasty. The partition of trade was special. To some degree, the concentration of shops with the same profession greatly improved the development of Xi’an city’s commercial areas. The building of the Nan Cheng city and the Man Cheng city not only affected the communications but also promoted the enlargement of the commercial district near the east city gate. The structure of Xi’an city changed from a double wall city to a city with two districts. The Man Cheng city and the big city were connected by only one gate and, because there were no commercial organizations in the Man Cheng city, the Man people had to go out of the small city to get their daily necessities. Secondly, the Man soldiers lived in the east part of the Man Cheng city while their military district was situated in the western city. It was reasonable then that they buy

things in the markets near the east city gate. In addition, the east city gate was the only access point where the merchants came in and went out, so the government set up a tax office there and some inns in the district. The foundation of this kind of organization was a mirror of this district’s development. Compared with the dispersed shops, the newly emerging guildhalls of the middle Qing dynasty were located close to each other. They were established in southwestern Xi’an city and near the commercial district of Nan Yuan Men. More than ten provinces built guildhalls there, including the Fu Jian, An Hui, He Nan, Hu Bei and Hu Nan, Gan Su, Shan XI, Shan Dong, Jiang Xi provinces. The others were spread in other areas. The guildhalls were the merchants’ residence. With the blooming of trade, the guildhalls became places for exchanging information, depositing goods and providing accommodations for the merchants coming from other places. The newly emerging guildhalls were mirrors of the prosperity of business and trade in Xi’an.

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1. Wu Bolun, The Outline History of Xi’an, published by the Shaanxi People’s Publishing Company in 1979, p. 281. 2. Ma Zhenglin, Feng Hao — Chang’an — Xi’an, published by the Shaanxi People’s Publishing Company in 1970, p. 90. 3. Xin Deyong, “Some Issues about Xi’an from the Late Tang to the Early Ming,” Shaanxi Normal University Journal, 1990(1). 4. Shi Nianhai, Shi Xianzhi, “The Xiao Cheng City, Zi Cheng city and Huang Cheng City in Chang’an City in the Northern and Southern Dynasty”, Forum for the Historical Geography of China, 1997(1). 5. Group report of the Institute of Social Sciences of China, “The Archaeological Study of Xi’an in the Tang Dynasty”, Archaeology, 1963(11). 6. Wu Hongqi, “The Frame and Structure of Xi’an City in the Late Tang and the Five Dynasties”, Forum for the Historical Geography of China, 1999(2). 7. Shi Nianhai, The Atlas of Historical Geography of Xi’an, published by the Xi’an Map Publishing Company in 1996. 8. Xi’an archives, Overall View of Xi’an, published by the Shaanxi People’s Publishing Company in 1993, p. 191. 9. Wu Hongqi, Dang Anrong, “The Qin Wang Fu Cheng in the Ming Dynasty”, Forum for the Historical Geography of China, 1999(3). 10. Wu Hongqi, Shi Hongshuai, “The Man Cheng City and the Nan Cheng City in the Qing Dynasty”, Forum for the Historical Geography of China, 2000(3).

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Ren Yunying�

The Evolution of The cit y’s Spatial form and the Structure of XI’an (1840 - 1949) The century between 1840 and 1949, marked by the emergence of early modern industries, was a major transition period. It indicated the end of an agricultural society that had lasted for a very long time. Furthermore, the properties of Society began to change during this period. The hundred years following the Opium Wars of 1840 saw the essential machine-industry factors of production gradually develop. But the initial phases of the industrialization of Xi’an city were a very slow process and seem to have been hindered in their progress by wars, forced labor and natural disasters. The spatial form of the Shaanxi capital of Xi’an was determined by the administrative inner city of the Tang dynasty, which included the ministry offices subordinated to the emperor and was called Huang Cheng city.

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It acted as a capital city for 1,133 years, and for about 1,400 years as a provincial capital. Its spatial form was associated with the traditional feudal organization of China, which was an agricultural society marked by the concentration of power and political institutions, as well as clan and ethnic blood-tie systems, etc. Its structure demonstrated the special features of a power center. Xi’an no longer acted as the imperial capital after the end of the Tang Dynasty (904 AD), the great historical turning point of the city. An ideal capital form disappeared which had been characterized by standards of good order and the observance of the ceremonial system. The new city at the end of the Tang Dynasty gradually became a regional center city after having been a national center. Before 1949, Xi’an was a major center of military affairs in this feudal society. It had endured in this capacity for 1,400 years, through the Wu Dai, Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties and on to the Min Guo period, etc. Until the Ming dynastic period, the palace of a prince acted as the center ; it was occupied by one of the emperor’s sons who was granted the title of a Qin Wang. The military defense installations and constructions of the city were rebuilt at the beginning of the Ming Dynasty, in order to make it the guardian of the territories of northwestern China. Accordingly, it presented itself as a triple city with a clearly defined median axis, in which stood the Qin Wang’s palace, the capital within the city walls, and the Guan Cheng city in the peripheral area outside the four gates of the capital city. However the first modification of the city form into a non-symmetrical pattern was made in 1649 (in the 6 th year of Emperor Shun Zhi’s reign), with the building first of Man Cheng city, and then of Nan Cheng city (built in 1683, the 22 nd year of Emperor Kang Xi’s reign) during the Qing dynastic period. Even though Nan Cheng became the local-style residential area after the Han nationality armed forces stopped belonging to the “Eight Banners” system after 1779 (the 45 th year of Emperor Qian Long’s reign), Xi’an city remained a military stronghold during this particular period. The distribution of the urban space shows the characteristic relations of a feudal agricultural society : closure property, introversion property and defense property. Furthermore, during the hundred years (1840-1949) that stretched from the Late Qing Dynasty to the dawn of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Xi’an city underwent a transition period in which it developed

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Ren Yunying

gradually from a pre-industrial society to an industrialized society. But development during this period was very slow since it was repeatedly subject to the influences of armed conflicts such as the Westernization Movement, the Revolution of 1911, the warfare among the Northern Warlords and the Anti-Japan War, as well as the many peasant uprisings that occurred throughout this process. After the Revolution of 1911, a profound and longlasting influence gave rise to the modernization of Xi’an, since the political system was changed from a feudal monarchy to a national parliament. The character of the city’s spatial form was correspondingly altered, in order to turn it into a city of Diversity, Humanity and Openness as required for the character of a modern city with modern activities, such as industrial enterprises, commerce, finance, and a press. The developing transitional period in Xi’an from 1840 to 1949 was divided into two particular periods by the Revolution of 1911 : the first being the Late Qing Dynasty period and the second the Min Guo period.

After the Opium War of 1840, the Late Qing Dynasty government began to further strengthen the local troop contingents on the one hand, and to levy the taxes on the other. In 1858 (the 8 th year of Emperor Xian Feng’s reign), the Shaanxi local government began to levy the provincial farmer transit duty in the provincial capital again. This duty was also introduced in other areas of the Shaanxi province. During this stage, the public economy of Shaanxi suffered and people’s lives were extremely hard owing to the heavy taxes and military cost of the war. Not only that, but in succeeding years there was a series of disasters, including droughts, hailstorms, earthquakes and epidemics. In order to exist and to improve their miserable condition, the people were forced to stand up and resist the exploitation, the famine and the corrupt politics. There were several peasant revolutions in Shaanxi Province, and some military actions by insurrectional peasant forces from other provinces between 1859 (the 9 th year of Emperor Xian Feng’s reign) and 1869 (the 8 th year of Emperor Tong Zhi’s reign). Examples are : the residents living in Baoji Guozhen town who assembled to destroy the commerce tax bureau in 1859, the anti-tax struggles launched by the Lintong County peasants in 1861, the Li and Lan Revolution in Yun Nan province in 1862, the actions of the peasants’ army of Tai Ping Heavenly Kingdom in Shaanxi in 1862, the Shaanxi Muslim revolution in 1862 — which lasted for about 7 years — the Nian Jun Army revolution in that same year, the anti-famine campaigns of Ningxia Province in 1865 and the north of Shaanxi Province in 1868. As we can see, the economy of the Shaanxi society was severely affected by the wars during those times. Modern industry had a very difficult start under such unfavorable conditions. During the Late Qing Dynasty, there was a major overhaul of the economic structure of China. The development of modern industry in Xi’an started much later than in the coastal trade cities of China. Modernization in Xi’an was very slow precisely because of its location deep inland. The machine-manufacturing bureau of military affairs was founded in part according to principles of modern industrial organization. This was the case of the Xi’an Machine Manufacturing Bureau, which was founded by Zuo Zongtang, a famous minister of the Late Qing Dynasty, in order to suppress the Muslim revolution in the Shaanxi and Gansu provinces. Afterwards he moved this bureau to Lanzhou city to deal with the insurrectional

The urban spatial forms’ evolution in the Late Qing Dynasty period 1840-1911 The first important development period of the urban spatial form and structure of Xi’an lasted from 1840 to the Revolution of 1911 (see plate 11). This period should be divided into three stages according to the different character of the urban form development. The first stage : from the Opium Wars of 1840 to the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895 The modern military industry was established and the spatial form of the city was adapted to the requirements of military affairs and policies. It appears to have had the character of closure property, introversion property and defense property that were the premises for an early industrial society.

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army. In 1895 (the 21 st year of Emperor Guang Xu’s reign), The Shaanxi Machine Bureau was established in Xi’an by Shaanxi chief executive Zhang Rumei with the permission of the imperial government. The Machine Bureau manufactured military uniforms, cartridges, and the necessary military supplies and materials for the armed forces of the government. This may be regarded as the starting point of Xi’an’s modern military industry, and of course its determinant impulse were the requirements of military affairs. This resulted, however, in an obvious imbalance in the development of modern industry in Xi’an. The appearance over a long period of time of such harmful phenomena as widespread impoverishment, social disturbance, political corruption, etc., seriously affected the local Shaanxi society and its economy. Governmental authorities began implementing measures to help postwar refugees and develop the society’s economy in the 1870’s. After the peasant armed forces were suppressed, the local Shaanxi authorities re-settled refugees, veterans and famine victims, making them open up wastelands and cultivate more land. The local chief executive of the Shaanxi and Gansu provinces distributed books like the “Ten Kinds of cotton Technology and the Cotton Book” throughout the two provinces and established organizations to teach people techniques of spinning and weaving. Planting cotton was gradually generalized in this way. These measures helped the social economy and productive forces to recover to some extent. At the same time ideas for reform in Shaanxi were very much on the move during this particular period. The famous scholar Liu Guangfen was appointed president of the Weijing Academy of Classical Learning, which had been established by officials of Jingyang County in Shaanxi Province. He adopted progressive measures in the science courses that completed such required courses as the “Four Books”, the “Five Classics”, the “Reference of the Ruler “and “ Zhu Zi’s Recorded Words”. Moreover he asserted the principle of universal education in order to make the country rich and build up the national military strength, advocating research application, disseminating ideas of advanced civilization, and so on. He played an important part in the development of Xi’an’s economy and culture, promoting the spread of education and ideas during this period.

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Xi’an’s spatial structure from 1840 to 1949

At this stage, the urban form of Xi’an city was still marked by military-defense property and the constant reinforcements for war that had to be made from the Ming to the end of the Qing dynastic periods. The city had been given the structure of a crossroads by using the Bell tower as the center, with Man Cheng city to the northeast of the city. Man Cheng covered an area of about 3 km2 and occupied approximately 40 percent of Xi’an, and its ground belonged to the military. Peripheral cities at the gates of Xi’an city formed four outer cities (called Guo Cheng) that could prevent the enemy from directly attacking the capital. The defensive capacity of the capital city was strengthened considerably under the favorable social and economic conditions of that period. The building history of Man Cheng can be traced back to 1649 (the 6 th year of Emperor Shun Zhi’s reign). It was an inner city inhabited by a population of the Man nationality which had been settled in Xi’an. We can understand the detailed conditions of Man Cheng from the map of Xi’an as surveyed by the ZhongHuan Map Department in 1893 (the 19 th year of Emperor Guang Xu’s reign). Man Cheng was built on the foundations of the inner city of the Ming Dynasty. The “Eight Banners” of the armed forces of Man nationality were stationed there with their families. There were also commanding government offices of feudal China such as the General Government Office, the Left Wing Government Office and the Right Wing Government Office. The former Ming Dynasty palace of the prince (brick city) was turned into drill grounds for the Eight Banners in 1757 (the 22 nd year of Emperor of Qian Long’s reign). Man Cheng destroyed the balance of the layout of the capital and represented a sort of unjust society in relation to the nationalities problem. The people of Man nationality could live in Man Cheng city for their entire lives without doing any work, because their living expenses were covered according to the system of the time. They could only serve in the army and go to war. Thanks to the survey and drawing maps of Xi’an city from 1893 (the 19 th year of Emperor Guang Xu’s reign), we have some information on the overall layout characteristics of Xi’an city. There were three sections to the city, with the bell tower as a central point at the crossing of the main arteries. The first section was Man Cheng city in the northeast quadrant of the capital, with the former palace of the prince used as drill grounds by the army of Man nationality. The second section of the city was the

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Ren Yunying

capital city of the Ming Dynasty, and the third was Guan Cheng city beyond the four gates of the capital. In the capital city’s layout, the administrative institutions were located chiefly on the west side of Man Cheng city. The commercial and educational area, located chiefly in the south of the city, included such establishments as the commerce guild halls in the Nan Yuanmen Street, while the educational center lay along the street jointly used by the Guan Zhong Academy of Classical Learning, the Confucian temple, the Xianning and Chang’an Classical Learning schools, etc. Many different temples and mosques were still distributed throughout the city. The mosques were located mainly to the northwest of the Bell Tower in the residential sector of the Muslim population. The Guanyu temples were located in Man Cheng and other places. It is thus clear that the societal conditions and atmosphere were full of contradictions, in which predominantly the military spirit was encouraged and the favor and protection of the gods were sought.

In the meantime, the measures for modernization marched slowly onward. Some infrastructures of the city were developed gradually and only with difficulty, such as telegraphic communications in Xi’an. The telegraph office was established east of the Nan Yuan ministry courtyard of the governor-general (today the old Shaanxi Province Library ) in 1890 (the 16 th year of Emperor Guang Xu’s reign). There were only two communication lines between Xi’an and the outer world ; one connecting Taiyuan and Baoding from Tongguan in the east, and one from Suzhou connecting Changwu and Lanzhou in the west. All in all the development of the urban form suffered from the restrictions of military affairs and political conditions. The city was formed by a triple city wall structured by the Guan Cheng city wall, the capital city wall, and the Man Cheng city wall — at the cost of a corresponding imbalance in the distribution of land. It demonstrated an extreme imbalance between the actual functions of the city and the need for land for other urban functions. Some modern types of functions of the capital city were

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Fig. 1. Sketch Map for the Commercial Market Distributing of Xi’an City in the Late Qing Dynasty.

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gradually coming into being, but the existing layout characteristics, with Man Cheng city at the center, were maintained throughout this period in Xi’an. The evolution of the urban spatial form at the second stage in the Late Qing Dynasty (1895-1900) This period stretched from the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895 to the Ba Guo Lianjun army’s invasion of China (the “Eight Countries Army” 1895-1900). It was a period of humiliation in the history of China and an acute revolution in social ideas. On the one hand, national consciousness was awakened by the fact that the country was invaded and ravaged by the imperialistic powers of the West. On the other hand, the political system of the Late Qing Dynasty was unsuited to meet the demands of the period. Looked at objectively, this stage was an important preparatory phase of conceptualization for the modernization of Xi’an. The characteristics of the urban form were still kept with the properties of military affairs. The Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895 ended with the Treaty of Shimonoseki that was signed by both countries. This unfair treaty confronted China with an unprecedented national crisis and demonstrated that China had become a semi-colonial nation. Accordingly, it immediately met strong opposition throughout the land. The patriotic enthusiasm of the population grew fast, with actions of resistance to invasion and capitulation. The study of history may conclude that what happened during this period not only prepared the material conditions for the reform movements and the democratic revolution to come, but also established their conceptual foundations. Ideas for reforming society arose in this particular period and further stimulated national consciousness by way of two issues. The first issue was the famous affair in which a candidate for the imperial examinations submitted a written statement to Emperor Guang Xu with a scheme for introducing reforms in China. This affair had a huge public influence in China and marked the turning point from dictatorship to democracy. The second issue that caused a clear change in people’s way of thinking was the permission to use machines extensively. Owing to the fact that the Late Qing Dynasty government had changed the old regulation of strict restrictions in industrial development and permitted the establishment of manufacturing plants by private persons and non-official organizations, the Chinese national industry and commerce was given the opportunity for an

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Xi’an’s spatial structure from 1840 to 1949

initial development. Also the enlightened merchants and intellectuals of Shaanxi contributed funds to the Spinning and Weaving Bureau and sent candidates to study the technologies of the cotton cloth weaving bureau in Hubei Province. The modernization development of Xi’an almost stagnated during this particular period ; only the Military Uniform Bureau of Xi’an was built in 1896 (today the site of the Eighth Middle School in Dongxianmen Street). But the reforming ideas continued to spread. As a result, the first official publishing house, called Qin Zhong, was founded and the first typesetting machine was purchased for Xi’an. The first newspaper (a monthly magazine) was established and called the Qin Zhong Publishing House Report. Also, the first non-official newspaper Guangtongbao (newspapers and periodicals, semi-monthlies with woodcut prints) was established in 1897 (the 23 rd year of Emperor of Guang Xu’s reign). Although the Reform Movement of 1898 failed in the end, it successfully promoted new ideas such as the concept of a capitalist class, studied the political systems of the West with great effort, disseminated Western social political and scientific culture, lit the torch of patriotism and democracy, stimulated the modern consciousness throughout the nation, promoted the awakening of the Chinese people, as it had also promoted the capitalist class revolution earlier. The urban form, however, was maintained and failed to change and develop, but the motivating forces of modernization were already underway. The evolution of the urban spatial form at the third stage of the Late Qing Dynasty (1900-1911) This period stretched from the time that the Late Qing Dynasty was implementing a series of political measures — before Emperor Guang Xu and the empress dowager Ci Xi returned to Beijng from Xi’an after the Eight Countries forces attacked Beijing — until the eve of the foundation of the Min Guo period. During this period, the essential modernization factors of production in Xi’an were still in the initial stages of development and the urban spatial form characteristics that had been created during the Qing Dynasty period were maintained, while a new foundation oriented toward modernization had been introduced. The new political measures implemented in Shaanxi can be summed up in the following four factors : the first factor was the establishment of a new school system.

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Ren Yunying

The second factor concerned the re-organization of the armed forces. The third factor was the establishment of the Foreign Affairs Bureau, a training course for officials and an official newspaper, the Qin Zhong. The fourth factor was the re-organization of the postal services and the telegraphic system, which facilitated the exchange of information between the different regions of China. The educational system was developed according to the guiding principle of “Traditional educational thought as the origin, and Western-style educational content as the assistance”. Shaanxi University Hall was established on the site of the provincial capital examination organization and the Chonghua Academy of Classical Learning in 1902. Other new-style schools were successively established in the later years, such as the Shaanxi Normal School, the Defence Preparations School, the Law and Politics school, and the Hongdao School of Industry. After 1904 (the 30 th year of Emperor Guang Xu’s reign), the practice of sending students to study abroad was inaugurated ; this involved public-expense students as well as private-expense students. Many of the students who had studied in Japan became the commanding core of the new armed forces of the Revolution in 1911. The Xi’an telegraph office started functioning in 1889 (the 15 th year of Emperor Guang Xu’s reign). This bureau was set up in the Huanggong Ci Memorial Temple in Bangzishi Street, and then moved to Ma Fangmen, where it also began handling postal matters. Four postal routes were opened : the first from Xi’an to Chengdu via Fengxiang (in the western part of the Guanzhong area), the second from Xi’an to Luoyang via Tong Guan, the third from Xi’an to Shang Zhou (in the southern part of the Shaanxi province), and the fourth from Xi’an to Lao Hekou. In 1903, the Shaanxi Postal Affairs Management Bureau was established in Ma Fang Men, and then moved to Dong Da Jie Street (the main eastern thoroughfare in Xi’an). Henceforth, additional post offices were gradually established in various other areas. Each county around Xi’an set up its own post office. The commission organization was gradually established in some of the important villages and small townships. The Xi’an post office inaugurated its international postal service in 1906 (the 32 nd year of Emperor Guang Xu’s reign). To some extent, it effected some changes in the closed communications conditions of Xi’an. Commerce was also developed to some extent during this particular period. Ten buildings were built to invite

business investments outside the courtyard corridor of the government offices of Shaanxi Province in 1905 (the 31 st year of Emperor Guang Xu’s reign), later becoming the First Market of Shaanxi Province. The Shaanxi Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1908 (the 34 th year of Emperor Guang Xu’s reign). The Great Qing Dynasty Bank Shaanxi Branch was founded in Xi’an in 1909 (the first year of Emperor Xuan Tong’s reign). Ten foreign goods shops, such as the Hui Feng Xiang Shop, the Qing Feng Yu Shop and the Wen Sheng Xiang Shop were created. Modern industry was also given a new thrust during this period. The government of Xi’an founded the Shaanxi Technology Factory in 1904 (the 30 th year of Emperor Guang Xu’s reign) in Bei Yuan Men Street ; this was the first spinning and weaving manufactory in Xi’an. The Senrong Match Corporation was founded by a businessman in that same year, and was the first match factory in Xi’an. Although modern industry was still in its beginnings, it was a strong stimulus for urban construction and development. Additionally, first steps were taken to modernize the traffic system. The society gradually began to understand that a well-adapted traffic system would have an important effect on the urban development of Xi’an. Shaanxi officials and private entrepreneurs requested the authorization to build the Xi-Tong (Xi’an-Tong guan) railway in Shaanxi Province in 1905 (the 31 st year of Emperor Guang Xu’s reign). In 1909 (the first year of Emperor Xuan Tong’s reign), they were given permission to found the Xi-Tong Railway Corporation in order to build the new railway with loans from a foreign source. Briefly summarized, after the Opium Wars and until the Revolution of 1911, Xi’an benefited from the Machine Bureau, a new type of educational structure, and the modernization of news and press organs and installations. Through the influence of the modern Westernization Movement, the progress of ideas and concepts of the people was very active during this particular period. The number of news publishing units, which added up to approximately ten, and the number of newspapers — close to ten as well — contributed to this development. Meanwhile, the industrial economical development was much slower in comparison to that of the coastal cities of China, for very few industries were developed that could be said to be representative of modern times. In 1894 (the 20 th year of Emperor Guang Xu’s reign), the Shaanxi Machine Manufacturing Bureau was founded, and the Military Uniforms Bureau was founded two years later.

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Until 1904, the only other industries developed by the government were the match company and the Shaanxi Technology Factory (engaged in handwork spinning and weaving). Obviously, the development of the urban form was slow and, again, deprived of the supporting motivation for the development of modern industry.

Xi’an’s spatial structure from 1840 to 1949

The evolution of the urban spatial form during the Min Guo period in Xi’an (1911-1949) After the Revolution of 1911, Man Cheng City, in which the armed forces subordinated to the emperor had lived for years, was dismantled. It was the era of Xi’an city’s development in which form and structure were given characteristics that differed from the times of feudalism. The developments during the 38 years of the Min Guo period can be divided into three stages.

Fig. 2. Map of the City Scope in the different periods of the Minguo. According to the Archives of the Minguo Period. Xi’an Archives, Shaanxi Province, R.P. of China.

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The first stage before becoming the vice-capital of the Min Guo government (1912-1932) The urban pattern since the Late Qing Dynasty changed because of the dismantling of the city of Man Cheng. Dongdajie Street was widened to serve as the commercial street, thus establishing a new city as the center of the former Man Cheng. But the development in the city was lacking in motivating energy due to the exactions of the conflicts between the warlords. It was a new historical period for Xi’an. Man Cheng suffered serious destruction during the Revolution of 1911 (the 3 rd year of Emperor Xuan Tong’s reign). The Man Cheng city wall was dismantled by the Revolutionary government in the 9 th and 12 th months of the first year of the Min Guo period in 1912. Then the Beidajie and Dongdajie streets along the foundations of the Man Cheng city wall were widened to a width of 30 meters. Soon afterwards, according to unified stipulations for the size and traditional style of the buildings, two rows of commercial houses were built along the two sides of Dongdajie Street. Thus the commercial center of the Ming and Qing dynastic periods of the Xi’an capital in the Nan Yuanmen and Xidajie streets was gradually replaced by the commercial Dongdajie Street. In 1928 (the 17 th year of the Min Guo period), the local government of Xi’an turned Man Cheng into a new district, renovating, incorporating, widening and straightening roads and unifying their names, etc. A checkerboard type of road system was then established, enclosing 30 blocks measuring about 50 Mu (approx. 33,333 m2). Since the Guanzhong area was hit by a bad drought and yielded poor crops in that year, the provincial and city governments provided work programs to relieve the

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Ren Yunying

population. They built the Minleyuan Garden on the north side of a road within the Zhongshan City Gate, and also rebuilt Dongdajie Street, Xidajie Street, Nandajie Street and Beidajie Street by replacing the broken stone surfaces of the streets with oblong stone blocks. At the same time the government demolished some buildings in order to meet the new traffic needs of the city, such as the outer gate that was attached to the city wall and the archway that was decorated at the end of the street. Four roads were built from the city wall in the north to connect with Dongdajie Street. One of the four roads, Shang Ren Lu Road (the Jie Fang Lu Road of today), became one of the main axes of the city from 1953 until now, forming a line from the railway station to the Da Yanta Pagoda. Eight east-west roads were built along the Shangrenlu Road, as well as some small lanes that were built in the meantime. In later years, this became the foundation of the traffic network in the east-west direction in the city. The government sold land along the streets at auction. It also built some new compounds and single-courtyard residences with the character of the traditional localstyle dwelling house near Bei Dajie Street and Bei Xin Jie Street ; these created neighborhoods such as Yi dezhuang, Sihaozhuang, Wufuzhuang, Liuguzhuang, Qixiangzhuang and Tongjifang. In order to suit the needs of traffic inside and outside the city walls, the new government removed obstacles successively from Xiao Nan Men Gate, (Wumu Gate), Zhongshan Men Gate, (today’s Xiaodongmen Gate), and Yuxiangmen Gate. All of these construction campaigns show that this was the decisive period in which the Xi’an urban form initially began to be adapted to the modern development of the city. In the period 1912-1932, the characteristic of the urban form exhibited two features : firstly, the Zhong Lou Bell Tower marked the geometrical center of the Xi’an framework, as formed by the crossing of the four main thoroughfares : Dong Da Jie Street in the east, Xi Da Jie Street in the west, Nan Da Jie Street in the south and Bei Da Jie Street in the north. Secondly, three new gates were opened in the city wall in order to adapt to the traffic requirements of the populace, making the city more open than before. This means that the functional civil requirement of the city had become an important factor in the urban form, replacing the political and the military factors as driving forces.

The second stage, from the time that Xi’an was made a vice-capital to the end of the Anti-Japan War (1932-1945) In order to prepare and build Xijing (another name for Xi’an which means the Western Capital), which was to be the vice-capital of the Kuomintang government, the construction of the city made progress and the new urban concept gradually came into being (see plate 12). The machine industry developed gradually after the building of the Long-Hai railway, which became a major east-west connection in China. Moreover, being in northwestern China, at the rear of the theater of operations during the wartime period, Shaanxi became the new industrial region. Some of the modern industries of Xi’an were initially created during this period because factories were moved to Shaanxi Province, well beyond the enemy-occupied zones. On the eve of the Anti-Japan War, before national industries had to be moved away from the war zones, Xi’an only had the Dahua Cotton Mill and two flour mills. This was the opportunity for the development of Xi’an, because many national industries were moved to Shaanxi during this period. Forty-two enterprises were moved to Shaanxi Province, representing the machine, spinning and weaving, foodstuff and chemical industries. These factories came from about fourteen different districts and cities such as Shanghai, Hankou, Wuxi, Jiujiang, Daye, Qingdao, Xuchang, Zhengzhou, Luoyang, Luohe in Henan Province, Linying, Daying, Guanyintang and Xinjiang of Shaanxi Province.[1] Objectively these relocations promoted the modern industrial development of Xi’an. As a result gradually appeared an initially industrial area to the north of the Long Hai Tie Lu railway. It was a big step for the industrial development of Xi’an.

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1. Sun Guoda, The Nation Industries Move Greatly – the Chinese Non-official Industries Moved to the Inland in Anti-Japan War, Beijing : The China literature and history publishing house, 1991, pp. 249-251.

Xi’an becomes a vice-capital city On January 28, 1932 (the 21 st year of Min Guo period), the Japanese government provoked and started a war incident in Shanghai, and threatened to attack Nanjing (capital of the Kuomintang government) and some other important towns along the Changjiang River. For reasons of safety the national government made a decision to move the handling of public affairs temporarily to Luoyang. On March 5 of that same year, the Second Meeting, with all the committee members of the 4 th Kuomintang central executive committee, took the resolution that Xi’an should be made the vice-capital and be given the

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2. The Xi’an city archives bureau and The archives in Xi’an city : Selected Archives Historical Data of the Preparing Construct of Xijing Vicecapital, Xi’an : Northwestern University publishing house, 1994, pp. 5-6.

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Xi’an’s spatial structure from 1840 to 1949

name “Xijing”. At another meeting two days later, the Min Guo government decided to create a Xijing Preparatory Committee. The main organization of the vice-capital : Xijing Preparatory Committee and Xijing Construction Committee The Xijing Preparatory Committee was directly subordinated to the Min Guo government ; its “task was to build Xijing, construct the vice-capital, as a sort of technical and design organization”.[2] There were three teams under the secretariat of the committee : a cultural relics team, a technology team and a general affairs team. In July of 1934 (the 23 rd year of the Min Guo period), the political meeting secretariat of Kuomintang central wrote to the Xijing Preparatory Committee, suggesting that Xijing should set up the administration organization of the city, and that it should be directly subordinated to the administration ministry of the Kuomintang. At the same time, the region of Xijing city was initially defined with borders extending east to the Baqiao Bridge, north to the Weihe River, west to the Fenghe River and south to the Zhonnanshan mountain. The administrative organization of Xijing was the Urban Construction Department placed under the authority of the mayor : it included the Surveying Department, the Land Department and the Engineering Department. In September 1934, the government and administration ministry approved the application by the joint organizations of the Xijing Preparatory Committee, the Shaanxi provincial government, and the Northwest Office of the National Economics Committee. They decided to establish the City Construction Committee in Xijing. The task of the committee was to carry out the city construction before Xijing city was formally founded. The Engineering Department was subordinate to the committee and responsible for surveying and mapping, roads, irrigation canals and ditches, bridges, parks, markets and the engineering planning and design of all public buildings, as well as estimating costs, inviting bids and construction, etc. The Xijing Preparatory Committee existed for about 13 years, from March 1932 to June 1945, and the City Construction Committee existed from September 1934 to 1942. The modernisation process of Xi’an city shows the influence of functional partitioning. The practice of building and planning was carried out according to theories and methods of Western industrialisation. Both

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Fig. 3. The map of Xi’an City in the Min Guo Period (1935) according to the Archives of the Min Guo. Printed by Preparing Committee for Xi’jing, August of the thirty fourth year of Min Guo (1935).

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government and unofficial opinion began to pay attention to experience from England, Germany, the United States and Japan. In short, this was an introjectional period in all aspects of the city development. The main work done by the two organizations of the vice-capital during this period During this period, the two committees completed at least three major projects. Firstly, surveying and drawing the maps of the city, investigating and compiling local chronicles of scenic spots and historic sites. Secondly, most of the mud roads in the area just outside city gates were changed to crushed stone, coal cinder or brick-dregs roads. Groundwater ditches (specifically sewers) were built in some of the major streets. The city’s infrastructure was improved. Thirdly, they carried out urban planning for Xijing with the help of the experience in urban planning of the Western world and suggestions from the population of Xi’an. It was made clear that Xijing (the name given to Xi’an during its phase as vice-capital) would serve as a successor to the four generations of ancient capitals of the Zhou, Qin, Han and Tang dynasties. The protection of the successive dynastic cultural relic historical sites was underscored. The urban planning of Xi’an included two reports by the City Construction Committee during this period : one was the Outline Master Plan of Xi’an of 1937 (the 26 th year of the Min Guo period), the second was the Xijing Urban Plan of 1941 (the 30 th year of the Min Guo period). In addition there were some special planning cases brought forward by Xi’an citizens. Up to this point, Xijing city was specifically planning areas for six functions, including an administrative area, a business quarter, an industrial zone, an agriculture experimentation area, a historic sites and civilization area, and a scenic spot area. The urban construction was overall controlled. The city form now displayed the characteristics of a modern urban space in embryonic form. During this period, the city structure tended to be ordered under the guidance of modern urban planning theory. In fact the area of Xi’an had already extended well beyond the limits of the city of the Ming and Qing dynasties�.

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Xi’an’s spatial structure from 1840 to 1949

The third stage, after the Anti-Japan War and Min Guo period (1945-1949) Under the pressure of contemporary events, Xi’an drew up a new urban concept with plans for the distribution of the roads, the partitioning and the development of the land, and the restoration of the Bell Tower, the Drum Tower and the roads around them. But, again, owing to the vicissitudes of history, these plans were not implemented (see plate 13 and 14). In March 1947 (the 36 th year of the Min Guo period), the Building Section of the Xi’an government drew up two formal reports for Xi’an’s city planning. One was the Plan Report for the Division into Districts of Xi’an and its road system, and the other was a draft of the roads and functional zones of Xi’an city. The basic principle of the planning was a sort of synthesis between the satellite-city and garden-city theories in the foundation of the city. The newer plans had taken some measures for the old city, such as widening the roads, increasing the green areas (including the parks, squares, the surface areas of the lakes), in order to suit the requirements of traffic and the requirements of the leisure life of the inhabitants. Moreover, in order to spread out the dense population of the city more evenly, a new town with garden areas was to be built outside of the city. Another measure was to build villa-type single-story houses to improve the rural area conditions and enlarge the green areas by planting trees along the rivers that led to the city, thus adjusting the climate. The layout of green areas followed the principle of balanced distribution, including the parks, roads, squares, gardens and surface areas of the lakes. In order to make the citizens have easy access, the parks and stadiums would be evenly distributed, laying out small gardens rather than grand-duke-style gardens and large sports grounds. The proportion of green spaces in the city was to be not less than 10 % ; the proportion of green spaces in the suburban districts was to be 30 %. After having compared the advantages and disadvantages for the city development and the protection of the ancient city, the planners decided to make new passages through the city walls in some places in order to suit the needs of traffic. The urban thinking was greatly influenced by the modern city planning theories and further developed during this period. But the process of industrialization was still very slow, even though the city, owing to its favo-

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rable geographical position, made it possible for modern industry to be developed to some extent in Xi’an during the postwar period. And yet the urbanization process of Xi’an was still hindered and delayed. All in all, an urban space framework in its initial stages was formed in Xi’an which retained the content of the historical features, such as the location of the government in the historical site of the princely palace of Qin Wang of the Ming Dynasty and the Man Cheng city of the Qing Dynasty, while the central crossing of the Zhonglou Bell Tower became the vinculum of the four main streets from the east, west, north and south of Xi’an. In the period from 1945 to 1949, the transformation of the properties of industrialization and urbanization in Xi’an was continued, and the motivating forces of a modern industrial society formed the basis for the urban development of the later years. All the conditions of the physical environment, the economic characteristics, and the technology of the society have changed since then.

not put into effect. Xi’an was in the throes of a major transitional period in the modernization development of the city at this particular time. Owing to its status as an alternate capital — even though it was lost afterwards — the structure of the urban form did not break through the pattern of the Qing Dynasty, and in the meantime it had to manage without a continuity in building and investment. During the period stretching from 1840 (Late Qing Dynasty) to 1949 (Min Guo period), the city developed to some extent, but it lacked sufficient motivational energy for development because of its location deep in inland China. The rate of modern industrial development was very slow. Xi’an was merely a consumer-city before 1949, with a depressed economy, and in all respects it lagged far behind the eastern areas of China, as far as the commodity economy, creation of industry, communications and transportation infrastructures, and civil education were concerned. After the outbreak of the Anti-Japan War in 1937, a great volume of funds and personal enterprises flowed into Xi’an from the enemy-occupied areas. An economy of light-industries was formed, with spinning and weaving, foodstuffs and textiles. But until 1949 the industrial output value was only 1.06 hundred million Yuan. Xi’an was economically far behind the other cities. Before the foundation of the People’s Republic of China, the mission of modernization had not been accomplished at all. Yet the foundations of the modern form and structure of Xi’an had been established — weak and imperfect though they were.

Conclusions After the Opium Wars of 1840, China became a semi-colonial, semi-feudal society. Xi’an was a city characterized by inconvenient traffic, economic depression, decadence and backward thinking, lost in the deep northwestern hinterlands of China. According to Xianning Chang’an’s “Local Chronicles of Two Counties” from 1936, the population of the two counties was only slightly more than 110,000. Between the Revolution of 1911 and 1949, the development of Xi’an city was interwoven with the successive wars, which included the struggles between the warlords, the Northern Expedition, the Agrarian Revolution and the Anti-Japan War. Xi’an suffered under the influence of the wars in the course of its development and the implementation of its urban planning. The plans of the preceding two stages, including the Outline Plan of Xi’jing (Xi’an) of 1937 (the 26 th year of the Min Guo period), and the Xijing Urban Plan of 1941 (the 30 th year of the Min Guo period) were only partly put into effect, and the plan of the third stage, which included the rebuilding plans after World War II, was

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1. The Xi’an city archives bureau and The archives in Xi’an city : Selected Archives Historical Data of the Preparing Construct of Xijing Vice-capital, Xi’an : Northwestern University publishing house, 1994. 2. The compiled committee of the local chronicles : The Local Chronicles in Xi’an City, Xi’an : The Xi’an publishing house, 1996. 3. The compiled committee of city construction system local chronicles : city construction system local chronicles in Xi’an city, Xi’an : Internal Datum of Shaanxi province, 2000. 4. Zhang Yonglu : Dictionary of Ming Qing Xi’an, The Shaanxi People’s Publishing House, 1999. 5. Zhang Qizhi : China History — The volume of Late Qing Dynasty and Min Guo period, Beijing : The higher education publishing house, 2001. 6. Gu Yanwu [Qing dynasty], The Capital Chronicles in Successive Dynasties, China Publishing House, 1984. 7. Shi Nianhai : The Historical Atlas of Xi’an, Xi’an map publishing company, 1996.

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Mapping Xi’an


Emmanuel Cerise, Bruno Fayolle Lussac, Nathalie L ancret in collaboration with Dorothée Rihal (English/Chinese/Pinyin translation and glossary)

mapping xi’an

This album of 43 plates was designed as a selected cartographic documentation in order to understand the urban forms that characterized the city of Xi’an during the considered time span (1949 to 1995) and the logic and dynamics behind the transformation of these forms. This was done within the framework of our study, against the background of the geographical context and the pre-1949 history of the city. Unlike an atlas, which would represent a spatial formatting of the analysis, we set ourselves the task of letting the cartographic representations speak for themselves, thus allowing us to understand the underlying intentions of the projects. Considering the aim of our work, the choice of these documents was informed by questions relating to evolution in terms of the form of the plans, the methods of urban extension and the modes of representation (administrative vision, representations of reality). Furthermore, the album creates a link between the different articles, which treat questions specific to the particular scales of comprehension of the city, allowing certain sites or particular sets of topics of the urban form to be addressed. The album, by way of contrast, allows us to comprehend and study the urban form as a whole, according to different relevant scales. Finally, the album makes it possible to achieve a stratified view of the urban form, as well as to follow the chronological development from 1949 to 1995 by giving elements of reflection on former periods. This album consists of four sequences: a geo-historical approach (plates 1 to 7); a sequence of urban history through representations of the city before 1949 (plates 8 to 16); comparisons of the city projects and their execution from 1949 to 1995 (plates 17 to 26); and thematic approaches (plates 27 to 43). The importance of the issue of the spatial scales presented here must also be emphasized. The Ming city, as defined by its walls, forms a fairly regular rectangle covering 11,5 km2 (east wall: 2,886 m long; west: 2,708 m; south: 4,256 m; north, 4,620 m). This was the basic form and reference of the plans since 1950. The urbanized area of the

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central city (see pl. 26) enclosed by the third ring road (71 km long) covered over 300 km2 in 1995. The inclusion of the major archaeological sites starting in 1980 confirmed the impact of this vast scale on the urban fabric. The 84 square kilometers of the Tang capital (9.21 x 8.652 km) are embedded in a large part of the territory defined by the master plan of 1980 (see plates 21 and 27). The territory covered by the Han capital (34 km2) to the northwest was three times greater than that of the Ming city. The issue of the vast scale of the plans is one of the characteristics of Xi’an’s development, as already attested by the first master plan of 1953. Since the maps presented are also meant to spatialize the subjects treated in this work, we comment on a certain number of cases and attach graphic representations that make them more legible. Indeed, in some cases, we have created explanatory plans necessary for the reading of the forms and especially for the comparison between the master and situation plans at a given moment of the urban development. In order to present an overall view at a specific date, we sometimes chose to make composite maps based on plates covering the territory of the entire urban area. For the sake of legibility, we had to improve the quality of the plates in some cases by processing the graphic data. The maps and plans presented in this album correspond mostly to documents published in Xi’an within the framework of the elaboration of different master plans. Only rarely do we rely on sources of this kind published in China (cf. Bibliography below), which are uncommon, notably because of the extreme fragmentation of the publication and diffusion system. Except for rare graphic documents published by certain authors of this work, most of these documents have never been published in Europe before.

References Aerial Survey of Xi’an. Xi’an, Xi’an mapping and printing company of ARSC, 1996 (8 plates, 1/10.000th; aerial photography: June 1995). China in Ancient and Modern Maps, London, Sotheby’s Publications, 1998. Guanyu Zhongguo Xi’an Chengshi Jingguan de Xingsheng ji Yindao de Rizhong Gongtong Yanjiu (Urban Form of the City of Xi’an, and the Associated Research of Japan and China), Association of Research of Landscapes of Kyoto, 1991. The Preservation and Construction of Ancient City Xi’an, Xi’an, Xi’an Municipal People’s Government, 1996. Shi Nianhai (ed.), Xi’an Lishi Dituji [The Historical Atlas of Xi’an], Xi’an, Cartographic Editions of Xi’an, 1996.8. Su Guohua, and Bao Feng (ed.), Xi’anshi Dituji (Atlas of Xi’an City), Xi’an, Cartographic Editions of Xi’an, 1989. 10.

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The Urban Constuction in Modern Xi’an, Xi’an, Shaanxi People’s Fine Arts Publishing House, 1988 (Chinese). Xi’anshi Chengshi Zongti Guihua (Master Plan of Xi’an City 1995-2001), Xi’an, Xi’an Bureau of Urbanism and Center of Research of Design and Urbanism, 1999.9. Xi’anshi Shi zhongxingqu Guihua (Plan for the City Centre of Xi’an), Xi’an, Xi’an Bureau of Urbanism and Protection of the Environment of Xi’an, 1989.4. Xi’anshi Zongti Guihua Tuji 1980-2000 (Atlas of the Master Plan of Xi’an City), Xi’an, Xi’an Bureau of Urbanism, 1981.8. Xu Lanzhou, Wang Xizhen, (ed.), Shaanxi Sheng Dituce [Atlas of Shaanxi Province], Xi’an, Cartographic Editions of Xi’an, 2001 Zou Zonxu (ed.), Xi’an World Ancient Chinese Capital for over a Thousand Years, Xi’an, Shaanxi People’s Fine Arts Publishing House, 1990.

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Mapping Xi’an



1.a / Administrative divisions of China Shaanxi province – Xi’an 1.b / Xi’an municipality and Shaanxi’s administrative units Ref.: Xu Lanzhou, Wang Xizhen, (ed.), Shaanxisheng Dituce, pp. 2-3.


Huang he


Shaanxi i


Xi’an ze


n Ya


Shaanxi province Province’s limit River Border line Province capital


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1000 km

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100 km

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Mapping Xi’an











100 km


Geography of Shaanxi province In the western China, Shaanxi province is bordered by seven provinces: Shanxi, Henan, Hubei (east and south east), Sichuan (south), Gansu and Ninxia autonomous province (west) and Inner Mongolia (north). Shaanxi and Shanxi provinces are separated by the Huang he River. The province includes three sub regions: Shaanbei (loess table-land) in the north, Guanzhong (Wei he valley) in the center and Shaannan in the south (Qinling mountains). The Wei he flows into the Huang he at the east. Since antiquity, this valley has been one of the main road between eastern and central China and the western territories and beyond, India, and the Middle East. Ref.: Xu Lanzhou, Wang Xizhen, (ed.), Shaanxishepng Dituce, pp. 6-7.


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100 km


3.a / Geography of Guanzhong Area The Guanzhong area was very well known in antiquity as the site of old chinese capitals from the Zhou dynasty to the Tang dynasty. It is an important region for agriculture. It is now the most important economical region of Shaanxi. The Wei he valley is the main east/west axis for the railway and road traffic systems. A secondary axis to the north connects Xi’an and the large coal-field of the Shaanbei sub-region. Xi’an is located on the southern bank of the Wei, on terraces of loess and clay at the foot of the northern slope of the Qinling mountains, between tributaries of the Wei coming down from the Qinling. Ref.: “Map of Historical remains in Guanzhong Area“, Zou Zonxu (ed)., Xi’an World Ancient Chinese Capital for over a Thousand Years, pp. 6-7.

3.b / Section of the Wei he valley Ref. : Su Guohua, Bao Feng ed., Xi’anshi Dituji, p. 63.

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1. Loess 2. C  lay (lower level, sight of loess) 3. Clay 4. Clay (2nd category) 5. Sand 6. Pebble and gravel

17. 18. 19. 10.

Sandstone Mudstone Granite Underground water courses 11. Hydromorphic soils limit 12. Hydromorphic soils

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Geographical data: The context of the city




10 km





The Xi’an municipality (shi), has been enlarged, from 1949 to 1983, extending to 9.983 km2. There is an assemblage project between the municipalities of Xi’an and Xianyang (on the north of the Wei). Such a project already existed in 1966.

The city of Xi’an, as a provincial capital (Xi’an shi Shenghui) includes 13 urban and periurban districts (qu) and rural counties (xian), corresponding to 9 districts and 4 counties in 2005.

Xi’an municipality from 1949 to 1983

Ref.: Su Guohua, Bao Feng (ed), Xi’anshi Dituji, p.124.


5.a / Municipality administrative divisions (2005)

Ref.: Su Guohua, Bao Feng (ed.), Xi’anshi Dituji, p. 13.


50 km

5.b / Xi’an city districts (qu) The urban area at the end of the 20th century is divided in 6 distritcs: 3 urban districts (Beilin, Xincheng and Lianhu meeting at the Clock Tower inside the old city, and 3 large periurban districts (Yanta, Weiyang and Baqiao). The centrality of the Bell Tower is thus reinforced at the crossing of the two axes of the city at the heart of the six urban districts. Ref.: Su Guohua, Bao Feng (ed.), Xi’anshi Dituji, p. 13.

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Plans and historical maps until 1949




5 km


Ancient capitals and the city of Xi’an, from 1134 BC to 1644 AD This map, designed for the second Master plan, at the scale of the municipality and even beyond, for the first time shows the importance of the archaeological sites for the Xi’an municipality urban policy since 1974, when the discovery of the Qin Shihuang terracotta army was revealed. In 1980, the cultural heritage was considered an important stake for the cultural tourism economic development. Ref.: Xi’anshi Zongti Guihua tuji 1980-2000, plate 1.

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Mapping Xi’an


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7.a / Map of Tang Chang’an (Song dynasty, 1080): Fragment of the stele Reproduction of fragments from a Sui Tang, Chang’an map. This original map was designed on a stele in 1080 under the Northern Song (960-1127) by Zhang You and can be seen in the Xi’an Beilin museum. The fragments of this stele show the most ancient known representation of the capital. This fragment has been set in a reconstitution of the city plan, in which it primarily affects the structure of the blocks. Ref.: China in Ancient and Modern Maps, pp. 42-45.

Plans and historical maps until 1949



1 km

7.b / Reconstitution of the city grid pattern showing the location of the extant fragments


7.c / The blocks network: reconstituted from several fragments This reconstitution from the extant fragments shows the permanence of the orthogonal grid pattern on two scales: those of the city and of the blocks. Here the block, represented in red, is enclosed by a wall and framed by the four gates and the two main streets, dividing the space into four sectors. Ref.: “General Plan of Chang’an Tang Dynasty”, from: Boyd, Andrew, Architecture and Town Planning 1.500 B.C. – A.D. 1911, London, 1962, fig. 34. 0

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Mapping Xi’an



8.a / Xi’an map (16th century) under the Ming dynasty This map shows the principle of the plan: a squarred city closed by a rampart oriented by four gates dividing the inner space in four sections, with the main official buildings. This representation illustrates one of the features of Chinese cartography at the time: elements symbolizing the city and the relationship to the ancient model of the regular city (plate 8.b). Notice that the governor’s palace is located in the NE quarter of the city. The eastern suburb is protected by a wall. It shows the importance of the traffic between Xi’an and the heartland of China. Source: Jia jing Shaanxi Tong Zhi, volume 7, published during the reign of emperor JiaJing (1522-1566).

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Plans and historical maps until 1949



1 km

8.b / Restitution of the Ming city’s map in 1611 This map published in 1996 in the Historical Atlas of Xi’an, with regard to the third master plan, is an interpretation from historical data and maps of the localization of streets and some institutions inside the Ming city (see here above the Wu Hongqi and Shi Hongsha paper). From this time, we know the dimensions of the city (4,260 km x 2,800 km) and its surface: approximatively 11,5 km2, due to the more or less regular layout of the rampart. This is an interpretation of the city’s architecture based on old maps and written sources. Re-drawn against the background of a contemporary map, it includes the material elements attested in archaeological and historical sources: the trace of the city walls and moat, the position of the four gates and the two main N-S and E-W axes.

Yuan city

The Bell Tower, reconstructed in 1582 at the crossing of the two main arteries, and the Drum Tower are shown at their present locations. The network of the streets structures the city into four unequal sectors. Indeed, the two main roads were traced off the median axes of the rectangular scheme, probably due to the significance of the NE quarter—site of the palace—in the construction of the city.

Ming city


Ref.: Shi Nianhai ed., Xi’an Lishi Dituji…, pp. 118-121.

8.c / Site of the Ming city with regard to the location of the former Tang and Yuan cities Tang city grid 0

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Plan of the city in 1668 This map is entitled “Huichengtu”, as can be read on the right hand side. On the upper part is written “Jiajing wunian xunfu wanggai jianlou”: The provincial governor Wang Gai constructed the building in the 5th year of the reign of Jiajing of the Ming dynasty (1537). The second sentence says “Longqing ernian xunfu Zhang Zhi zhou zhuan”: The provincial governor Zhang Zhi laid bricks in the second year of the reign of Longqing of the Ming dynasty (1568). Indeed, Zhang Zhi changed the earth city wall from the Tang dynasty, by laying bricks on both sides.

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Mapping Xi’an

On the left hand side can be read: “Ji Sui Tang jingcheng, Song Jin Yuan jie yin zhi, Ming chu dudu puying zengxiu zhou sishi li, gao san zhang, chi sheng er zhang, kuo ba chi”: This was the capital city of the Sui and Tang dynasties and the construction of the city during the Song, Jin and Yuan dynasties was on that basis. At the beginning of the Ming dynasty the governor Puying expanded the city (wall) to a perimeter of 40 li (about 20 km). Its height was 3 zhang (about 10 m) while the moat was 2 zhang deep (about 6.6 m) and 8 chi wide (about 2.6 m). The city is organized along two main roads which end in four main gates  : west gate (Xi’Anding men), east gate

(Dong Changle men), north gate (Bei’An yuan men) and south gate (Nan Yongning men). The city is divided into two different administrative parts: the western part (Chang’an xian) and the east one (Xianning xian). The military training field is indicated outside of the city jiaochang,). In the center of the map, the main building (Wenchang ge) does not appear in any other maps or historical sources. But the location seems to be exactly that of the Bell Tower after 1582. On the north-west corner of the city, the Manchu city (Mancheng) is clearly indicated, which seems to prove that the map was drawn in the Qing dynasty, since the Manchu city was built in 1645 just after their rise to power. But the drawing of the Bell Tower (zhonglou) on

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the northeast of the Drum Tower (gulou) would lead us to assume that this map represents a much earlier version. This is because according to historical documents the Bell Tower moved from that location in 1582. We do not know when and for what purpose this map was drafted, but it appears that it represents different periods of the city simultaneously. Ref.: Zhao Liying, Shaanxi Gu Jianzhu (Shaanxi Ancient Architecture), Xi’an, People Editions of Shaanxi, p. 139. Source: Xianning xian zhi, local chronicle of Xianning county, published in 1668, at the beginning of Qing dynasty, under the reign of Kangxi Emperor (1662-1722). Translation from the Chinese and notes: Dorothée Rihal

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Plans and historical maps until 1949


Plan of the city in 1735 This map is also entitled “Huichengtu”. As in plate 9, the wall is drawn with the four gates, but the roads are not mentioned. The inner walls then appear very clearly. The smallest one in the northeast corner is the old prefecture of Qin (fei Qinfu jiucheng) which was built in the 1370s and was then called qingwangfucheng. That is the location where the Manchu established their quarters. They then built a new wall around it in 1645, thus forming an enlarged inner city. The two parts of the new inner walls were to meet at the Bell Tower. The South city (Nancheng) was then built in 1683 (and destroyed in 1780) and also appears on the map.


Surprisingly, as with the preceding plate, the Bell Tower is mentioned in the same pre-1582 location. The appearance of Nancheng on the same map seems contradictory. Important administrative offices such as the governor’s office (zongdu shu) are located on the right side of the map. The educational area, which includes Chang an xue(Chang’an School), fuxue (provincial School), wenmiao (Confucius temple) and Xianning xue (xian ning School), is in the southeastern corner of the map. Source: Local Chorography of Shaanxi province published in 1735, under the reign of Yongzheng Emperor (1723-1735) Translation from the Chinese and notes: Dorothée Rihal

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Mapping Xi’an



Map of the city in 1893, at the end of the Qing dynasty The Shaan Xi Sheng Cheng Tu selected in this atlas was surveyed and drawn in the 19th year (1893) of Guangxu's reign (…) by the Maps Bureau. The Bureau for Book on Institutions and Laws was set up in Beijing in the 12th year of Guangxu's reign. For the compilation of Da Qing Hui Dian Tu (Maps for Book on Institutions and Laws of the Great Qing Empire), the Bureau notified for the first time the different provinces in the 15th year of Guangxu's reign to each submit to it within a year a map with their prefectures and counties. Consequently, Maps Offices or Maps Houses were set up one after another in most of the provinces, and provincial, prefectural and county maps came to be made with the use of a new mapping method as stipulated.

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Established in the 16th year of Guangxu's reign, the Maps Office of Shaanxi Province printed and published Ce Hui Qian Shuo (An Elementary Introduction to Cartography), defined the method of mapping, and set out to compile and draw Shaan Xi Quan Sheng Yu Di Tu (Terrestrial Maps of the Entire Shaanxi Province). This map is just one of the achievements surveyed and drawn then according to the new method, and since it was not taken in Hui Dian Yu Tu (Terrestrail Maps for Book on Institutions and Laws), it was not included in the Shaan Xi Quan Sheng Yu Di Tu lithographed in 1899. It was only subjected to separate printing and publication, and few copies of it have been left. Prior to this, the maps of Xi’an City based on actual survey had been done using the old method, such as the Map of Xi’an City “of the 10th year of Xianfeng's reign (1860) attached to Historical Ruins of Chang’an” of a Japanese scholar which is 33 years earlier than Shaan Xi Sheng


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Cheng Tu and larger in size. A comparison between the latter map with those of earlier dates will be beneficial to acquiring an understanding of the development and changes of Xi’an City. Ref.: Cao Wanru, Zheng Xihuang, Huang Shengzhang et alii (ed.), An Atlas of Ancient Maps in China, The Qing Dynasty (16441911), Beijing, Cultural Relics Publishing House, 1987. Source: This Xi’an city map in Qing Dynasty was drawn in the 19th year (1893) of Guangxu's reign by the Maps Bureau, No. 201: “The map of the Provincial Capital of Shaanxi Province” (Shaan Xi Sheng Cheng Tu, 58 cm x 98.7 cm) 202. Part of the Map (Central Part fo the City) Translation from the Chinese and notes: Shi Hongshuai

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Plans and historical maps until 1949




12.a / Xi’an in 1933 In the northeast of the city, the new urban grid pattern in the deserted Manchu district of 1911 (like the deserted southeast district) prefigures the redevelopment of this area, due to the site of the future railway station in the north (1935). The NW corner has also been abandoned. The main East-West trade route still continues into the suburbs through the gates.

12.b / Xi’an in 1933 and urban sprawl in 2002 In 1933, the urban development is restrained inside the city rampart and suburban walls. In 2002, the urban sprawl overpasses the third ring road layout, but the historical city always is the provincial metropolis center.


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1933 2002 Third ring road 0


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Ref.: Shi Nianhai (ed.), Xi’an Lishi Dituji, (Assemblage of two maps), pp. 134-137.

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Mapping Xi’an



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Map of Xi’an in 1949 (1) The plan shows the density of the urban fabric inside the ramparts, except in the northwest and southwest corners. Unfortunately, the map does not show the extension of the urban area outside the ramparts. Ref.: Shi Nianhai (ed.), Xi’an Lishi Dituji, (Assemblage of two maps), pp. 138-139.

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Plans and historical maps until 1949




Map of Xi’an in 1949 (2) This plan seems to be the matrix of the first master plan. The original map mentions the street names; they are not represented here in order to improve the design of the urban network inside the city wall. This map involves only the intramuros city. As far as the intramuros street system is concerned, it seems to be the most reliable map, especially when compared with

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the satellite data from 1995 (see plate 33). It confirms the resistance of the organizational logic and elementary structures of the historic city: directionality and orthogonality, walls and gates, crossing of the two axes at the Bell Tower (central place), site of the governor’s palace, and the Drum Tower. This map reveals the organic nature of the secondary and tertiary street system across the city, except for the housing development on the former site of


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the Manchu quarter. No strict regularity can be observed in the other sectors, as the reconstituted historical maps tend to confirm. This gridwork defines several groups of blocks of variable size and shape, showing in some cases the internal network of lanes and alleys. Ref.: Xi’anshi Shi zhongxingqu Guihua, p. 9.

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Mapping Xi’an







15.a / Aerial view from the west Ref.: Schinz Alfred, Cities in China, Berlin and Stuutgart, Gebrüder Borbtraeger, 1989, p. 139 (Fig. 98): “Aerial view from trhe west. Below the west gate with barbacan, in tne center, the Bell-tower and in the rear, the empty areas of the completely destroyed (1911) Manchu district.”

15.b / The urban grid, from the 1930s to 1949: confrontation between aerial view and the map of Xi’an in 1949 (plate 14)


This confrontation between the aerial view of 1936 and the city plan of 1949 shows one of the main characteristics of a traditional Chinese city: a lower city of courtyards houses. The aerial view, taken from the west shows the main east-west axis of the city and the west city gate and rampart’s monumental strength at the scale of the city’ space. Another point of interest is to show the correspondence of the street network between the aerial view and the map.

15.c / The gates and the rampart

15.d / The southeast corner of the city in 1938. View from the city wall “The walls of Sian in 1938. In the foreground, one of the ramps giving access to the ramparts. As in many other cities, shrinkage of population had given place for much agricultural land within the walls”. (Joseph Needham’s commentary of Bishop, fig. 6). Ref.: Needham Joseph, Science and Civilisation in China, Volume IV, tome 3 (Civil Engineering and Nautics), 1971 plate CCLXXXVIII, Fig. 727 (from: Bishop Carl Whiting, “An Ancient Capital”, Antiquity, XII, 1938, pp.68-78).

Ref.: Jia Pingao, Old Xi’an Evening of an Imperial City, Beijing, Foreign Languages Press, 2001, p. 13.

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Plans and historical maps until 1949

Daming palace (Tang)


Xi'An in 1960

Chang’An (Han) - moat

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Yuan city

Qing city in 1949

Tang city grid

Tang capital south/north axis


Modern city axis

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Outline of the urban area extents from the Tang dynasty to 1960 The layouts of the Tang capital under the successive Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties show that the scale of the archaeological site of Chang’an (84 m2) largely surpasses the urban area of the 1960s. This diagram also shows the extent of the archaeological zone on the scale of the contemporary agglomeration, especially concerning the old city, built on the site of the administrative capital of the Tang.

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Mapping Xi’an



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Master plans and phases of urban development


410 405







425 430 435 440 445 450

440 445 450 455

455 460


17.c 410





425 430 435 440 445 450

440 445 450 455

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17.a / Master Plan (1953-1972) This first master plan was designed in Beijing by Chinese urban planners under the control of Soviet urban planners. Taking the old city and the rampart as a matrix, the new regular grid pattern has become the undisputed reference for the next master plans until to the end of the 20th century. This disposition informs the orientation and regularity of the master plan’s composition. The foothills of the Qinling Range in the southeast induced an inflection of the grid. For the sake of symmetry this inflection was repeated in the southwest and created an axial composition. These inflections are one of the unique features of the first master plan. A major artery underscores this inflection of the plan. It is punctuated by secondary squares at major intersections of the street system. In the Ming city a square and two transverse axes underscore the centering function of the historic city. The sectors devoted to housing, associated facilities and schools frame the historic city to the east, south, west and north beyond the railway. Industrial zones are planned at the periphery and isolated by belts of woodland. Green spaces are spread throughout the quarters. Ref.: The Preservation and construction of Ancient City Xi’an, Xi’an Municipal People’s Government, 1996, p. 11.

17.b / Contour lines surimposed on the Tang Chang'an grid pattern 17.c / Contour lines surimposed on the master plan 17.a

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Mapping Xi’an


Urban extension from the 1930s to the 1980s Ref.: Xi’anshi Dituji, p. 194.


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Mapping Xi’an




19.a / Topographic plan of Xi’an in 1974 This plan is an assemblage of the four original sheets (scale: 1/10.000th). The caption mentions the military targets, in the context of the increase of the tension between the URSS and the PCC, in 1969. It is the most precise map we can find, showing the extent of the urban area on the agricultural lands around Xi’an.



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19.b / Outline of the superimposed extents: plan of 1974 / first master plan (1953) This diagram shows the impact of the pattern of the 1953 plan on urban development in the west, the east and especially along the great sourthern axis, as well as its extension to the north, near the railway, both to the east and west (industrial plants).

Ref.: Military Topographic Directorate of the general staff, 1974. (Projection: Gauss-Kruger / Pulkovo 1942 / Krassovsky: 1/10.000°, 4 sheets. Diffusion: International Shipping Department, East View Cartographic, inc. Minneapolis, USA.) 19.a

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Master plans and phases of urban development



City plan of Xi’an in 1980 This map, established within the framework of the Master plan of 1980, indicates the distribution of the different kinds of functions already in place in the street system. In the south, it underscores the de facto juxtaposition of housing and industry, as well as the development of educational establishments. The main public buildings are represented on each of the parcels. The filling-in of the pattern, especially at the periphery, seems to have occurred as needed and along the main axes. The distribution of the sectors of activity highlights the structural impact of the railways at the time. Ref.: Xi’anshi Zongti GuihuaTuji 1980-200O, plate 2.

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Mapping Xi’an


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21.a / Master Plan 1980-2000



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This map was part of the first master plan, but anticipates zones of extension in the north and northwest beyond the limits defined in 1953. Similarly the southeastern and southwestern sectors have been reconfigured according to a stricter pattern. While the north-south axis remains accentuated, the transversal east-west axis has been shifted south of the wall to link up with the third ring road. The trace of the second ring road has been confirmed. In order to avoid isolating the historic city, the intramuros street system was connected to that of the outlying areas by cutting through the wall. The zoning rectifies or cancels certain dispositions of the previous plan, such as the projects for large-scale public spaces. It integrates the facts of the actual state, such as the juxtapositions in the southern quarters (housing, industry, schools, research). The industrial zones are less concentrated in the east and west. The interruption caused by the railways isolates the northern quarters. The archaeological sites are protected by green spaces, and green belts separate the industrial zones from residential areas. This plan already raises the issue of the potential extension of the grid. It is contained here by the planned third ring road, which in principle already implies other modes of urban development. Its trace contains the city proper, but without adhering to the geometry of the grid. It is connected to the regional and national high-speed road system. Ref. : Xi’anshi Zongti Guihua tuji 1980-2000, plate 3.

21.b / Outline of the extents of Xi’an: in 1974 and from the master plan.

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Mapping Xi’an


Urban area around 1989 This plate is an assemblage of the 16 original sheets of the book cited. We can observe the expansion of the urban area to the south, beyond the second ring road, and the densification of the fabric of the grid. It is interesting to compare it to the plan of 1974 (pl. 19.a), for we can see two fairly realistic representations of the ground-use and the urban sprawl, even though the codes of representation are not the same. In the southeast, we can clearly see the relief of the Qinling Range that had already affected the shape of the Master plan of 1953. This plan shows the general growth in the size of the buildings across the grid already defined in 1953, especially the densification of the fabric on the outskirts (buildings higher than two stories). Low buildings dominate the historic city and the old eastern and western suburbs. The main commercial arteries of the agglomeration are still largely intramuros. Ref.: Su Guohua, Bao Feng (ed), Xi’anshi Dituji, pp. 16-31

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Master plans and phases of urban development


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Mapping Xi’an






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23.a / Situation of the central urban districts in 1995 Ref.: Xi’anshi Chengshi Zongti Guihua, pp. 47-48.

23.b / Main road and street network of the Master Plan of 1980 This municipal document (pl. 23.a) drawn in connection with the third Master plan is a representation of the extant state according to the grid-pattern elaborated in first master plan in 1953 (plate 19). Development in the south of the agglomeration always followed the lines established in 1953 (north-south axis, diagonals, urban expansion to the east and west). The goal of filling in the grid as expressed by the 1980 Master plan is not visible, even if the occupied areas beyond the actual agglomeration fit into the grid system. In the north there is the beginning of an extension along the north-south axis of the agglomeration. Concentrations of business companies are always located along the railway in the north and in connection with the railways in the east and west. To the south and east, we can see the relative importance of the establishment of schools, universities and scientific research centers. The centrality of the historic city stands out in this drawing of the plan; especially clear is the importance of the main street system, which is always linked to the openings in the city walls. The street system in the 1980 Master Plan (pl. 23.b) confirms the validity of the choices adopted concerning the principles, scale and main pattern of the master plans of 1953 and 1980. Urban expansion often occurred discontinuously, but always along the major axes and within the framework set by the pattern.

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Mapping Xi’an




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Urban area in 1995 (assemblage) This survey shows the importance of high-tech zones in the urbanized area: Xi’an High-Tech Industrial Development Zone for (XHTDZ) in the south, Xi’an Economic and Technological Zone (XETDZ), in the north. The location and vast scale of these two high-tech zones approved by the State (outlined in white) go beyond the administrative limits (districts). These zones constitute large-scale enclaves and benefit from a special status intended to attract foreign companies. In particular, they include previously industrialized zones (XETDZ, in the north) and zones with an established potential for research and higher education (XHTDZ, in the south). This location decision implies another vision of the space to be urbanized: that of a large-scale metropolis taking over the territory on the northern banks of the Wei River, beyond the limits of the previous master plans, especially to the south and north. Ref.: Aerial Survey of Xi’an (assemblage of 8 maps), 1995.

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Master plans and phases of urban development


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Mapping Xi’an

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Master plans and phases of urban development







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25.a / Master plan 1995-2020: urban area and satellite towns. The third master plan shows the change of the scale. First the urbanized areas concerned by the plan overpass the limits of the central modern city 6 urban and periurban districts. The new master plan is featured by a radioconcentric figure defined by a large road network connecting the central city, the satellite cities and the new areas of the urban sprawl, owing to the third ring road. In 1995 the master plan expressed the will to program this international metropolis on a grand scale with reference to a new model of town planning. It shows the limits of a plan that corresponds to the Soviet model of the grid pattern from the 1950s. The map also shows the importance of the corridor for development along the Wei Valley, which should be seen within the context of the great national program to create a major route connecting coastal China and the North Sea (the new «Silk Road») at the beginning of the 1990s.


25.b / Yanliang master plan


The master plan of this district capital located 70 km to the northeast of Xi’an has been included to show the importance of the industrial sector, especially in the field of aeronautics. Ref. : Xi’anshi Chengshi Zongti Guihua, pp. 55-56.

25.c / The district of Liangyang in the Municipality

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Master plans and phases of urban development


26.b 1950 1980 1995



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26.a / Master plan of the Central city The scale of this map showing a compact city within the third ring road permits a more detailed view of the zoning and shows some alternatives to the previous plan (pl. 25), especially in the north and northwest. It is in line with the principles of the previous master plans, but demonstrates a will to put limits on this then-saturated model of urban development. Ref.: Xi’anshi Chengshi Zongti Guihua, pp. 47-48


26.b / The Ming city urban area compared to the master plans areas (1953, 1980, 1995) The superimposition of the limits of the three previous master plans shows that the limits of the 1953 Master plan were overstepped only in 1980, mostly in the north and northwest, then in the south, west and east in 1995. The large-scale view of 1953 proved to be effective in the course of the following forty years. This vision of the socialist city happened to be in keeping with the traditional concept of the oriented and squared Chinese city.

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Mapping Xi’an



Protection plan of the Xi’an city cultural heritage (1980) The official recognition of the cultural heritage was amplified owing to the 1974 discovery of the Terracotta Army and the touristic development that followed it. Located 30 km east of Xi’an (not on the map), it legitimized the weight given to the cultural heritage in the master plan for Xi’an, all the more as the Ming city was classified in the first list of historical cities under protection in 1982. By officially integrating the issue of cultural heritage, this first protection plan indicated a step forward in official town planning and its specific applications, as in the highlighting of the city walls of the Tang capital. The sites and monuments indicated on this plan are featured not only on national but also on provincial and municipal lists. The protection of the cultural heritage is one of the thematic plans that accompanied the master plan approved by the State. It takes three territorial scales into account: that of the municipality—represented here to the west by the archaeological zones of Feng and Hao (Western Zhou) in Chang’an County—, that of the Xi’an agglomeration and that of the detailed plan for the protection of the Ming city (cf. pl. 31). This plan indicates the contents and limits of the protected territories and the rules of protection. The latter were adapted to two major typologies of sites. The great archaeological zones are closed to construction (only agricultural use) and the adjacent areas are sometimes also protected (Han Chang’an). The monuments are protected by a system of concentric zones of various statuses.



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Réf. Xi’anshi Zongti Guihua tuji 1980-2000, plate 6.

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Thematic approaches: cultural heritage, green spaces, networks


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Thematic approaches: cultural heritage, green spaces, networks





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28.a / Central city protection plan (1995) The major archaeological zones are inscribed within orthogonal geometric figures oriented in the same direction as the overall layout of the plan. This shows the resistance of the gridded plan since 1953 and its adaptation to the new scale of the territory under planning. The principle of setting the zones to be protected in regular shapes anticipates their inclusion in the urbanized area, all the while preserving their territorial integrity. The plan foresees several modes of managing the protection of the cultural heritage: protection zones of individual monuments enclosed by constructions of limited height and protection zones for major archaeological sites in the process of being integrated. The Ming city was featured on a detailed plan (cf. pl. 32).

28.b / Outline of visual corridors


The visual corridors connect the monuments as markers of the city’s identity (its “stylistic physiognomy”): the Dayanta Pagoda (Tang), the Qinlong Temple (Tang, classified in 1996), the East and South gates of the city wall (Ming) with the Bell Tower, and the central monument (Ming). This conspicuous connection expresses a will to create an ordered urban perspective. Ref : The Preservation and Construction of Ancient City Xi’an, p. 16.

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Mapping Xi’an


The walled city around 1989 (reconstitution) Ref.: Su Guohua, Bao Feng ed., Xianshi Dituji, (Montage of maps, pp. 18-19, 22-23).


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Protection plan for the Ming city. (Master Plan of 1980) Ref.: Xi’anshi Zongti Guihua tuji 1980-2000, plate 6. 0

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Mapping Xi’an


31.a / Protection plan, 1983 Ref.: Xi’anshi Shizhongxingqu Guihua, plate 6.

31.b / Protection plan, 1986 Ref.: Xi’anshi Shizhongxingqu Guihua, plate 7.

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The planning chart of the building height zones in the Ming city (Master plan, 1995) The four plans for the protection of the Ming city from 1980 (pl. 30, above) to 1995 correspond to four stages in the strategy for the protection and enhancement of the historical heritage. In 1980 the plan limiting the height of buildings underscored the importance of the city wall and protected the surroundings of the historical monuments. In 1983 (pl. 31.a) the plan for protection and enhancement took the development of tourism (pedestrian streets, protected housing districts) and the economy (Bell Tower, commercial arteries) into consideration.

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Thematic approaches: cultural heritage, green spaces, networks

This plan called for an itinerary starting at the Great Mosque in the west, passing the Drum Tower, and going to the south wall and the Museum of the Steles (Beilin). In 1986 (pl. 31.b) the plan adapted the principle of restricting building heights to the actual density of construction and expanded the zone of development in the center to either side of the Bell Tower. In 1995, the plan simplified the protective measures and permitted the vertical densification of the central zone of development (36 m).




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Ref.: The Preservation and construction of Ancient City Xi’an, p. 20.

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Walled city in 1995 Ref.: Aerial Survey of Xi’an (details of plate 24)

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Thematic approaches: cultural heritage, green spaces, networks



34.a / Bell Tower and South gate

34.b / Southern outskirts (southwest)

In 1995 the program for enhancement and traffic at the south gate was underway. The south-north artery of the historic city was expanded between the south and north gates to the width of the modern arteries in the agglomeration. The central square between the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower within the historic city was under construction. Only the traditional area around the Museum of the Steles (east of the gate) was preserved. In the modern city to the south of the gate, rows of buildings have almost completely eradicated the blocks of traditional houses.

This view of the high-tech zone (XHDTZ, see pl. 24) shows the opposition between the mode of construction of the modern city within the blocks in the grid (rows of buildings) and the structure of the villages and rural territory that is being encircled. The conquest of the territory was organized in accordance with the main street and roadway system decided in the master plans since 1953; hence the uncertainty resulting from secondary internal roads that were often of rural origin. The survival of the encircled rural territory is provisional, in particular due to the planned development of the XHTDZ.

Ref.: Aerial Survey of Xi’an (assemblage of 8 maps), 1995.

Ref.: id.

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Archeological site

Greening 0


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35.a / The parks and gardens system from before 1949 to 2002

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Thematic approaches: cultural heritage, green spaces, networks


35.b / The different images of the parks and gardens in the periods mentioned

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36.a / Plan of urban green space development (1989) The green spaces integrate certain public functions within the urban fabric, especially the great archaeological sites. Protective forest belts frame the major road network (expressways, ring roads). To the east, the valley of the Chan-he has been conceived as a vast green buffer zone between the city and the Banpo quarter isolated on the right bank.



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Ref.: Su Guohua, Bao Feng ed., Xi’anshi Dituji, p. 203.

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36.b / Plan of the city green spaces, parks and forests system: Master plan of 1995 The innovative feature of the plan of 1995 was the protective ecological belt on the scale of Greater Xi’an. This measure addressed the environmental concerns that were officially decreed on December 12, 1989. Ref.: Xi’anshi Chengshi Zongti Guihua, pp. 183-184.

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Traffic network of the urban area in 1989 In 1989, non-motorized transportation still played an important part in the road system. Car traffic in the historic city is structured by the openings in the wall that connected the internal and external road systems. The heaviest motor vehicle traffic was on the east-west axis (along the Wei River valley), crossing the historic city in the north. Ref. : Su Guohua, Ba Feng ed., Xi’anshi Dituji, p. 171.

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Thematic approaches: cultural heritage, green spaces, networks



Traffic network of the urban area in 1989 Despite the effectiveness of the orthogonal system defined in 1953, the hierarchy of the streets and roads is now determined by automobile traffic. The project bypasses the Ming city (the city has no Level 1 roads). These Level 1 roads organize the network of the three ring roads connected to the through-streets integrated into the plan. This plan shows the consequences of the 1953 decision to make the city of the Ming the matrix for the master plan, generating the orthogonality of the territory under planning.

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5 km

The trace of the third ring road reveals a change in the plan culture in the 80s. It anticipates the changes in the forms of transportation (development of the automobile) and shows the economical importance of the provincial capital in the Wei Valley. Ref. : id. p. 202.

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Mapping Xi’an


Traffic system of the urban area in 1995. The territorial extension of 1995 went well beyond the limits of the previous master plans, due to the ongoing construction of major arteries and their connection to the local road system. The construction of the third ring road, particularly in the south and west, demonstrated the change of scale in the urban expansion, made possible by the development of automobile traffic and truck transport—now dominant. Ref.: Xi’anshi Chengshi Zongti Guihua, pp. 101-102.

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10 km


Traffic network project, Master Plan of 1995 (sections and typology) The third ring road (100 m wide) connects the satellite cities and these with the city center, especially along the axis of the Wei Valley. The road system comprising the first belt, between the historic city and the second ring road (80 m wide), is as dense as in the historic city and still under construction. The urban expansion has become denser between the second and third ring roads, especially in the south and to the west, prolonging the first belt. Lastly, the principle of the grid plan of 1953 remains the structural principle of the road system within the third ring road. Ref.: Xi’anshi Chengshi Zongti Guihua, pp. 103-104.

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Transportation network of the municipality in 1989

Mapping Xi’an



50 km

Ref.: Su Guohua, Bao Feng ed., Xi’anshi Dituji, p. 167.

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Thematic approaches: cultural heritage, green spaces, networks




Lantian Zhouzhi

Chang'an Huxian



50 km



42.a / Xi’an urban transport project (2000): at the scale of the municipality 42.b / Xi’an urban transport project (2000): Third ring road These three maps show the process of the metropolization of Xi’an seen on the scale of the municipality from the late 1980s (pl. 41). This process has intensified since the 1990s (pl. 42.a), particularly within the framework of the development program of the western regions (2000) and the new “Silk Road”. In this context, the third ring road (pl. 42.b) allows the agglomeration to be bypassed, while connecting the provincial capital to the highway system of the Chinese interior toward the Xinjiang. Ref.: Report and Recommendation of the President to the Boards of Directors on a Proposed Loan to the People’s Republic of China for the Xi’an Urban Transport Project, Asian Development Bank, November 2003, p. 7. 42.b

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Mapping Xi’an





Xi’an in 2004 The metropolis of the 21st century has changed scales by going beyond the limits of the third ring road in some places. The development of the northern sectors toward the Wei River in recent years has repositioned the historic city at the actual center of the modern agglomeration. Expressways in the north-south direction are planned in the west to connect the XHTDZ in the southwest to the Xianyang airport highway (30 km north of the Wei River), in the east in the Valley of the Chan (north-south direction), and to the north of the historic city (east-west direction) to connect with the highway system.

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5 km



5 km



50 km

(Cartographic Edition of Xi’an), 2004.1

This complexification of the high-speed road system involves moving public and private facilities to the edge of the third ring road, such as the Central Business District (CBD) in the southwest sector (XHTDZ) or certain services attached to the municipality. As a result the historic city’s central political, economical and commercial role is being called into question, while its attractiveness from the standpoint of cultural tourism has been enhanced, in accordance with the last master plan of 2004. Ref.: Xi’anshi qu xiang tu (Detailed plan of Xi’an),

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Dorothée Rihal


Dorothée Rihal

Glossary Captions of the following plates : 5, 6, 17, 18, 20, 21 a, 22, 23 a, 24, 25 a, 26 a, 27, 28 a, 29, 30, 31 a-b, 32, 36 a-b, 37, 38, 39, 40, 43.

XIAN-articles.2.indd 129




no. plate

administration office land use


xingzheng bangong yongdi

26 a



hangkong xian



飞机场 机场

feijichang jichang

17a, 20 38

ancient architecture (old building)



21 a

ancient architecture ruins


gujianzhu yizhi

21 a

ancient city wall (old wall)




ancient pond site


guchi yizhi


ancient river and pond site


hechi yizhi


ancient river course


gudai hedao


ancient ruins



28 a

ancient ruins 古遗址保护区 guyizhi baohuqu protection area

25 a, 27, 28 a, 43

ancient site high protection area

古文物绝对保护区 guwenwu juedui baohu qu


architectural style area


jianzhu fengge qu

28 a

attraction park


youyi gongyuan

36 a

botanic garden



36 a

bridge (overpass)




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XIAN-articles.2.indd 130


building of outstanding high level

高层, 突出建筑

gaoceng, tuchu jianzhu

22, 29

burn land




cemetery and crematorium


gongmu huozhangchang


central district extent


zhongxinqu fanwei

31 a-b

city and county government seat

市,县人民政府驻地 shi, xian renmin zhengfu zhudi

city center and district center


shi zhongxin ji qu zhongxin


city level commerce


shiji shangye

31 b

city wall



17a, 26 a, 28 a

city wall cultural relic


chengqiang wenwu


city wall, gate, gate tower

城墙, 城门,城楼

chengqiang, chengmen, chenglou

22, 29

city wall moat



31 a




21 a

commercial street


shangye jie

22, 29

construction site




countryside road


xian xiang lu





county and district limit


xian qu jie

22, 29


cultural and historical site 文物古迹 wenwuguji (heritage site)

6, 20, 23 a, 25 a

cultural and leisure park


wenhua xiuxi gongyuan

36 a

cultural relics (heritage site)



31 b

cultural relics high protection area 文物绝对保护区

wenwu juedui baohuqu


cultural relics protection area


wenwu baohuqu

31 a

culture and education, scientific research land use


wenjiao keyan yongdi

23 a, 25 a, 26 a

dirt road







district-level commerce


quji shangye

31 a

ecological protection belt


shengtai baohudai

25 a, 36 b

economic-technological development zone


jingji jishu kaifa qu


elevated express way


gaojia kuaisu lu

25 a

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Dorothée Rihal

XIAN-articles.2.indd 131


elevated express main road


gaojiaqiao kuaisu gandao


existing overpass


xianzhuang lijiaowei


extent of the ruins of the Tang Chang’an city

唐长安城遗址范围 tang chang’an cheng yizhi fanwei

external road network


duiwai jiaotong

25 a, 28 a

farmer’s market


nonghuo shichang


farming and forestry intercropping area


nong lin jian zuo qu

36 a




17a, 24





forest belt, protection belt

林带, 防护带

lindai, fanghu dai

36 a

forest protection belt


fanghu lindai


green protection belt


fanghu lüdai

25 a, 26 a, 28 a




31 a-b

greening space, greening belt

绿地, 绿化带

ludi, luhuadai

22, 29

greening land use


lühua yongdi

17a, 21 a

harmonizing area


xietiao qu


harmonizing surroundings area


huanjing xietiaoqu


high level road


gaodengji gonglu


high-tech development zone


gao xin jishu kaifa qu


highway, main road

高速公路, 主干道路

gaosu gonglu, zhugan daolu


historical ruins park


lishi yizhi gongyuan

36 a

historical site (heritage site)




hospital land use


yiyuan yongdi

21 a

housing protection area


minju baohuqu

31 a

imperial tomb


diwang lingmu


important edifice inside the city


chengnei zhuyao jianzhu


important main road


zhuyao gandao


important main street


zhuyao daolu


important road


zhuyao gonglu


important temple inside the city


chengnei zhuyao siyuan


28 a

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industrial area and factory


gongyequ ji, gongchang


industrial land use


gongye yongdi 20, 21 a, 23 a, 25 a, 26 a

influencing area


yingxiang qu

30, 31 a

influencing surroundings area


huanjing yingxiang qu


irrigation ditch 1. main canal 2. branch canal

渠道 1. 干渠 2. 支渠

qudao 1. ganqu 2. zhiqu

22, 29

large public building


daxing gonggong jianzhu


large public building


zhuyao gonggong jianzhu

21 a

level 1 road


yiji daolu


level 2 road


erji daolu


level 3 road


sanji daolu


long-term plan


yuanjin guihua


main road and public square


gandao ji guangchang


master plan


zongti guihua


medical institution land use


yiliao jigou yongdi


medical treatment and health land use


yiliao weisheng yongdi

25 a, 26 a

medical treatment land use


yiliao yongdi

23 a

Ming Xi’an city


ming xi’an cheng


modern agriculture development zone


xiandai nongye kaifa qu


multifunctional land use


zonghe yongdi

25 a, 26 a

municipal service land use


shizheng yongdi

23 a, 25 a, 26 a

neighbourhood park


jiequ gongyuan

36 a

non-municipal organ area


feishishujiguan yongdi


nursery, orchard, flower garden


miaopu guoyuan huayuan

36 a

old housing preservation area


jiu minju baoliuqu


one store building


pingfang jianzhu

22, 29

opposite scenery visual corridor


duijing shixian zoulang

28 a

ordinary main road


yiban gandao


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Dorothée Rihal

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ordinary street / road

一般道路 一般公路

yiban daolu yiban gonglu

37,43 39

other purpose land use


qita yongdi

20, 21 a

palace area


gongdian qu

28 a

palace ruins


gudian yizhi


park and green space


gongyuan ludi


pedestrian street



31 a

planned area


guihua quyu


planned construction of ancient buildings


gu jian guihua jianzhu


planned overpass


guihua lijiaowei


planned street


guihua daolu


planned zone extent


guihua qu fanwei


power plant




power plant and high voltage line


dianchang gaoyaxian


productive green space area


shengchan lüdi

36 b

protection green space


fanghu lüdi

36 b

provincial and municipal organ


shengshi jiguan

21 a

public construction land use

公共建筑用地 公建用地

gonggong jianzhu yongdi gongjian yongdi

20, 21 a 23 a, 25 a, 26 a

public green space


gonggong lüdi

36 b

public park




public utility land use


gongyong shiye yongdi

21 a

railway and railway station


tielu ji chezhan

22, 29

railway, railway station

铁路, 火车站

tielu, huochezhan





24, 41

railway land use 铁路用地 tieluyongdi

17a, 20, 23, 25 a, 26 a

railway site


tielu zhanchang

21 a

recreation land use


yule yongdi


recreation and holiday area


wenti ji dujia qu


red line road


hongxian daolu


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XIAN-articles.2.indd 134


residential land use


juzhu yongdi 20, 21 a, 23 a, 25 a, 26 a

residential area


juzhu qu


residential neighbourhood


zhuzhai jiefang


revolutionary site high-protection area

革命文物绝 对保护区

geming wenwu juedui baohu qu






river, lake







20, 21 a, 24, 38

ruins and extent of the Han and Tang precincts

汉唐城廓遗 址及范围

han tang chengkuo yizhi ji fanwei


running-water plant


zilaishui chang


safety area


anquan qu


scientific park


kexue gongyuan

36 a

scientific research and design land use


keyan sheji yongdi


scientific unit


keyan danwei

21 a

secondary main road


ciyao gandao


secondary street / road

次要道路 次要公路

ciyao daolu ciyao gonglu

43 41

sewage treatment plant


wushui chuli chang


short- and long-term greening


jinyuanqi lühua


short-term construction extent


jinqi xiujian fanwei


small road




special land use


teshu yongdi

23 a, 25 a, 26 a

sports ground




sports land use


tiyu yongdi 20, 21 a, 23 a, 25 a, 26 a, 36 a





storehouse land use


cangchu yongdi

23 a

street 道路 daolu 街道 jiedao

17a, 20, 23, 27, 30, 31 a-b, 24

street and public square 道路广场 daolu guangchang

21 a, 25 a, 26 a, 32

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Dorothée Rihal


Tang Chang’an city


Tang Chang’an cheng


television and radio station


dianshi diantai


temple ruins


siyuan yizhi


tomb garden



36 a

town government seat


zhen renmin zhengfu zhudi


transformer station and high-voltage line


biandiansuo gaoyaxian


tree-shaded avenue


linyin lu


two-storeyed and several storeyed building


loufang jianzhu

22, 29

university and college


dazhuan yuanxiao

21 a

university and college land use


dazhuan yuanxiao yongdi


urban construction area


chengshi jianshe qu

28 a, 36 b

urban green space


chengshi lüdi 23, 25 a, 26 a, 28 a, 40

urban green space, river, lake


chengshi lühua hehu


urban extension


chengshi kuozhan


urban land use


chengshi yongdi


urban public square


chengshi guangchang


urban street

城市道路 城区道路

chengshi daolu chengqu daolu

28 a 6





village land use


cunzhuang yongdi

20, 23 a

village government seat


xiang renminzhengfu zhudi


village level settlement place


cunji jumindi






warehouse land use 仓库用地 cangku yongdi

XIAN-articles.2.indd 135

20, 21 a, 25 a, 26 a

water system


hehushuixi 20, 21 a, 25 a, 26 a, 28 a, 36 b, 39, 40

zoological park



36 a

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As a historically important city with a long history embodied in its urban structure, Xi’an has been facing hard contradictions during its modernization process. The rapid growth, with the need to improve the infrastructure and material standards, is confronted with the fragile yet also more robust historical footprints of the glorious capital of the past. The collective memory of a tangible cultural heritage has been at stake all the time. The planning processes of a community reveal ideals and pragmatic adaptations to realities over time. In the period after 1949 Xi’an was no exception in this respect, playing a shifting role on the national scale, but always having a major position on the regional level. The rather hectic start of the communist regime, built on the ruins of the Second World War, and the conflicts and battles with the Kuomintang regime presented serious challenges to the new government. With the help of Soviet experts and central government planners, the first Master Plan of Xi’an was confirmed as part of the first Five-Year Plan of the country. The article by Bruno Fayolle Lussac deals with the birth of this Soviet-inspired, modern planning of Xi’an and emphasises the gradual shift of planning models from a grid plan, inherited from the historic urban fabric and extended by extrapolating this pattern, to a radioconcentric pattern, motivated mainly by needs resulting from the rapid urban growth of the following decades. Referring to recent information, the article also looks into the future development of the expanding metropolis of the Guanzhong area. In Wang Tao’s article the Xi’an situation is related to national politics and its conversion from plan policies to market policies, from idealistic planning to pragmatics : “The history of town planning reverts to its origin, pragmatic and technical manners triumph over idealism, the ‘invisible hand’ is reshaping Chinese cities to the needs of the new economy”. The previous two articles deal with the transformation of the total urban structure and its most powerful evolutionary factors. A more detailed investigation of separate sectors within the overall plans will nuance the understanding of the realities behind and resulting from those plans. Keeping in mind the focused — and in the last half of the 20 th century intense and fundamentally important — ideological debates on public responsibility, individual freedom and rights vis-à-vis of society, it seems relevant to introduce some reflections on two main urban elements that involve objectives promoting the welfare of the people : park and gardens and the housing areas. How did they relate to the existing urban patterns and how did they affect these patterns ? Lin Hui, Yin Lei and Wang Fang introduce the development of parks and gardens against the background of the confrontation of two different approaches to green areas : the traditional Chinese garden (Yuan-lin) and the campaign-type urban greening that originated in the Soviet Union (Lv-hua). A topology of today’s parks and gardens system is established, and two case studies are analysed accordingly. Harald Høyem’s article describes the transformation of residential-area models with reference to changes in the housing policies. The major break in the housing policy was the shift in the early 80 s from considering housing as a welfare issue to handling it as a market commodity ; minor shifts at different periods are also of interest here. This article analyses the relationship between the housing pattern and the overall urban pattern and urban form.

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Bruno Fayolle Lussac

The master plans of Xi’an between 1953 and 1995 From grid plan to radioconcentric plan

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The master plans of Xi’an between 1953 and 1995

Xi’an, the regional capital of Shaanxi, was the object of three master plans between 1949 and the end of the 20 th century (1953-1972, 1980-2000, 19952020).[1] These three master plans were in keeping with the more general developments on a national level : the gridded socialist city of the 1950 s, and starting in the 1980 s, the post-socialist city designed according to a radioconcentric plan, proclaiming the market economy, the liberalization of competition and globalization, all the while integrating — not without difficulty — the concept of cultural heritage. From 1984 on, cities considered as poles of economic development tended to concentrate their activities and to attract migrants, in particular at the level of a provincial metropolis like Xi’an,[2] whose population increased eightfold in 50 years — considering only the “non-agricultural” population — from less than 400,000 inhabitants in 1949 to more than 3 million at the end of the 20 th century. This evolution should be put into the perspective of the total context of the Wei Valley. This valley, as Eduard Vermeer [3] recalled, is situated in the centre of the sub-region of the Guanzhong, whose originality and geo-strategic importance has been known since antiquity. It is, as Sima Qian mentioned in the 2 nd century BC, “the earth inside the pass”, protected on four sides by mountain and river barriers and endowed with a rich and fertile soil. Along the east-west axis, the Wei Valley always constituted a main passage between central China and Central Asia. On the scale of Shaanxi, the Guanzhong region, limited in the south by the Qinling Mountains and in the north by the Loess Hills, corresponds to a territory of approximately 30,000 km2 and more than half of the population of the province.[4] It is situated between the two other subregions of Shaanxi : Shaanbei in the north — on the edge of the Mongolian desert, and the poorest area — and the mountainous Shaannan in the south, oriented according to the drainage basin of the Yangtze River.[5] Located on the southern slope of the Wei Valley, the municipality of Xi’an has seen its limits pushed outwards since the beginning of the 1950 s. In 1949, Xi’an was a city marked by civil war and, after 1944, extensive emigration. It has been a provincial-level municipality (Xi’ anshi) since June 1954 and consists of three urban districts (qu), Beilin, Xincheng and Lianhu (delimited from the Bell Tower, a symbolically significant “landmark” of the history of the city located at the intersection of two north-south and east-west arteries leading to the gates)

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Bruno Fayolle Lussac


1. ����������������������� Made official in 2005, the most recent master plan (2004-2020) does not fall into the fixed chronological framework of this article. Sanjuan, Thierry, 2. ������������������ La Chine. Territoires et Sociétés, Paris, Hachette, 2000, pp. 66-67. Vermeer, Eduard B., 3. �������������������� Economic development in provincial China. The Central Shaanxi since 1930, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1988, pp. 2-27. The province of 4. ���������������� Shaanxi : 205,800 km2 (205,600 or 205,000 according to official sources), but the biggest part is constituted by plateaus (north) and by a chain of mountains (south), for an estimated population of 36,500,000 in 2000. Watson, Andrew, 5. ���������������� Xueyi Yang, Xingguo Jiao, “Shaanxi : The search for comparative advantage”, Hendrische, Hans, Chongyi Feng (ed.), The Political Economy of China’s Provinces. Comparative and competitive advantage, London, Routledge, 1999, pp. 73-112. Fig. 1. Districts of Xi’an in 1989, (Atlas of Xi’an City, Cartographic Editions of Xi’an, 1989, p. 13). The layout of the three central districts starts from the Bell Tower inside the Ming city: Beilin in the south, Xincheng in the east, Lianhu in the west. At the end of the 1980 s, the urban area is recovering these three inner districts and begins to overpass their limits, mainly towards the south in the Yanta district. At the east, the industrial suburbs of Banpo is always isolated between the Ba and Chan rivers.

and three ring-road districts, Yanta, Baqiao and Weiyang. The first two master plans concerned the delimited area of the six districts (fig.1). Thanks to the addition of districts and counties (xian) in 1958 and 1983 (Album, plate 04), the regional metropolis covered a vast territory, making it possible to absorb an urban development that tended in recent years to extend beyond the framework of the grid plan fixed by the first master plan. In order to carry out this study of Xi’an and the Shaanxi, we had access to recent sources of economic analysis, in particular for the period between the 1950 s and 80 s. These sources provided statistical data that is not presented here because of its discrepancies and the

XIAN-articles.2.indd 141

well-known difficulty of evaluating local Chinese statistical data.[6] On the other hand, the analysis and evolution of the plans and their forms are the specific subjects of the present article. The graphic documents presented here are considered as artefacts (“archives”).[7] As such, they are implemented records of models and principles, reports of the plans according to the realities of the site and the ancient city, potential spatial forms considered between 1949 and the end of the century. Finally, this study is based essentially on plans taken from official publications and documents of the town-planning services of Xi’an, if only because of the difficulty of access to the original local cartographic documentation.[8]

See for example : 6. ������������������ Hermann-Pillath, Carsten, Kirchert, Daniel, Jiancheng Pan, Research note prefecture-level statistics as a source of data for research into economic disparities in China, Institute for Comparative Research into Culture and Economic Systems, Whitten/Herdecke University (chepi@uni-whw:de), (no date), pp. 2-7. The plan here is con7. ��������������������� sidered as a “fabricated object” integrated into an evolving cultural system : see Clarke, David L., Analytical Archeology, London, Methuen (1968), 1978, in particular pp. 45, 74-83 ; Gardin, Jean-Claude, Une archéologie théorique, Paris, Hachette, 1979.

31/07/07 2:56:21


8. Cf. ����������������������� Album no.1 for the references. The impossibility of consulting the original documents of the Master Plan of 1953 was underlined by Ya Ping Wang, Hague, Cliff “The Development of Xi’an since 1949”, Planning Perspectives, no. 7, 1992, pp. 1-26 (p. 5). ��������������������� Ping Wang, Hague, 9. Ya Cliff, (p. 3) ; Vermeer, Eduard B., pp. 93-94 : the latter mentions 24 projects out of 156 on a national scale. See note (6) above. 10. ������������������� 11. �������������� Wang Ya Ping, Hague, Cliff, p. 5. 12. ���������������� The land reform launched in 1950 was for the main part completed by 1953, whereas the period of collectivisation had only started. The socialization of the industrialization, which began in late 1949, was completed in 1956 : Bergère, Marie-Claire, Bianco, Lucien, Domes, Jürgen, La Chine au XXe siècle de 1949 à aujourd’hui, Paris, Fayard, 1990, pp. 16-22. For examples of the creation of communes in the region of Xi’an, see Buchanan, Keith, L’espace chinois, ses transformations des origines à Mao Zedong, Paris, Armand Colin, 1973, pp. 155-159.

XIAN-articles.2.indd 142

The first Master Plan (1953-1972) : a socialist city of inland industrial production The Sino-Soviet treaty of friendship, alliance and mutual assistance was signed in February 1950 and marked the beginning of a period of Soviet assistance until 1958. Within the framework of the First Five-Year Plan of economic development (1953-1957), the national policy of expansion toward the west and the northern centre was carried out from urban poles, pivots of an effective economic growth that included Luoyang (Henan), Xi’an and Lanzhou (Gansu) in the west. The Shaanxi became the centre for industries involving the military, textiles, machine tools and electronic and optical equipment. This role was reinforced in the 1960 s and at the beginning of the 1970 s within the context of the development policy of the interior provinces — the strategy of the Third Front — aimed at distributing economic development. Xi’an, together with Langzhou and Baotou (Inner Mongolia), were chosen as the main centres, notably of an ephemeral region of the Northwest. At the beginning of the 1950 s, within the framework of this plan,[9] the city benefited from 17 of the 165 Soviet-assisted major industrial projects. The railway line of Longhai (to Xinjiang) constituted an important asset for the locality and in particular for Xi’an, whose station was built in 1934. Moreover, after 1950, the first zone of industrial and residential growth appeared on the arable lands of the western suburbs near the station. In 1950, 1951 and 1952, town planners prepared three projects for Xi’an, probably within the framework of the first town-planning administrations created after 1950, but none of the projects were accepted.[10] The final plan was elaborated in Beijing in 1953 by a team of technicians with Soviet technical assistance and approved in 1954 for a twenty-year period, based on a population forecast of approximately 1,200,000 inhabitants by 1970. The territory of the plan (131 km2) was defined on the basis of a standard surface area per capita (108 m2) that integrated the quotas of different functions distributed in the zoning of the plan.[11]

The master plans of Xi’an between 1953 and 1995

The first drafts (1950-1952) In the field of town planning, the implementation of nationalizing land reforms and the organization of the economy allowed the application of the modern Soviet city model in situ,[12] in particular the development of functional and rational plans on a large scale, encroaching largely on agricultural land, as was the case in Xi’an. The surface area of the plan in 1953 was equivalent to more than eleven times the surface covered by the historical city. The objective of the master plan was to define for each city, and more particularly for Xi’an, the boundaries of the main infrastructures and the localization of the functional zones. This was not without a certain formal aestheticism that favoured the orthogonality of the grids and the hierarchical arrangement of the parts of the plan in tracing the major axes. What it did not exclude — on a case-by-case basis — was the taking into account of existent features (e.g. the walled city) and the geomorphologic and hydrographical characteristics of even more than an interpretation, indeed a simplification of the Soviet models.[13] In Xi’an, the plan of 1950 (fig. 2) defined some principles mentioned again in the final Master Plan of 1953. The design of the city was based on some simple ideas : the new city was coupled to the old city and developed from east to west. It was designed according to an orientation and an orthogonal grid that was to be continuous with the old city. In the new city, the administrative and commercial centres were developed along a north-south corridor, and also integrated sports facilities. The extensions of the plan were envisioned within a perimeter bounded by a ring road and reserved vast non-assigned areas. The orthogonal grid was divided by a diagonal grid that took the inflection of the railway into account and connected the elements of centrality of the new city. Beyond the ring road, two airports were planned in the northwest and southeast, together with zones of development and, in the south, a zone was devoted to culture and education (universities). The industrial parks and warehouses were established in the north, west and east (textile factories) ; residential zones were planned in the southern part of the old city and next to the industrial parks in the west. Green spaces were distributed in the residential and urban sectors, integrating the irregularities of the hydrographic network. But this plan also integrated certain structuring elements of the existing city. The basic principle of preserving

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Fig. 2. First Project of Master Plan, Xi’an, 1950 (The Urban Construction in Modern Xi’an, Xi’an, Shaanxi People’s Fine Arts Publishing House, 1988, p. 28.

Fig. 3. Second Project of Master Plan, Xi’an, 1951 (The Urban Construction, p. 29)

Fig. 4. Third Project of Master Plan, Xi’an, 1952 (The Urban Construction, p. 30)

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the ramparts in their totality was approved in 1950. This decision undoubtedly conformed to the first phase of the national survey for preserving cultural heritage in each area that was decreed in May 1950.[14] In the same way, the grid of the road system was generated by the two structuring axes of the historical city, re-divided into 12 blocks by a network of intersecting, re-calibrated main arteries. The grid and the elementary modular scale of the blocks in the north and south of the historical city were defined by the prolongation to the east and west of an outer boulevard framing the ramparts, on the one hand, and by lengthening the existing streets, on the other. The indication of the site of the ancient palace in the historical city in 1950 (and in 1952) has to be emphasised here, because it did not appear on the official plan of 1953. The draft of 1951 (fig. 3) radicalised the matter by creating a large central zone between a vast industrial and warehouse area to the west and north, a residential sector in the east, and other industrial areas, established in some cases beyond the ring road. The plan of 1952 (fig. 4), which was more normative in the design of the grid, emphasised the development of the new centrality along a broad north-south corridor, but remained very basic concerning the assignment of the industrial parks, which were pushed back to the east and west, beyond a large central residential sector. In these three plans, the proposed grid was based only on the “elementary” grid of the road system projected on a large scale, organizing a network of infrastructures and reserving future step-by-step adjustments and secondary re-divisions of the land, in particular at the district level. While acknowledging the reality of the transformation process of the city on a large scale, a certain number of articulated intermediary spatial positions were defined as well. Except for the plan of 1950, which was more precise in its intentions, the functional zones represented in it corresponded more to main indications.


13. ���������� Hoa, Léon, Reconstruire la Chine, trente ans d’urbanisme 19491979, Paris, 198, pp. 43-54, 57-77 ; Tang Wing-Shing, “Urbanisation in China : A Review of its causal mechanisms and spatial relations”, Progress in planning, February 2000, pp. 347-366 (353-356) ; Ma, Laurence J.C., Wu Fulong, pp. 5-6. Tang Wing-Shing, “Urbanisation in China : A Review of its causal mechanisms and spatial relations”, Progress in Planning, July 1997, pp. 1-65 (pp. 36-37) : “China had simplified the Soviet model by reducing the number of planning forms from 257 in 1953 to 161 in 1954”. Since 1953, the 14. ���������������� zones of archaeological vestiges have been placed under the control of the State in Xi’an. See : Fresnais, Jocelyne, La protection du patrimoine en République populaire de Chine 1949-1999, Paris, Ed. of the CTHS, 2001, pp. 80-81, 85. On Novosibirsk : plan 15. ���������������������� established by A. Vlasov, N. Poljiakof : Cohen, Jean-Louis, de Michelis, Marco, Tafuri, Manfredo, URSS 1917-1978/ La ville et l’architecture, Paris, L’Equerre, 1979, p. 126. On Zaporoljie : Hoa, Léon, p. 73.

These three plans can be regarded as draft master plans based upon the models of Soviet town planning. The plan of 1950, the most precise of all, was reminiscent in its principle and form of certain Russian plans of the 1930 s, such as those of Novosibirsk (1930) and Zaporojie, which were structured by monumental axes.[15] The decision to create a new centre in the west of the old city, however, was not in contradiction with the proposals of Liang Sicheng for the plan of Beijing from 1948. Concerning

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410 415 420

420 425 425 430 435 440 445 450 440 445 450 455 455 460

410 405

410 415 420

420 425 425 430 435 440 445 450 440 445 450 455 455 460

Fig. 5. Influence of local geography on the master plan design in 1953. 5.a. The contour lines of the site superimposed on the Master Plan of 1953: that certainly explains the inflexion of the grid and the more irregular design of the plan in the southeast, due to the general slope from the contour line of 425 m. 5.b. The contour lines of the site in the 1980 s superimposed to the Tang Chang’an grid pattern. This scheme shows the apparent more theoritical character of the official grid pattern. But, we are not sure that the area had the same relief, at this time, due to the fact that the soil is made of loess (depth today between 4 and 12 meters). Urbanism of Xi’an City Center��������������������������������������������������������������� ), Xi’an, Institute of protection of environment, 1989, fig. 3. Ref. Xianshi Zhong Xinqu Guihua (��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������

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the plans of 1950 and 1952, the setting aside of the old city protected it in fact from a radical transformation and preserved the ramparts. The elementary grid of the road system re-calibrated and even respected the existing irregular routes (especially in the south).[16]

The historical city as centrality As against the drafts of 1950-52, the historical city, recovering its central position in the composition, generated the vertical corridor (north-south) of the orthogonal grid of the plan. The protection of the ramparts, opportunely made official in October 1953, as a “zone of well-known important vestige”, legitimised this decision and rooted the master plan of the socialist city deeply in the historical continuum. The principle of the orthogonality of the plan provided reference marks for drawing up the grid of the road system that organised the territory of the plan, while highlighting “the” urban monument through an outer ditch and an enclosed green strip of land. Inside the walled city, the monumental square marking the centre of the agglomeration was located on the north-south corridor of the old city. Two diagonal roads connected the corners of the square, one to the northeast toward the square of the railway station ; the other to the northwest toward an opening in the ramparts made to connect the city to the new warehouse district. This square was bordered in the south by a large median road that led to the ramparts in the east and west. This road was rhythmically interrupted by a succession of public spaces at the intersections that were generated by the new grid of the orthogonal road system restructuring the territory of the old city. The monumentalisation of the east-west corridor of the old city contributed to the same intention, highlighting in the centre of the square the Bell Tower in accordance with the same process as the other gates of the ancient city. The repositioning of the historical city on an overall level by this plan is reminiscent of the “traditional” plan for the composition of the great Chinese capitals ; in this case the capital of the Tang. This aspect also arose in the decision adopted with regard to the articulation between the old and the modern city at the level of the South Gate. From the point of view of the main corridor, the latter, like the wall of the ramparts, was placed in the back of two large public spaces. This public space was located at the geometrical centre of the new agglomeration. Beyond this square, the large corridor bordered by green spaces, integrating the planned provincial stadium and public spaces at the intersections, crossed a secondary urban centre to the south of the agglomeration. In the same way, the transversal corridor of the city, passing by the East and West Gates, continued on to two public spaces at the heart of the new districts. Moreover, this corridor curved

The Master Plan of 1953 Form of the plan and constraints of the site The Master Plan of 1953 was a complete project, presenting the “fully-realised” city [17] in an area bounded to the west and east by two rivers. In the north, the slow urban development was constrained by the railway, which constituted a barrier beyond the ramparts at the time. The latter influenced the zoning (industries and warehouses, residential working-class areas) and, to some extent, the limits and inflections of the plan.[18] Finally, the relative proximity of the Wei River also had a part to play, owing to the risk of floods.[19] Toward the south, the design of a modern city based on a grid of a principally north-south oriented orthogonal road system (in accordance with the orientation of the corridor of the historical city) was restricted in the southeast by the piedmont of the Qinling Mountains (fig. 5). This resulted in a diagonal inflection of the grid and an attempt at a more flexible adaptation of the roadways on the slope of the southeast boundaries of the plan, integrating in particular the site of Qujiang Lake (Tang dynasty). This inflection of the grid had repercussions on the composition of the����������������������������������� southwestern���������������������� sector of the master plan through the drawing of a sector at the southwestern corner with an orthogonal grid generated by the diagonal. In this way the effect of symmetry and balance that characterised the overall plan was achieved. This double inflection of the grid in the southeast and southwest also had an interest for the organization of the networks. On the one hand, the design of a main artery connecting — in the long run — all the sectors of the modern city meant a gain in efficiency, and therefore time. On the other hand, this trace corresponded to that of a drain channel of the urban site. Although not indicated in the drawing of the master plan, this drain channel collected water from the hillsides in the south (the general slope of the site of Xi’an oriented to the Wei River in the north).[20]

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16. ������������� Zhang Liang, La naissance du concept de patrimoine en Chine XIXe-XXe siècle, Paris, Archithèses Ed. Recherches / IPRAUS, 2003, pp. 112-113, 120-122. 17. ����������������� Hoa, Léon, p.16. In 1930, for example, concerning the plan of Magnitogorsk and Milioutine, Léonidov proposed such elements of ways of designing : cf. Knopp, Anatole, “Influence des theses de Le Corbusier en URSS. pendant les années vingt et trente”, Actualité de la charte d’Athènes, Strasbourg, University of Social Sciences, 1976, pp. 158165) ; id. “Aux sources de l’architecture contemporaine. L’U.R.S.S. des années vingt”, La Pensée, no. 127, June 1966, p. 44-69. See also : Ma, Laurence J.C., Wu Fulong, “Restructuring the Chinese city. Diverse processes and reconstituted spaces”, Ma, Laurence J.C., Wu Fulong, ed., Restructuring the Chinese City. Changing society, economy and space, London, Routledge, 2005, pp. 1-20, 5-7. Ya Ping Wang, 18. �������������� Hague, Cliff, p. 6. 19. �������������������� This risk is always an actual one, as could be seen, for example, by the overflowing of the Wei River in August 2003, in particular in Baoji above Xi’an, in Wienan and in Xianyang. Cf. Agence France Presse, October 28, 2003 (also articles in the China Daily, Sept. 2003), See Vermeer, pp. 13-14, 189.

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20. ������������������� Cf. Album, plan of 1974 (plate 18) : to the west of Xi’an, the canal is connected to the drainage canal system, in the valley of the river Bi he. On this river at the time of the Chang’an of the Han and the Tang, cf. Xiong Victor Cunrui, Sui-Tang Chang’an. A Study in the Urban History of Medieval China, Ann Arbor University of Michigan, 2000, p. 11, note 23. This canal must have been part of the whole drainage and irrigation network south of the Wei. See Vermeer, Eduard B., pp. 182-221 and maps, pp. 194 and 215. See also : Tong Yuzhe, A Pictorial history system of Chinese landscape architecture, Beijing, China Architecture and Building Press, 2001, pp. 82-87. The site of the old 21. �������������������� palace, the Park of the Revolution, the Drum and Clock gates, the Great Mosque, the Beilin Temple of the Recumbent Dragon … Ren Wenhui, La 22. ������������ ville à l’intérieur des remparts. La protection du patrimoine et de l’amélioration de la ville historique en Chine : le cas de Xi’an, Thesis of urban studies, Paris, EHESS, 2 vols., 1998, pp. 241-243, 245 according to local sources. Léon Hoa already 23. ����������������� noticed it (plan, p. 64).

The master plans of Xi’an between 1953 and 1995

in the east, probably to respect the existing suburban roadway. The main crossings were an opportunity for the creation of hierarchically structured public spaces.

Fig. 6. Map of the city of Xi’an in 1949 and plan of the Inner city of the Master Plan of 1953 (cf. Album 1, plates 14, 17)

The grid and its scales : the old city as a matrix The road system grid of the new agglomeration was indeed generated by the continuation of the orthogonal network of the seven main crossroads, restructuring the urban fabric of the walled city and the quadrangle defined by the existence of the ramparts. These elementary networks re-divided the space of the historical city by rectifying and continuing the existing streets, and induced the creation of new openings in the ramparts by favouring the communication routes toward the new districts in the south. The outline of this grid considered the cultural heritage and created a specific rate / rhythm in the network of the blocks of the walled and new city (fig. 6). This working principle maintained and protected the public spaces and several large monuments of the ancient city,[21] as well as the major part of the existing urban fabric and certain large monuments integrated in the new network of the small blocks of buildings. It obviously involved a wilful step in the tradition of the measures taken by Liang Sicheng in Xi’an around the 1930 s (rehabilitation of Beilin in 1937-38) and from 1949 to 1952 (restoration of monuments).[22] Obviously, a fine analysis of existing grids in the city was necessary in the development of the plan. Thus the limits of the preponderance of the central square were superimposed on the existing streets. The two large public spaces that bordered the square in the west and the east corresponded to two existing parks (Park of the Lotus and Park of the Revolution) and to a part of the palace site. This plan was applied to the rest of the new urbanised area : in this way, the large monuments, of which some were classified only in 1961, were protected, all the while being integrated into programmed green spaces.[23] Already in heavy deficit, the framing of the existing urban fabric had the advantage of maintaining housing in a city that saw the arrival of many rural emigrants. Grid and zoning On the scale of the urban area, the elementary network was structured by the main north-south corridor and the east-west cross-corridor of the old city. The rectangle of the four main roads framing the ramparts corresponded

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At the same scale, we can see the influence of the reality of the street system of the inner city on the layout of the master plan, maintaining a continuity between the old walled city and the modern.

to the future first ring road. The network of main arteries connected all the sectors from east to west while passing the south. This network of main arteries framing the Ming city was the matrix of the future second ring road of the 1980 s. On this scale, the obligation to change the orientation of the grid in the southeastern corner and the desire to form a symmetrical figure by repeating the southwestern angle of the plan did not call into question the decision for an orthogonal grid covering the totality of the plan. A confrontation of different grids of orientation was managed. This elementary network regulated the system of road traffic on the scale of the agglomeration, generating long urban perspectives rhythmically interrupted by public spaces established at intersections considered to be significant ; in particular along the southeastern and southwestern axes. The secondary network re-divided the whole of the zone planned for residential use into a grid of sub-complexes directly linked to these elementary networks, except sometimes at the edges of the plan. The small blocks resulting from the internal network

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constituted the basic units of a rather large dimensioned area (approximately from 3 to 8 ha.). The zoning logic of the plan was that of framing the whole of the mixed sectors intended for housing development and associated functions, in particular education (not mentioned in the caption), with large industrial parks (except in the southeast) connected to the rail network that formed the limits of the plan. The zones also included vast land reserves separated from the mixed sectors by more or less large forest areas without a specific assignment (except for the textile industry in the east). The green spaces were integrated into this hierarchical system. Green strips of land of various sizes (east and southwest) separated the industrial parks from the residential sectors. In the totality of the plan, those green strips were integrated into the grid of the elementary and secondary road system ; that is to say, at the heart of the sub-complex. But they did play a part in the composition of the public spaces, in particular along the main corridor. Finally, several parks were predetermined by the presence of the monuments to be protected.[24]

ciple of balance it was necessary to associate that of a pragmatic approach to reality that took the geographical data into account. In any case, this configuration of the grid on the large scale of the plan proved to be effective in integrating the modes of urban extension until the beginning of the 1980 s.

A modern plan between two cultures Thus the plan of 1953 seemed to reconcile two different cultures of regulated and orderly spatial design. That of the principles of the Soviet town planning — a destructive town planning, as Zhang Liang called it — characterised by a re-division of the mesh on a large-scale chessboard enclosed by circular roads. At the time, town planning dominated the debates of the capital to the detriment of the defenders of the conservative approach, represented in particular by Liang Sicheng in connection with the plan of Beijing from 1950 to 1957.[25] In Xi’an, the vertical corridor was in keeping — consciously or not — with the tradition of the capital of the Tang, oriented north-south, with the power centres located in the historical city. In this corridor, the locus of centrality of the urbanised space was situated between the two, at the articulation of the walled city and the modern agglomeration, highlighting the entire defence system crowned by the large building of the South Gate. The directional balance of the plan was guaranteed by the monumental treatment of the east-west corridor of the ancient city. This figure seemed to fit well into the old design, which structured the space according to practices of positioning based on a basic oriented configuration (in theory an orthogonal square grid), presenting “properties of symmetry and completeness” as well.[26]  To this prin-

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The sketch-plan of Greater Xi’an in 1959 In the 1950 s, the emphasis on heavy industry, for example in Xi’an, involved the transfer of industries and their personnel to new centres, which led to urban expansion. In Xi’an, approximately 42 industrial companies were established within five years, causing regional and rural emigration that accounted for most of the increase in the urban population. The greater part of the urban budgets was invested in industrialization, resulting in a chronic housing shortage in the 1950 s.[27] In 1958, the year of the launching of the Second Five-Year Plan (1958-1962) was marked by a break in relations between China and the Soviet Union. The interruption of Soviet assistance and the weakness of local governmental support contributed to encouraging and developing local initiatives. In Xi’an, this was translated into anticipated projects of two big industrial parks beyond the limits initially planned and by an enlargement of the textile industry zone. Other projects were not carried out due to lack of investments. However, many small factories were established by the city government or the authorities of the ring road districts in the territories of their jurisdiction without any concern for the environment, and sometimes even in the midst of residential zones. In the old city itself, the authorities of the districts were free to establish their own streetside factories or workshops on the land available. There was a drastic drop in investments in housing (6.4 % of the total budget). However, in 1960 there was an increasing awareness on a national level of the errors that had been made. This began with an authoritarian policy that resulted locally in the dismantling of factories and the forced return of workers of rural origin to their villages. The urban population dropped from 1,260,000 in 1960 to 1,080,000 in 1962.[28]


24. ������������������� Thus, in the northeast, the influence of the Daming Palace is integrated in a large green space, just as the two pagodas to the south, Xiaoyanta and Dayanta, the ruins of a Tang palace (Qingping Park) to the east, and the temples of Daxingshansi and Qinglongsi. Cf. note 16 above 25. ������������������ and Zhang Liang, pp. 118-141. Chemla, Karine, 26. ���������������� Lackner, Michael, “Des pratiques de la position en Chine”, Disposer pour dire, placer pour penser, situer pour agir. Pratiques de la position en Chine, ExtrêmeOrient, ExtrêmeOccident, no. 18, 1996, pp. 5-8 ; DorofeevaLichtman, Véra, “Political concept behind an interplay of spatial positions’”, id., pp. 9-34. Schenk, Hans, 27. �������������� “Some Concepts Behind urban and regional Planning in China”, Progress in Planning, vol. 8, 1977, pp. 153-161. Ya Ping Wang, 28. �������������� Hague, Cliff, pp. 10-12.

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The master plans of Xi’an between 1953 and 1995

29. The Urban Construction in Modern Xi’an, Plate, p. 42 (plates 2-12). In 1958, the 30. ������������� orthogonal plan of the road system was adopted for the historical city, which led to the renunciation of the two radial roads from the centre planned in 1953 : Han ji, “Xi’an old City Preservation”, Bjørn, Erring, Høyem, Harald, Vinsrygg, Synnøve, ed., The Horizontal Skyscraper, Trondheim, Tapir Academic Press, 2002, pp. 79-85 (p. 80). Which could cor31. ���������������� respond, at the time, to the establishment of urban communes undertaken since 1958 : see Schenk, Hans, 1977, pp. 157158. According to this author, in 1971 the municipality of Xi’an was still divided in districts, and each of them into 34 “communes” with an average of 40,000 inhabitants apiece (p.158). Buchanan, Keith, 32. ����������������� pp. 156-159 and photo (p. 161) of the southern suburbs of Xi’an (taken from the Big Wild Goose Pagoda to the south, thus at the edge of the plan), showing the rural, cultivated, grid-filled landscape, equipped with schools, research centres, and housing : Wang Ya Ping, Hague, Cliff, p. 15, fig. 4. This outline shows the interpenetration of the rural and urban functions (in particular of the universities), in the ambit formed by the mesh network of the plan, nesting the villages ; see on this subject : Cartier, Michel, “L’histoire urbaine chinoise : pour une approche spatiale”, Blanchon, Flora ed., Asies II Aménager l’espace, Paris, Presses universitaires de ParisSorbonne, 1993, pp. 45-49 (p. 49).

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Fig. 7. Project of the Master Plan, 1959 (The Urban Construction, p. 42)

The plan was drawn up by the city town-planning department [29] in a context of advocated economic decentralization within the framework of the Great Leap Forward (1958-1960). But the economic context was very difficult, as the great famine caused by the systematic transfer of resources in favour of industry demonstrated. This plan (fig. 7) showed the hesitation concerning the priority given to industry in Xi’an at the time ; in particular to heavy industry and the steel works. The Master Plan of 1953 was judged inadequate because of the lack of space for new industrial needs : this led to the idea of the greater city and the creation of a new urban site (Han cheng) in the west. In its orientation, this plan envisioned (until about 1972) an important urban development to the north, east and west, whereas the centre (with its facilities) had to be transferred to the south. It also envisioned limiting the density of the old city, which was to be the object of renovation work spread out over 15 years. Great importance was attached to the green spaces, especially along several large axes, in particular the northern part of the plan and in the historical city.

The plan was developed in the north by reproducing the southern section (inflections of the northeastern and northwestern corners) and it partly covered the archaeological site of the Han capital in the northwest, although it was classified by the State in 1961. The historical city was in fact in the centre of the composition, but relatively separated from the northern sectors by the presence of the railway and the development of the adjacent industrial parks. The orthogonal grid was more pronounced than in the Master Plan of 1953,[30] eliminating the public spaces drawn at the intersections of the main arteries. The only preserved squares were located at the level of the four gates (not represented) and the station. The square of the South Gate was created between the walled city and the new districts, a measure that involved the demolition of the gate and ramparts. Spaces of centrality appeared inside the blocks of the residential zones to the north of the railway, but even more so in the south, giving the impression that the basic institutions were more important.[31] The large scale of the plan finally raised the question of the absorption of the then-planned suburban villages. This question was raised,

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for example, in 1970 by Keith Buchanan in connection with the sector of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, and in a more pointed way by Ya ping Wang and Cliff La Hague for the same sector at the beginning of the 1980 s.[32] In these examples the elementary grid allowed a nested system of spaces, as we can see on the agglomeration extension map of 1974 (Album, plate 18).

the electrical works, and the western suburbs)[35] in the projected zones of the plan of 1953. From the very beginning of the 1970 s, we can observe an absence of effective overall control in the development of the different sectors, each placed under the authority of different administrations, local, regional or State, and all making their own decisions concerning the investments, expropriations (privatisations) and spatial organization. In this context we can note an enormous waste of land, as Ya Ping Wang and Cliff La Hague observed.[36] Nevertheless the plan of 1953 appeared effective in this period, in spite of the end of the major State policies and the lack of substantial investments in the years 1960-70. Xi’an, keystone of the interior, benefitted from this governmental attention. According to Chinese economists and town planners, this plan was regarded as one of the most successful in this domain. The urban-use zone plan was generally respected and fixed — the mistakes of the decade from 1960 to 1970 notwithstanding. Finally, by diverging from the chaotic development of the big coastal cities, this constituted an advantage with respect to programmed planning.

The Master Plan of 1980 The resistance of the plan of 1953 to the vicissitudes of time Until 1980, there was no officially approved plan for the development of Xi’an. In the 1960 s, within the framework of the “Third Line” policy,[33] in the midst of the Vietnam War and the interruption of diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, a strategic restructuring of industrial facilities was considered to meet the potentially escalating and threatening international situation. Xi’an became an important “hideout” for the aerospace and aviation industries, and this involved the creation of an industrial complex to the west of the city. However, it was impossible at the time of the third Master Plan (1963-1967) to relaunch the planning process interrupted by the Great Leap Forward. With the start of the Cultural Revolution in 1966, the priority became the development of rural and mountain areas, which means that, between 1963 and 1978, there was a sharp decrease in the amount of State support. Thus the new districts programmed during the Great Leap Forward were not realised, whereas the same uncontrolled strategy of transforming the old city by the introduction of small units was resumed. In the southern suburbs, the reorganization by the central government of the educational system resulted in the conversion of university buildings into factory workshops. The green belt running between the different zones was occupied by shops or used for bus stops.[34] Nevertheless, during the first Five-Year Plan, and then again during the third construction campaign, important public industrial investments made it possible to create seven major development sites in the east (the northeast industrial zones of Hujimiao, Hansenzhai, and Banpo) and in the west (the industrial zones of Sanqiao,

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Stakes and objectives of the Master Plan of 1980 The Master Plan of 1980-2000, approved on November 8, 1983 by the Council of State within the framework of the sixth Five-Year plan (1981-1985), was developed in a completely new context, appearing at the outset of the policy of liberalisation and reform initiated and implemented by Deng Xiaoping and rehabilitated in 1977 at the 11 th congress of the CCP. The new policy of market socialism, which put the economy in the foreground, involved a decentralization of the system and, for the long term, induced a recomposition of the local authorities in relation to the enterprises. From the moment Deng Xiaoping was elected, the cities saw their role recognised in development planning. In 1983, Xi’an was on the list of the big cities endowed with the same power as those of the provinces concerning planning and exchanges with foreign countries.[37] These provincial metropolises were directly linked to the centre with regard to investments and taxes, but remained subordinated at the political level to the provincial committee of the CCP. In the long run, this reform sparked a renewed competition between the provincial metropolises, in particular — relative to our interests — in the field of industrial and tourist develop-


33. ����������������� Kirkby, Richard, Canon, Terry, “Introduction”, Goodman David S. (ed.), in China’s Regional Development, London New York, Routledge, 1989, pp. 3-18 (pp. 7-10) : Xi’an was part of the “Third Line”, that of the inaccessible redoubts. Ya Ping Wang, 34. �������������� Hague, Cliff, pp. 10-12. 35. ������������������� Yin Huaiting, Shen Xiaoping, Zhao Zhe, “Industrial restructuring and urban spatial transformation in Xi’an”, Ma, Laurence J.C., Wu Fulong, Ed., Restructuring the Chinese City Changing society, economy and space, London, Routledge, 2005, pp. 155-174, (pp. 155-156). Ya Ping Wang, 36. �������������� Hague, Cliff, pp. 13-14. 37. �������������� Cf. Cabestan, Jean-Pierre, Rocca, Jean-Louis, “Les conséquences administratives et politiques de la réhabilitation des villes chinoises” ; Henriot, Christian (ed.), Les métropoles chinoises au XXe siècle, Lyon, Arguments, 1995, pp. 147157. At least 7 cities are involved : Chongqing, Wuhan, Shenyang, Dalian, Canton, Xi’an, Harbin (p. 150). See also, Goodman, David S., pp. 24-26.

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38. �������������� Ya Ping Wang, Hague, Cliff, pp. 10, 18. 39. ��������������������� At this time we have to notice the importance of telecommunications, in particular the production of optical fibres by Japanese technology (Goodman David S., pp. 24, 89) or the development of aircraft factories. The number of for40. ������������������ eign visitors (overseas Chinese not included) in Xi’an grew from 18,200 in 1979 to 138,500 in 1984 : Vermeer, Eduard B., pp. 124125 (according a local source). Concerning this economical stake of the heritage at that time : Fayolle Lussac, Bruno, “L’impact du patrimoine mondial dans les stratégies de développement local : le cas des grandes résidences de Shaanxi (Chine)”, Gravari-Barbas, Maria ed., Habiter le patrimoine, enjeux – approches – vécu, Rennes, PUR, 2005, pp. 389-412 (pp. 392-394). First national list of 41. ����������������������� 24 listed cities for their historical and cultural influence (Feb. 1982) : no. 23 : Xi’an is listed as historical capital. See Fresnais, Jocelyne, Au regard de l’histoire contemporaine : la protection culturelle en République Populaire de Chine, thesis of the EHESS, April 1990, pp. 643-644. The ramparts, the 42. ������������������ Forest of Steles, the two pagodas in the south, the Neolithic site of Banpo (in the textile factories district) ; in the west, the archaeological sites of the A Fang palace in the west, of the capital Chang’an of the Han in the northeast, the Daming Palace in the north (near the station). The old site of the Xi’an incident (Dec. 12-13, 1936) is listed in 1982. Ya Ping Wang, 43. �������������� Hague, Cliff, pp. 16-17 ; Ren Weihui II, pp. 259, 261.

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The master plans of Xi’an between 1953 and 1995

ment. This was expressed by a search for a strong image in order to communicate a clear identity to foreigners. The rapid development of Xi’an resulted in the allocation of investments in the interest of the regional metropolis and to the detriment of the province as a whole in the long run. The urban surface area (around 162 km2) was now twice the size of the city of the Tang (84 km2), for a rapidly growing population of about 1,490.000 inhabitants in 1980 and, theoretically, 1,800.000 inhabitants by the year 2000. However, this number was already exceeded in the 1980 s.[38] The objectives in this perspective concerned the launching of major infrastructural projects related to water (a dam on the Heihe River and waste-water networks), district heating and facilities. The airport was moved approximately 30 km to the northwest (in Xianyang) in anticipation of greater international traffic. The development of electronic and mechanical industries integrating poles of scientific research was planned in new zones for high technology (in the north and south).[39] Efforts aimed at a better environment resulted in the maintenance and creation of green buffer spaces and watercourses (the Han and Ba rivers). The major innovation involved the taking into account of the cultural heritage. This was done in order to promote the development of cultural tourism on an international level, regarded as a potentially strong growth sector.[40] This strategy was inspired particularly by the discovery of the terracotta army of Qin shihuang in 1974 — long before its classification in 1987 by UNESCO. It should be kept in mind that the Master Plan of 1980 conformed to the national policy of cultural heritage officialisation. In this context a series of measures were decreed, such as legislation for protection of the cultural heritage of the CPR, or laws relating to the protection of cities famous for their art and history, as well as the most important landscape sites. The historical city of Xi’an was classified in 1982 [41] — completing and supporting the first national list of classified monuments drawn up since 1961[42] —, but little highlighted until then. The reference to history constituted an incontrovertible dimension in 1980 and formed a basic and convincing argument for the master plan.

The town planning of the agglomeration concerned all the services of urban development, including two services in charge of cultural heritage and preservation of the ramparts.[43] The detailed documents consisted of the master plan and the complementary plans related mainly to the current situation of urban growth, cultural heritage (inventory of the archaeological sites of the Wei Valley, protection plans for the cultural heritage of the urban area and the old city), tourist development and green spaces.[44] The tourist development project concerned zones in the east (Lintong) and south (Qinling) at a distance of more than 30 km, well beyond the official limits of the plan itself. The change in scale of the territories of the cultural heritage plan was due to the integration of archaeological sites related to the sites of the historical capitals located on both slopes of the Wei Valley, well beyond the limits of the municipality, as could be seen on tourist maps at the time.[45] The form of the plan remained essentially in line with the Master Plan of 1953, which constituted its foundation. It recorded the evolution of the urban fabric, in particular from the situation plan (Album, plate 20) and corrected the shape of certain zones accordingly ; in particular in the southwest. The transcription on the plan of inserted industrial implantations into the residential- and educational-use reserved sectors made the zoning chessboard that much more complex. In the same way, the route of certain ancient roads in the Ming city was now preserved. To structure the urban fabric more clearly, a radioconcentric system of three ring roads was to be used : the first encircled the ramparts and the ditches, the route of the second took that of the channel in the south, but remained unfinished in the east and interrupted in the west because it was blocked by the railway in the north of the city. The planned urban expansion, incorporating large territories without any zoning plans, was restrained by a third ring road that was connected to the others by several straight roads. This ring road consolidated the north-south axis of the master plan, which passed by the Bell Tower. The strict orthogonal structure in the north was in keeping with the continuity of the intentions of the 1959 plan, as far as the prolongation of the east and west walls of the Ming city was concerned. To the south, its grid corresponded to the limits under consideration since 1953 for urban expansion. In the northwest, it pushed the limits of town planning back, in anticipation of industrial expansion and new residential districts (already in a haphazard process

A fragile grid Within the framework of the reorganization of town-planning services on a provincial level in 1980, the development of the master plan was to be carried out in Xi’an.

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of realization). The influence of the archaeological site of the capital of the Han blocked urban extension, but the crossing ring road defined the limit of urban expansion, thus registering the haphazard development of the agglomeration.[46] In the north, the route registered the thrusts of zonal urbanization. The opening-up of the agglomeration was guaranteed by interchanges and intersections on the level of the roads, and the urban motorways were linked to the second ring road and the prolongation of the main vertical and transversal axes.

Fig. 8. Axonometry of the “stylistic physionomy” of Xi’an (China Architecture and Urbanism, 1989, No. 8, p. 68). This axonometric view was also published in “A collection of the treatises in the scholastic thought of Liang Sicheng”, edited by Gao Yilan, as one of the scholastic series of architecture of Qinhua university (1946-1996). In one treatise written by Han Ji, this author points out the influence of the thought of Liang Sicheng on this stylistic physionomy, as the preservation of the structure of all the old city, as the gardens and greenings protecting the historical sites, as the construction of new buildings in the Tang style to protect the environment of the Big Goose pagoda (dayanta). The map shows the importance of the protection area around the Big Goose pagoda in the southeast. The main axis south-north is framed by greening, including linked to the Small Goose pagoda (yanta) on the left side of the avenue. The city is protected according to the principle of “huan cheng gonfgheng – encircling city project”: a green belt around the city and the archaeological site of Han Chang’an (northwest) ad Tang Daming palace (northeast of the walled city) and around the moat of the city wall. (translation of the original treatise from the Chinese by Dorothée Rihal.)

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The cultural heritage plans of the Master Plan of 1980 in the protection plan of 1989 During this period two principal ideas — motivated by national debates and regulations — were implemented in protecting the cultural heritage of Xi’an : the principle of stylistic aspects of the city and the application of modes of protection. “Stylistic physiognomy” of Xi’an : a stake on the scale of the Wei Valley. The year 1982 was a fundamental one for cultural heritage in Xi’an.[47] In February, the city was classified and, as such, put on the first national list of 24 “famous historical and cultural cities”.[48] According to the principle of “stylistic physiognomy” (Fengmao) that informed the debates at the national level at the time, this principle of a stylistic aspect made it possible to define the particular cultural and historical identity of each city on the list. It favoured, as Zhang Liang noted, the “spatial relations” (kongjian guanxi) and the “overall stylistic aspect” (zhengti fengmao) rather than the protection of the material object as such. It was thus necessary to insist, beyond the physical content of the site, on its specific immaterial character related to the characteristic environment of the city emerging from its particular history (fig. 8).[49] In 1982, the officially adopted criterion was that of a historical political capital of a unified empire. On the scale of the master plan, this implied taking the otherwise protected archaeological sites of the old capitals and the associated tombs from the Zhou to the Tang dynasties into account in the protection plan. This set of material objects contributed symbolically to Xi’an’s cultural identity and to an overall view of the sites of the historical capitals of the Wei Valley. The latter obviously integrated — on the northern bank — the site of the capital of the Qin, beyond the jurisdiction and the limits of the municipality.


44. ����������������� For the types of plans produced by the City Planning and Environmental Management Department : Album, plate 21 (notes). 45. ���������������� See for example the Xi’an tourist map (Beijing, Cartographic Publishing House, 1982). One inset with the caption “ the vicinity of Xi’an” shows the imperial tombs depending on the Xianyang municipality. This is also the 46. ����������������� case in the northeast of the site of the Daming Palace, now enclaved. Fresnais, Jocelyne, 47. �������������������� 2001, pp. 134-138, 160-162 ; Zhang Liang, pp. 156-163. 48. �������������������� In that same month, the site of the Xi’an incident in the eastern districts of the Ming city was listed on the second protection list of important national heritage sites : see further in this article at “Integration of the monuments”, note 16. On the national 49. ���������������� debates around the term of “Fengmao”, see : Zhang Liang, pp. 158-163. 50. ����������������� See Zhang Liang, pp. 214 (note 54), 215. The first outlines of these principles were written as early as 1961 (directive of April 17) and referred in particular to the Venice Charter (approved in Venice in 1964 and published in 1966 by the ICOMOS).

Protection areas and visual corridors : the marking of cultural heritage on the plan The protection principles of the national monuments corresponding to a system of radioconcentric zones were here adapted to the local situation, both with respect to

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51. ������������������� Fresnais, Jocelyne 1990, p. 394 (according to contemporary local sources), 2001, pp. 381-392. See also, but with variants on the nomenclature and characteristics of the zones : Ren Weihui, II, pp. 260-265. 52. ����������������� Zhang Liang, pp. 175-177, 215-216 : Point (dian) : historic building. Line (xian) ; streets (or canals in the spas). Surface (mian) : district. 53. ���������������� In 1984, according to article 16 of the “Rules for drawing up urban plans” (Chengshi guihua tiaoli), each city famous for its history and culture, protected by its classification and the law of 1982, had to define the characteristics of its own cultural identity, the scientific criteria of protection (historical and art-historical value), the perimeter of the zones of protection (zone of protection and zone of urban balance), and to prescribe regulations of protection (Ren Weihui, II, p. 259). Li Xiongfei, Urban 54. ������������� Planning and Protection of Ancient Structures, Tianjin, Tianjin Kexue Chubanshe, 1989. For Xi’An, pp. 64, 66, 81, 95, 99, 108. Concerning Li Xiongfei, see Zhang Liang, pp. 168, 217. This revision inter55. �������������������� vened in reference to an initiative of the provincial committee of the Party towards the municipality and departments concerned : Fresnais, 1990, p. 393 ; Zhang Liang, p. 215. 56. General Collection of Regular Plans of Xi’an, Xi’an Municipality, Aug. 1981 : 8 plates. 57. ��������������� Daming Palace, Qinglong Temple, the two pagodas and Qinjiang Park. Ren Weihui, p. 269 : 58. ��������������������� Li Xiongfei, p. 66.

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the contents and the territory involved (see Album, plate 27).[50] The major archaeological sites were protected on their borders by a green strip of land. The major palace sites or structures corresponded to zones of high protection. Large protected monuments, whether state-classified or not, also corresponded to zones of high protection. They were framed by the environing zones of influence that highlighted the monument and then by an environmental harmonization zone with limited building heights and green spaces.[51] This last zone aimed at safeguarding the cone of vision of the monuments by applying the “Point, Line, Surface” concept. From 1982 on, this was a national imperative, defining “visual corridors” between the monuments at different levels of the city.[52] In Xi’an, the application of this method, in particular since 1984,[53] resulted in the highlighting of “monumentreference marks” (figs. 9 and 10) and considering the cones of vision linking these monuments to the monument par excellence : the city walls and gates. Inside the Ming city, this involved the visual relations between the Bell and the Drum towers, and the four gates and the Bell Tower. The city of Xi’an was to be cited especially as an example of the relationship between town planning and the preservation of historic buildings.[54] Therefore, the question of the scale of the space and the large urban roads arose not only in technical terms, but also with reference to the scale of the symbolically most remarkable of the historical capitals : that of the Tang. This reference was called upon to justify in particular the widening of the axes of the Ming city and to define a suitable style for Xi’an to restore and re-create its monuments (neo-Tang). This set of methods applied and adapted to Xi’an resulted in a number of specific procedures, in particular concerning the successive protection levels of the Ming city from 1981 to 1989. The protection plan of 1981 : principles and zones of protection In 1980, inspired by a decision taken in Beijing that recommended taking into account the Japanese example of preserving the old capitals of Nara and Kyoto, the programming of the master plan was revised. With this aim in mind, the municipal authorities immediately made a study trip to Japan in 1981.[55] In that same year a first set of plans that directly concerned the policy of preservation was developed.[56]

The master plans of Xi’an between 1953 and 1995

Fig. 9. Plan of the visual corridors (Li Xiang Fei, Urban Planning, p. 69) This scheme shows the connection between the Big Goose pagoda, the Small Goose Pagoda, the South Gate, the Bell Tower and the station. The Bell Tower is connected to the drum tower and the three others gates. Curiously, The Big Goose pagoda is connected to the railway station (designed as a traditional “big roof” building).

Fig. 10. Visual corridor between the Bell Tower and Big Goose pagoda (Dayanta) (id.). The idea of the protection plan in 1980 was to maintain a general low level of construction. So the two main historical monuments could stay in a face to face encounter.

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These first plans indicated a protection strategy that integrated the stake of tourist development at three levels of the municipality. The protection plan at the level of the master plan applied the principles of safeguarding the aspect of the historical city and highlighting the monuments integrated into the green belt programme of the agglomeration. The plan extended the limits of the master plan in the west, while integrating the archaeological sites of the A Fang palace of the Qin and the capitals of the Zhou (Feng and Hao) into the zones of protection. It defined five zones of protection (Album, plate 27), establishing the limits of the monument sites,[57] and traced the outline of the limits of the capital of the Tang registered on the plan. The ancient north-south axis of the capital — corresponding roughly to Zuque Avenue in the south of the Ming city, to the west of the actual corridor — was redesigned. Concerning the protection and development plan of the Ming city, the ramparts became the reference monument from which the zones of progressive building heights started for the entire inner-city space. The project of co-visibility of the Bell and the Drum towers by the creation of a green space was already planned (Album, plate 30), as was the re-adaptation of the two main axes and the station area in particular. The hierarchy of the arteries was clearly expressed.

and beyond the zone of the city centre, thus asserting the modernization of the urban fabric of the ancient city. In 1989, the Xi’an city centre development plan integrated the protective measures of the plans of 1983 and 1986.[59] It specified the itinerary of the tourist route based on a network of four pedestrian streets, which entailed a demolition and rebuilding programme of facades inspired by the example of Liuli cheng Street in Beijing. It anticipated the development of commercial zones, recommending especially the creation of supermarkets in the underground levels of the traffic improvement projects in the Ming city and other associated measures relative to traffic. The development project of the central square between the Bell and the Drum towers and the widening of the southern avenue (Nandajie) between the southern gate and the Bell Tower were supposed to highlight the stylistic aspects of the city and the spatial relations between the monuments ; according to a 1991 study, this also integrated the television tower that had been built due south along the main north-south corridor of the city [60] (Chang’an Avenue).

The protection plans of the Ming city from 1983 to 1989 The Ming city was the subject of three protection plans : in 1983, 1986 and 1989 (see Album, plates 27, 3032). In 1983, the protection plan of the Ming city and the programme of tourist development (Album, plate 31) essentially delimited the central sector of the Ming city (288 ha.) and defined the network of pedestrian streets that passed through the southern gate, from the Great Mosque to the Museum of the Steles, connecting the two protected districts of Beiyuanmen (district of the Great Mosque) and Shuyuanmen (district of the Museum of the Steles and the Sleeping Dragon Temple). Finally, this plan delimited the big commercial zones along the principal axes of the city, along Station Street in the east. Its widening was supposed to create a visual corridor in the direction of the Dayanta Pagoda.[58] In 1986, the building height regulations (following the Beijing model) modified those of 1981 (Album, plate 31-b) and defined in particular a maximum building height of 36 meters for the entire central part of the city along the northern edge

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Conclusions The Master Plan of 1980 confirmed the image of a compact metropolis contained within the grid of the third ring road, but consequently created a sharp break with the surrounding rural territory. The design of the plan of an inland metropolis towards the end of the 1970 s was still dominated by the idea of controlled development and dependent on public investments. This design did not really anticipate the acceleration of international private investment involving specific sectors of development (as was the case for the coastal cities at the beginning of the 1980 s), on the one hand, and the flow of rural emigration to the provincial capital, on the other 61. In terms of the infrastructures, the desire to create a road system for heavy volumes of traffic in conformity with the decisions of the first master plan quickly proved to be judicious, due to the rapidly growing population, the development of private transportation in the 1990 s and the rate of industrial growth. Moreover, the objectives set for the year 2000 were already attained as far back as 1990. The re-adaptation and joining of the principal axes of the Ming city with the network of main arteries of the agglomeration caused an inescapable contradiction between the preservation of the — in the long term self-blocking — structure of the inherited city and the adaptation to


59. Urbanism of the Xi’an City Center, Institute of environmental protection, April 1989. In 1991, a SinoJapanese study on this was published : SinoJapanese Cooperation Research about the Formation and evaluation of the Landscape of Xi’an, China, Kyoto, October 1991. Li Xiongfei, p. 81 ; 60. ��������������������� Sino-Japanese Cooperation Research, p. 62, figs. 2-11. Cf. Sanjuan, Thierry, 61. ���������������������� pp. 66-67, 114, 128 ; Ya Ping Wang, Hague Cliff, pp. 22-24. 62. �������������������� Cf. Walcott, Susan, “Xi’an as an inner China development model”, Eurasian Geography and Economics, December 2003, pp. 623-640 ; Watson, Andrew, pp. 73112 ; Yin Huaiting, pp. 155-174. 63. ����������������� On the situation of the Shaanxi in relation to the whole of the Chinese regions in the 1990 s, see the articles of Watson, Andrew et al. 64. ���������������� XHTDZ (or Xi’an Development Zone for High-Tech Industries) created in 1988, approved by the Council of State as a national-level zone in 1991, fourth on the list of the 53 national zones of development of high technology. In 1997, this zone was approved by the Chinese government on the list of the four first industrial zones open to the members of the APEC. XETDZ : First site of hightech industries in Xi’an, established in October 1993, approved as a national-level zone in Feb. 2000 by the Council of State. (4.9 km2). 65. ��������������� Watson, Andrew et al., pp. 76-78, 90.

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66. ����������������� “Today Xi’an has become the largest city in the Northwest. Further expansion is expected as the economy and society are developing rapidly”. Presentation brochure, Xi’an City overall plan exhibition, Xi’an, Sept. 1996. See also : The Preservation and Construction of Ancient City Xi’an. Xi’an Municipal People’s Government, 1996. Concerning the plan : 67. ���������������������� “the total area of utilized land is 1,532 square kilometres, and the total population of Xi’an will be 5,600,000. The area of the central urban city will be 440 square kilometres and its population 4,350,000”, Gao Ji, “The Directive Function of Urban Construction Strategy on the Development of Modern Xi’an”, Bjørn, Erring et al., pp. 76-79. Fayolle Lussac, 68. ���������������� Bruno, “Le patrimoine comme enjeu du développement urbain : le cas de Xi’an (Chine)”, Gravari-Barbas, Maria, Guichard-Anguis, Sylvie, Regards croisés sur le patrimoine dans le monde à l’aube du XXIe siècle, Paris, Presses universitaire de Paris-Sorbonne, 2003, pp. 643-658, (pp. 659-651). The project of water 69. ��������������������� supply from the Wei River since 1989, the year in which pollution and environmental quality tests were initiated on a national scale : first projects of environmental improvement for the area of Xi’an and Xianyang, financed by the Asian Bank of Development (ADB), intervene in 1997 (mediacenter See also : Watson, Andrew et al., pp. 79-80.

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The master plans of Xi’an between 1953 and 1995

the dimensions of the road system, which implied the demolition of a significant portion of the material stock of cultural heritage. The principle of zones of controlled building heights to highlight the ramparts introduced the third dimension of the protection plans, but remained purely administrative.

system of the master plan showed that it had a more general function in regional planning through the creation of infrastructures and networks. The “formal” character of the plan was obvious. The plan defined a main distribution of functions according to a mode of rigorous orthogonal representation, inserting the territory in a large-scale chessboard, whereas, from the very start of the 1990 s, the location of factories seemed to correspond much more to a power struggle over territory. In 1992, Xi’an received the status of Inland Free Zone, thus promoting the establishment of industrial parks open to foreign investments. The first high-tech industrial park, The Xi’an High-Tech Industrial Development Zone (XHTDZ) in the south (29.15 km2), straddling the Beilin and Yanta districts, was created and approved by the Council of State in 1998. A second zone, the Xi’an Economic and Technological Development Zone (XETDZ), was created in the north in October 1993 (4.9 km2).[64]

The Master Plan of 1995 The actual situation in 1995 translated, on a local and regional scale, the impact of the 1978 economic reform policy to an area that was on the fringes of the development of the coastal metropolises.[62] At the beginning of the 1980 s, Xi’an strongly lagged behind on the national level. However, the relocation of the weapons industry (originally established in Qinling), in particular to the “Industrial Park of Electricity” in the southwest, participated in the dynamic evolution of State enterprises in Xi’an from the 1990 s on. This occurred at a faster rate than in the other cities and provinces of the Northwest. To some extent the blocking of the development was also due to a certain weakness in the transportation system linking it to eastern and coastal China. On the provincial scale, the sub-region of Guanzhong confirmed its driving developmental role, thus increasing the inequalities between the north and the south. From the 1980 s on, this role was the fruit of a provincial strategy : the industrial development of Guanzhong had to stimulate that of the other two sub-regions. These were well off in terms of energy production. In 1995, however, the coal reserves of the basin of the Shaanxi province ranked 3 rd in the country, while its production only ranked 14 th.[63] Although from the end of the 1980 s on the industrial parks in Xi’an were concentrated in the east and west, along the railway (warehouses to the north, factories to the south), the high-tech industries were established on cheaper arable land in the northern and southern suburbs, between the second and third ring roads. These changes also concerned the evolution of industrial parks in commercial or residential zones, in particular because of the establishment of existing industries in the new ring-road zones. This evolution of the functions within the small street blocks defined by the grid of the road

The stakes : a metropolis of international importance The master plan, which formed the basis of the studies carried out between 1992 and 1994, was revised in 1996. This was in keeping with the national objectives of the Ninth Five-Year Plan (1996-2000), one objective of which was the reduction of regional inequalities.[65] The municipality initially had to meet an imperative : that of the rapid expansion of the most important city of the Chinese Northwest.[66] It had to draw the consequences of the rapid economic development of the 1990 s and the increase in population, all of which led to a change in the scale of the urbanised territory,[67] a higher consumption of land and the inevitable modernization of the existing built environment ; specifically in the Ming city. The objective announced was to make Xi’an a metropolis of international standing with a reputation based on an image of modernity and industrial efficiency associated with a cultural heritage of international fame. This cultural heritage was regarded as an attractive “flagship tourist product”, and its development and promotion were organised in terms of a tourist market to be conquered. Such an objective would finally make it possible to regain “the historical importance of old Chang’an”. Here the historical argument legitimised the claimed status of an international centre of exchange and a key city between Europe and Asia, in particular through the reference to the ancient Silk Road.[68] Several topics of priority were established.

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Fig. 11. General Overall Master Plan 1995 : plan of cities and towns in municipality area system. (Master Plan of Xi’an City, Xi’an Bureau of urbanism and Center of Research of Design and Urbanism., 1999.9, pp. 35-36). There are four satellite cities (weixing cheng) : Gaolong in the north of the Wei river, Lantian, Huxian ; Zhouzhi. The city of Chang’an to the south of Xi’an is almost integrated in the urbanized area. Most of the stopover (or “organizational“) towns (jianzhi zhen) are located to the south of Xi’an.

The development and improvement of infrastructures and the transportation and communication systems had to integrate the new scale of the satellite towns (fig. 11) and allow better connections with Eastern China (including a network of highways, railways and new train stations, and expansion of the airports). Environmental protection, including plantations in the parks, had already become a priority because of the high pollution levels in the agglomeration and the water supply problems in the area.[69] The creation of satellite towns integrated the suburban districts into the plan’s territory, including the more distant district of Yanliang.[70] Finally, the development of tourism, environmental protection and highlighting the cultural heritage constituted an important stake from an economic point of view because of the reputation that the city had acquired in these areas since the 1980 s.

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A master plan between continuity and innovation If, from 1953 on, the plan showed an obvious continuity with the gridded plan (orthogonality, principle of zoning), the establishment of 11 satellite towns — with an average area of 200,000 ha. — along the main roads or on the outskirts of the city bounded by a third ring road disturbed this logic and reversed the hierarchies of the structuring of the space. This meant switching from an orthogonal grid plan to a radioconcentric plan. The ring road limited the expansion area of the grids and organised the relations between the three concentric zones of the metropolitan area : “The inner city or aged city” (Ming city), “the central city”, or the modern city inside the third ring road, and the network of satellite towns and secondary stopover towns.

70. ����������������� Yanliang, on the north bank of the Wei, to the east, already specialized in the aircraft industry, was to accommodate the “Xi’an Yanliang State Aviation High-Tech Industry Base”, approved in 2004. (“”, 14/04/2005).

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71. See ������������������ for example : Hermann-Pillath, p. 37 : according to the index of growth (GDP per capita) established by these authors, between 1993 and 1998 : the municipality of Xi’an largely precedes the other provincial administrative entities and in particular Xianyang on the other bank of the Wei, Tongchuan downstream and Baoji upstream of the Wei. Cf. Liu Yi, “ Infra72. �������������������� structure construction in the Longhai-Lanxin economic belt of China along new Asian-European continental bridge”, The Journal of Chinese Geography, Vol. 6, no. 4, 1996, pp. 75-92, (pp. 75-77). 73. ������������������� With the exception of Baoji about 160 km to the west of Xi’an on the Wei River, the other important cities of the province remained isolated : Yan’an to the north and, Hanzhong to the southwest, on the southern slopes of the Qinling. The number of 74. �������������� vehicles increased significantly between 19941995 : 40,000 vehicles in 1993, 60,000 in 1995 and more than 120,000 in 2001 : Mao Zhongan et al., Traffic and urban air pollution, the case of Xi’an city, P.R. China, ADB, internal report, 2001, p. 4. “There are, along 75. ������������������ the both sides of this axis, to be additionally built some 21 st centuryconscious large public buildings that consistently and harmoniously represent the economic and technological development levels of ancient capital-city Xi’an as the central city of Northwestern China…”, The Preservation and construction, p. 14.

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The master plans of Xi’an between 1953 and 1995

The metropolitan scale In its extension and radioconcentric organization, this plan demonstrated the metropolis’ rise to power on the level of the municipality and the sub-region of the Guanzhong.[71] The extension area of the metropolis (Album, plate 25), marked by a broad green buffer zone, created the theoretical link to the most distant sectors beyond the third ring road. The expansion of the metropolis now followed the axis of the Wei Valley, becoming denser to the east, in the direction of coastal China. This can be seen in the establishment of satellite towns at the confluence of the Ba and Wei rivers, to the north of the Wei (in the district of Gaoling), in the districts to the east of Baqiao and Lintong at a distance of 30 km, and along the road and railway corridor. In the first years of 2000, this corridor became the object of an ambitious adjustment programme with an eye to the realization of a main route between the Chinese coast and the new “conquest of the West” (Xinjiang), aimed at connecting coastal China with the Atlantic.[72] The new programmed sectors along the valley to the northeast and northwest of the city, beyond the ring road, balanced the thrust and continuous urban development to the south, which had reached the town of Chang’an. This shift towards the banks of the Wei River brought Xi’an closer to Xianyang on the other side. Here and there one could find a network of developing cities around Xi’an that confirmed the primacy of this zone on the scale of the province : Xianyang, Weinan in the east, Sanyuan and Tongchuan in the northeast, at the beginning of the Yan’an road.[73] This reconfiguration of the metropolitan territory isolated the counties of Zhouzi, Huxian and, to a lesser extent, Lantian, even if the chief towns were mentioned as satellite towns ; like Gaoling to the north of the Wei River. The large ring road finally made it possible to circumvent the central city, which had become difficult to cross, in spite of the radial roads and adaptation of the large north-south corridor crossing the Ming city.[74] The realization of demonstrative constructions along this corridor and the creation of the central public square were intended to create an image of modernity in an international metropolis worthy of the 21 st century.[75] Seen on this scale, the major archaeological sites constituted important land reserves (75 km2) totalling more than 6 times the surface area of the Ming city.[76] In the west, the protection zones of the sites of the capitals of the Zhou were now delimited and integrated

into the system of orthogonal representation of the plan. In the east, all the sites of Lintong were now bordered on three sides by urbanization. In the central city in the north, the protection zone of the capital of the Han was enclosed by the ring road and urbanized sectors. It will be a weakened territory in the long run, but its programmed development, at least in some cases, integrated the sites into the sphere of the major tourist attractions of the metropolis.[77] The central city : the theoretical filling in of the grid The central city (or “new urban town”), contained within the third ring road, corresponded to the organised urban area whose layout in the north was represented below that of the general plan (overall master plan). The complex zoning there was the object of a more detailed plan (see Album 1, plate 26) that included few outgrowths (northwest, southwest and the green protection zone of the Epang Palace in the west). At stake was the assignment of functions to the entire territory while integrating the facts of the evolution (Album, plate 23) ; except in the east, where the only available land reserves were in the Chan Valley. This “filling in” remained formal, insofar as the actual making of the city was to a large extent already a private, speculative reality. The plan on this scale proposed a functional filling in of the administratively accurate grid, but for the real estate market it defined a technical framework for this filling in by programming infrastructures (road system and networks) on the scale of the small street blocks. This plan was in keeping with the plan of 1980 and confirmed the reality of the developments, as we can see by the combination of residential sectors with industry, public institutions and services throughout the territory ; except in the west, where the large industrial parks and residential zones were kept clearly distinct. The green spaces occupied strategic sites : protection of the ramparts, public gardens in the districts, large green spaces and green buffer strips at the periphery. The distribution of public services along the north-south corridor, Station Street and in the Ming city, underlined the complementary importance — within the context of the city centre — of this broad crossing corridor and of the old city inside the ramparts. The figure of a rectangle oriented by a median corridor accentuated the centrality of the Bell Tower area ; all the more so as it was highlighted by the

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completion of the central square. The zoning scheme confirmed the importance of the development of mixed zones (residential, public facilities, universities, industry) between the second and third ring roads and on both sides of the north-south corridor. The former city limits of the capital of the Tang were still indicated by a street bordered by a green strip in the west and south. On the other hand, as far as the policy of green spaces was concerned, the plan re-adopted and amplified the existing programme of the outline of 1980 as the most effective way to protect the archaeological sites and mark the historic areas. The innovation lay in the creation and development of four important archaeological zones within the perimeter of the new agglomeration for the purposes of tourism. These zones were developed and arranged in wooded, green spaces (77 km2) in accordance with the creation of tourist and holiday resorts in the vicinity.[78]

the ordinariness of the Ming city, pushing the centralizing elements of the agglomeration toward the third ring road and demonstrating the supremacy of the radioconcentric system (fig. 12). On the scale of the metropolis, the planning of the satellite towns, although governed in certain cases by an orthogonal grid, favoured accessibility to the road network that structured the industrial parks. These satellite towns corresponded to sectors of mixed development : housing with elements of centrality and economic activities encroaching on farmland that was easier to acquire, generally at the expense of the rural population, which in turn fueled the phenomenon of rural migration to the city. The foreign companies established there benefitted from legal and tax advantages in connection with the acquisition of land and the duration of land use.[81] The creation of industrial parks at all the levels of the metropolitan territory became an important stake that put the districts and counties of the municipality in competition. Given these conditions, the purpose of the planning of infrastructures was to create an attractive land offer for foreign investors. The grid was now merely a “speculative” and not a functional one anymore.

The primacy of the economy : establishment of industrial parks on the territory The major existing zones were featured on the master plan. The XETDZ was located to the north of the central city, between the protection zone of Han Chang’an to the west, the north-south corridor to the east and the third ring road to the north. The most important zone, the XHTDZ, was established in 1988 between the second and the third ring roads, mostly in the Yanta district, but also in the Beilin district, and marginally in the already urbanised sectors of the Xincheng district. Although it was featured only partially in the Master Plan of 1995,[79] its perimeter was indicated on the tourist maps at the time. In fact, it was simply superimposed on the zoning of the official plan, integrating in its perimeter the scientific university sites of the districts of Beilin (Architecture and Technology, Chang’an) and Xincheng (Jiaotong) and the mixed sectors (residential, public facilities and services). The problem was to create a sector at the edge of the less expensive farmland that was close to the ring roads and allowed the rapid and phased development of industrial activities, services and elements of centrality. The Central Business District (CBD) of Xi’an, programmed within the framework of the master plan, was located in the southwest of the zone, at the limits of the districts of Yanta and Chang’an.[80] The creation of the CBD also played a part in putting an end to the era of the orthogonal grid layout and, in a certain way, to

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The Ming city : a centre in recomposition Lastly, the Ming city (called “inner city” or “aged city”), the densest part of the physical centre of the plan, remained the political, administrative and cultural centre of the metropolis, owing mainly to the development of the northern districts beyond the ramparts. The confrontation between modernity and the development of the cultural heritage constituted a new element in the development strategy and involved specific territories. The image of the past was centralised in the restored monuments — classified and visited — and in the development of the tourist sections of the Ming city. The image of a contemporary metropolis unequivocally dominated the central city beyond the ramparts. The wish to improve the “quality of life” in the Ming city resulted in the programmed demolition-rebuilding of 85 % of the built environment and the improvement of traffic by widening the main thoroughfares. The moving of certain established and renovated urban functions within the zone of the first ring road or to the outskirts (industrial activities) was planned to favour the development of the tertiary sector and the construction of public service buildings for the growing administration.


76. ����������������� Site of Chang’an of the Han (36 km2), of Feng and Hao of the Zhou (25 km2), of the Epang Palace of the Qin (14 km2). The area of the Ming city is about 11.5 km2 (The Preservation and Construction…. p. 7). Cf. Article on the 77. ������������������� historic buildings below. 78. ������������������� Tourist resorts on the Quijiang River, of the Banpo Lake on the Chan he river, of the Weiyang Lake at the confluence of the Wei with the Bah and the Jing. More distant sites are also considered. It appears, however, 79. ��������������������� in the official documents : The Preservation and Construction, p. 41 ; See also Walcott ,Susan, pp. 633-635. In 1997, this zone was approved by the Chinese Government on the list of the four first industrial zones open to the members of the APEC (id., p. 634). Two sites are consid80. ��������������������� ered for the 1 st phase according to, June 12, 2003 (“Starting Area of Xi’an Central Business District”). In 2003, according 81. ������������������� to an official document of the Xi’an’s People’s Government, the foreign companies may acquire the right of using the land : “obtained by means of direct purchase, lease or as shares converted by the Chinese side”. The right of use is 70 years for habitation, 50 years for industrial establishments, services and facilities, 40 years for commercial and tourist facilities. In case of a purchase they are taxfree. Cf. Xi’an Investment and Trade Guide (

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The master plans of Xi’an between 1953 and 1995

82. ��������������������� Construction project of an underground, shopping centre associated with car parking programmes, subways : with the exception of the underground. These arrangements are included in the realization of the programme of the central square. Notably, because 83. ����������������� of research undertaken since the beginning of the 1990 s by a workshop of the School of architecture and landscape of Bordeaux in this district and of the Department of architecture of the University of Trondheim in the district of the Mosque.

Fig. 12. Map of Xi’an (2000) with the locations of HTDZ and planned CBD.

In order to clear the old city, which was already saturated by increasing numbers of vehicles, the option of underground town planning was considered to improve the urban environment.[82] Completing this plan, eight public squares were envisioned on the sites of the main gates, similar to the one already completed at the South Gate. If we put this operation in the perspective of the change of scale of the buildings along the major northsouth corridor, across the entire length of the agglomeration, the crossing of the Ming city involved — visibly during the last two years — a change of scale that violated the regulations for building heights. Faced with such developments, the protection rules meant to highlight the huge gates and a coherent perspective view of the ramparts became definitely obsolete. Finally, only two traditional districts seem to be protected and constitute the last witnesses of the inherited city : the Muslim district

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around the Great Mosque and the Three Alleys district that surrounded the Museum of the Steles, at the foot of the southern ramparts.[83] Given this context, the rules governing the areas of limited building heights were revised in order to improve the profitability of real estate (increased height of constructions on widened perimeters, see Album 1, plate no. 32). The standard reference to the height of the ramparts (12 m) was abandoned : the legibility of the monument as a whole did not play a role in the scale of the city anymore. In the same way the project of visual corridors — which combined since 1980 the Bell Tower, the South Gate, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, the Qinglong Temple and the East Gate (Changle men) into a unified landscape perspective — was noted on the plan for the protection and development of the cultural heritage, but, because of the height of the new constructions, it no longer corresponded to reality.

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Evolution in progress and new perspectives The Master Plan of 1995 anticipated large-scale national projects that were officially planned for the year 2000. In that year, the State launched the tenth Five-Year Plan (2000-2005). The major development project in the Chinese west was slated for eleven regions, including the Shaanxi (fig.13).[84] Xi’an was cited as one of the key cities in this programme (along with Chongqing and Chengdu) because of its contact with the provinces of Central China and its location on the strategic road and railway corridor between Eastern China and Central Asia. The development objectives relative to Xi’an were defined by the fourth general municipal programme in March 2001, according to which the provincial capital had to become the “Grand Xi’an Metropolitan Circle”, with a centre that included the central city region within the third ring road and four peripheral centres consisting of Xianyang, Lintong, Sanyuan and Weiqu. The reclamation of the Wei Valley was also on the agenda, according to a radioconcentric spatial system of satellite towns and secondary stopover cities connected by a network of expressways (intercity motorways). In 2002, this project proclaimed the unity of the sub-region and its primacy for the promotion of regional development, with slogans declaring “One-Line and Two Belts” and the “Xi’an-Xianyang Economic Circle”. It was a question of linking, according to the same idea of a radioconcentric outline, the principal cities of Guanzhong to the road and railway corridor of the valley and to merge the two municipalities of Xi’an and Xianyang into one metropolis at the centre of an economic circle with over 11 million inhabitants, of which 5 million were city-dwellers.[85] This rapid development was likely to increase the risk of pollution, already a serious issue since the 1990 s and the stake of the improvement projects in progress. The cities of Xi’an, Xianyang and Tongchuan were rated among the most polluted in China and, within the framework of the Ninth Five-Year Plan (1996-2000), became the object of an anti-pollution campaign to improve air quality.[86] In addition to water pollution in the Wei River, problems with drought and the occasional lack of drinking water in Xi’an forced the province to consider a programme of water quality improvement for the river in 2006.

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In 2000, this great development project around the metropolitan pole of Xi’an and Xianyang resulted in the launching of the industrial high-tech development areas of Guanzhong. The second pole of this kind in China, it was approved by the Ministry of Science and Technology in 2002 and announced as the “Silicon Valley of Western China”. This project forged a synergy between the recent large industrial parks of the four cities of the Wei Valley : Xianyang, Baoji, Yangling and Weinan, all in the vicinity of Xi’an.[87] It was consolidated by the modernization programme of the rail network between coastal China and the West, within the framework of the already mentioned great project for a “Euro-Asian Rail Link” between the ports of Lianyungang and Rotterdam, studies for which were begun in the 1990 s. It was in this context that the Asian Development Bank took part in the financing of this programme ; this included the third ring road [88] of Xi’an (71 km), which posed serious social problems due to the number of dislodged inhabitants, villages destroyed and the amount of expropriated arable land.[89] Although beyond the chronological limits of this work, the Master Plan of 2004-2020 applies the same scale as the programmes that have expanded the economic area of the Shaanxi metropolis since 1995. As an example, the ADB report of November 2003 specified for the municipality the acreage of the urban areas of the city proper (159 km2), of its periphery (69 km2) and of the five satellite towns of Chang’an (12 km2), Gaoling (8 km2), Huxian (13 km2), Lantian (7 km2) and Zhouzi (7 km2). The total expected land-use plan involved 363 km2 in 2010

Fig. 13. Map of the eleven western provinces, included in the “Great Western Development Strategy (GWDS)”


84. ������������������� The “Great Western Development Strategy” (GWDS) concerns 6 provinces : Gansu, Guizou, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Sichuan and Yunnan ; 4 autonomous regions : Mongolia, Ningxia, Tibet, Xinjiang ; and one municipality on the provincial level : Chongking (Sichuan). 85. �������������� See for these subjects the internet sites :,,” (more critical) in Nov. 2000 and March-April 2004. See also Gipouloux, François, “Chine Economie Intégration ou Désintégration. Les effets spatiaux de l’investissement étranger en Chine” : Perspectives chinoises, no. 46, marsavril 1998, p. 6 ff.. 86. Xi’an-XianyangTongchuan Environment Improvement Project, financed by the ADB in 1997. Cf. Chang Andong, 87. ������������������ Starting the development of Western Regions, building up the Guanzhong High-Tech industrial Development Zones of Shaanxi Province, Report, March 16, 2000 ( Cf. ADB Reports, 88. ����������������� Aug. 2002 and Nov. 2003 concerning the “Xi’an Urban Transport Project”, (adb. org/documents). 89. Xi’an Urban Transport Project Resettlement Plan, ADB Report, Sept. 2003, pp. 7-8 : Expropriations : about 23,900 villagers are concerned either by the loss of their homes and/or partially, depending on the case, of their land (540 were expropriated of both). In the long term, this programme affected more than 29,000 people, that is to say 20 % of the village population on the outline of the ring road and 30 % of the tenants of farmland.

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90. ������������������ Cf. for example : China Daily, Nov. 2, 3 and 11, 2004, and also Dec. 22 and 27, 2004. Cf. preceding note 91. ������������������� and, concerning the question of large roofs (programmed in Xi’an along the street of the west) Rowe, Peter G., Kuan Seng, Architectural Encounters with Essence and Form in Modern China, Cambridge (Massachusetts)-London, The MIT Press, 2002, pp. 87-160. Sanjuan, Thierry 92. ����������������� p. 135. See for example for China : Chen Yanguang, Spatial Changes of Chinese Cities under the Condition of exourbanisation (chenyg@ : Heikkila, Eric J., Shen Ti-yan, Yang Kai-zhong, “Fuzzy urban sets ; Theory and application to Desakota regions in China”, Environment and Planning and Design, 2002, pp. 1��� -25.

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The master plans of Xi’an between 1953 and 1995

and 562 km2 in 2020. On the scale of the metropolitan urban area (228 km2) — nearly three times the surface area of the Tang capital (84 km2) — the model based on the grid is no longer operative, except for the central city encompassed by the third ring road and, perhaps on a case-by-case basis for the satellite towns and certain new sectors of urbanization in the metropolitan area of expansion. From 1995 on, the new radioconcentric model became essential for Xi’an, as for the other Chinese metropolises. In this new context, the Ming city is a little more distant from its periphery. For the rest, certain public services (administration) central to the municipality are planned to approach the third ring road and be established, as the choice of the CBD site in 1995 already showed, in the recent mixed sections intended to enhance the modern image of the metropolis.[90] From now on, urban development will take place in proximate zones and be linked to the network of expressways and satellite towns. Insofar as the creation of these sectors comes within the context of a market economy, reinforcing competition at all levels, the risk of town planning with diffuse urban infill of vacant spaces will increase. The master plan organises and plans the infrastructures (networks, road systems, essential public services) and theoretically defines the functions of the assigned grids, but very often this is only a formal, mandatory administrative practice. The laws of the market, but also the interplay of models induced short-term modifications, and even a reversal of the policies announced. Thus in 2004, in order to restore the character and image of the ancient city,[91] a plan called for the Ming city to be emptied of 40 % of its population by demolishing the oversized and ill-placed buildings and implementing the architectural programme of the “large roofs”, which was based on a way of thinking from the 1950 s. This programme has now almost been completed, for example, along the West Street (Xidajie) between the Bell Tower and the West Gate (Andingmen). For 2007, a regrouping of the municipalities of Xianyang, to the north of the Wei River, and Xi’an is planned. This change of scale of an entity occupying the two

slopes of the valley should reinforce the hegemonic role of Xi’an in the Guanzhong and, a fortiori, on the scale of the province. But this project still requires the approval of the Xianyang Municipality. Thereafter the reality of the development of the metropolis will be carried out in accordance with this radioconcentric model, crossed by a broad east-west thoroughfare that will induce the expansion of the area to be urbanised along the Wei Valley and confirm the long-term resistance of the geo-historic entity of the Guanzhong. The model of a grid-based urban development generated by the Ming city was called into question at the end of the 1980 s, but curiously enough, in official documents since the year 2000, the representations of the planned metropolitan space are sometimes still inspired by the “archaic” idea of an orthogonal Chinese space : “The spatial structure of Xi’an tends to display a city form that contains both linked areas of development and scattered points of importance. For the purpose of industrial development, the structure may be divided into four main areas of interest. They are the West… the North… the South…. [and] the East…”. This representation of space is in keeping with the traditional obligation to allocate an oriented position to each element on a plan and to give it a value relative to the centre. Here we are confronted with an issue that was already raised : that of the continuity of cultural thought that conceptually structures an ideally regulated world, while accepting geographical constraints and the reality of the urban fabric. Lastly, this study will take on its full meaning only when it is integrated within the sociological perspective of the agents able to understand the cultural preconceptions and the existing power struggles in the decision-making process. There is no doubt that the question of checking the analytic models, such as that of Desakota, has to be considered as well, especially in light of the recent evolution of the metropolis. This would make it possible to undertake a second critical reading of this work, re-integrated within the relative, contradictory and often violent context of the evolution-in-progress of Chinese cities, the context in which “the passage of the inherited cities… towards a modern urban society” is taking place.[92]

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Wang Tao

Wang ��� Tao

Townscape Transitions in Xi’an


However, Marxist socialism obviously has a quite different history of incarnating itself in the built environment. For its more theoretical and less practical character, Benevolo (1967 : 146) gave the following description: “Marxist critique, though it formulated several basic principles for the interpretation of the experiments that were actually taking place, said nothing about their application in the specific field of planned building and thus cut itself off from the development of town-planning for many years.” Having come into power in some parts of the world, the Marxists were not prepared for the practical matters of constructing a city. No practical idea or concrete image of what a socialist urban society should be was provided, and the reality they were facing was not the uncontrolled power of capitalism, but in most cases an underdeveloped economy. What happened during this process after the idealists had the full opportunity to turn their abstract principles into reality ? What are the physical results of this process brought about in the cities ? More specifically discussed in this article, what happened to Xi’an after 1949 ?

A brief record after 1949 The origin of modern town planning in China Introduction In his The Origin of Modern Town Planning, Benevolo (1967 : 11) said: “The birth of modern town planning did not coincide with the technical and economic movements which created and transformed the industrial town ; it emerged later, when these changes began to be felt to their full extent and when they began to conflict, making some kind of corrective intervention inevitable”. Against the unpredictable urban chaos brought by early capitalism, there were two basic approaches put forward at the time. One suggested dealing with each problem separately and technically, the other attributed the root of the intolerable situation to the tyranny of capitalism, which should be replaced. Both of them initially had political tendencies. But when socialism evolved to Marxism and anarchism, town planning began to lose its connection with these radical ideologies. Modification efforts were initiated, but without touching the ideological basis.

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When the Communist Party came to power in China, the national industrialisation standard was highly underdeveloped and imbalanced. Except for a few relatively prosperous cities along the east coast, most of the cities were still a gathering place of governance, goods and consumption, supported by the agrarian economy of surrounding rural areas. In 1949 in Xi’an, the largest city in northwest China, the population was 379,000. There were a few factories engaged in textiles and smallscale manufacturing, while some 50,000 people earned a living from handicraft work in simple workshops. The built-up area was less than 14 square kilometres. Public facilities were very poor, with no piped water supply or public transport system (Yin 1985). Instead of fighting the uncontrolled individualism and liberalism in a capitalist society, the premier task of the Marxists in China in 1949 was how to introduce an alternative way to economic development. Clear evidence

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Townscape transitions in Xi’an

shows that the nationwide industrialisation process began only after 1949, when the government deliberately started great-scale economic and social reconstruction. Only with the rapid changes brought by national industrialisation after 1949 did the emergent need of town planning appear. In China, town planning was previously called the ‘continuity of national economic plan’. It is obvious that town planning was not a remedial method applied to unsatisfying realities, but a carefully prepared approach for facing, or rather, introducing intentional economic and societal changes to cities.

Generally, although some important roads were widened and some new housing areas constructed, the road system, townscape elevation and urban territory were still kept. Before these construction actions extended to cause major changes to the townscape, the emphasis of the government was shifted to a strategy of national industrialisation in the First Five-Year Plan era, in which living conditions became a consideration of secondary importance.

Slum clearance and urban upgrading after 1949 The year 1949 was called the year of ‘liberation’ in modern Chinese history. It was thought to be a liberation from all evils known to human beings and their society, and a starting point towards an ideal and harmonious future. Therefore, the first thing for cities was to wipe off all the miserable physical marks left by previous regimes. The period from 1949 to the early 1950 s was a time of post-war recovery. After more than half a century of warfare, most of the cities were in a deteriorated condition and on the brink of economic collapse. The most urgent issues for the cities were the bad living conditions in urban slums and inadequate civic infrastructure. In Xi’an, influxes of war refugees had settled down along the Long Hai Railway, the main railway connecting east and west China to the north of the old urban centre, where they found empty plots immediately after their arrival along the railway. Hence, the first important action on the townscape after 1949 was — slum clearance. According to statistics, until the end of 1953, water pipelines and sewage systems in 20 cities had increased by more than 1,900 and 1,400 kilometres respectively ; altogether 5,000,000 houses had been constructed in 1952 in the five major cities of Beijing, Tianjin, Shenyang, Anshan and Shanghai. Many relevant actions were integrated into the slum clearance, such as infrastructure and environmental upgrading, and construction of new settlements.

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City beautification and suburbanisation in the 1950 s From 1953 to 1957, the First Five-Year Plan period, China initiated its nationwide industrialisation process with the support from the Soviet Union. Some basic political, economic and social features were laid down for the new society: the public ownership of property, the planned economy system, the separation of urban and rural society, and, in the cities, the town planning system, principles and standards for the following 30 years. Two main aspects summarise the policies and results to the townscape: city beautification and the industrialisation of the suburbs. City Beautification in the Urban Centre The city beautification in China at the beginning of the 1950 s only lasted for a very short time. Peter Hall (1988) categorised the city beautification movement by their cultures and places: in America, it was triggered by commercial boosterism ; in India, it was an expression of imperial majesty ; in Australia, it was the pride of newwon independence ; and in totalitarian countries, it was ‘symbolic, pomp and power and prestige, innocent of all wider social purpose’. What was it in China ? Similar to other big cities in China, under the help and direction of town planning expertise from the Soviet Union, the first master plan of Xi’an was produced due to the need of industrial investment allocations. Western townscape vocabulary was introduced with radiate road and plaza systems planned on the traditional urban layout. Roads were widened, important new buildings

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Wang Tao


Fig. 1. Central Post Office of Xi’an built in 1950 s. Source : photo. by Wenhua Wang in 2002.

Fig. 3. A typical housing building in a neighbourhood of the Textile City constructed in 50 s with the nationalist style. Source : photo by the author in 2000

Fig. 2. Housing neighbourhoods built in 1950 s. Source : Xi’an Atlas Fig. 4. The industrial suburb of Beijing in the 50 s. A typical view of a Chinese city under national industrialisation with railway, chimney, new housing and monumental-style new governmental buildings in the townscape. Source : Housing Development in Beijing

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Fig. 5. Urban Expansion of Xi’an. a. Urbanised area in 1949. b. Urbanised area planned by the First Master Plan of Xi’an in 1954. Source : The Urban Construction in Modern Xi’an

Townscape transitions in Xi’an

were located around the new plazas and along the newly widened roads. The new architectural languages had also borrowed some decorative and compositional characteristics from the Soviet Union, creating a combination of traditional Chinese and classical Western (fig. 1). Within the eclectic surface, new types of building functions were contained, such as hospitals, post offices, workers’ clubs, museums, libraries, etc. Together with the new functions, this eclectic architecture was accepted readily within a complex of monopolistic ideology, the pride of a new nation and the aspirations for a new society. The plan of the new housing district of that period may provide a good example of the urban form vocabulary used during this period. The housing district was called neighbourhood (Jie Fang), with a population around 3,000-6,000. The composition of the neighbourhood plan was square and symmetrical and had very clear borders and dominant axes. Public facilities and open spaces were at the centre of the neighbourhood (fig. 2). The buildings were 3-4 storeys high with an eclectic architectural style in a simplified manner (fig. 3). The City Beautification provided a concrete and orderly image of what a socialist city in China would look like. By its formalism and eclectic urban forms, it represented the pride and joy of the newly independent nation in an expensive manner. For economic and ideological reasons, this prosperous period of form was suddenly stopped at the end of the First Five-Year Plan under increasing economic pressures.

industrialisation initiated by the First Five-Year Plan. In Western countries, as Hall (1988) analysed, the suburbanisation arrived through the combined effects of urban transit and private house building under the heavy pressures brought by the rapid industrialisation of cities. But in China, neither the urbanisation level and transportation capacity reached the Western level of suburbanisation. Rather than an autonomous trend, suburbanisation in China was a deliberate strategy of economic development. The key reason was the need to concentrate economic investments. With the highly centralised administration system in China, the process of industrialisation was planned in advance with carefully calculated and allocated investments. Since heavy industrial production was given the highest priority in the economic development strategies of China, a high concentration of investments was required by the government and carried out through the planned economy system. The need to improve living conditions was soon overshadowed by this request after the slum clearance in the early 1950 s. ‘Production first, livelihood second’, a propaganda slogan of the day showed this critical change. For the cities, there was another version of this principle, ‘city construction should serve industrial production, should serve the people’s lives’ (Sun 1992). As usual in governmental propaganda, the sequence of the phrases always conveys very important messages. The main task of city construction was to convert a ‘consumer city’ into a ‘producer city’. The concentration on industry was shown geographically at the national and municipal levels. All the major Chinese cities were categorised into four levels according to industrial investment, and new industrial districts emerged mostly in the suburbs of these cities. The old

Suburbanisation In the 1950 s, there was also a great-scale territorial change: the rapid emergence of industrial suburbs (fig. 4). The main cause of this suburbanisation was the national

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urban centre was strategically neglected to make a good use of its existing facilities and housing stock to accommodate the increasing population and avoid big civic construction and upgrading investments. Within the new industrial suburb, direct investments were made by the state government through its corresponding departments ; the new industries were constructed together with their workers’ villages. Because of the distance from the urban centre, inadequate means of transportation and incompleteness of municipal public facilities, and due to the piecemeal development and different administrative subjection of each project, almost every factory had to have a whole package of public facilities for its workers. The result was that every work unit was to some extent a separate community. This phenomenon was described as a ‘work-unit society’ (danwei) by some scholars and left significant marks on Chinese cities (Leaf 1998). Xi’an was one of the main industrial bases designated by the state government. A total of 17 out of 165 largescale industrial projects supported by the Soviet Union were located there in the First Five-Year Plan, most of which involved textiles, electrical instruments and munitions. In the first master plan approved by the state government in 1954, the city had a very clear functional zoning. The west and east suburbs were planned for the development of these industries (fig. 5). The textile district in the east suburb, which was called ‘textile town’ by local people, was a perfect model of a ‘work-unit society’ industrial suburb of that time (fig. 6).

Urban utopia after late 1950s The origin of the great-scale commune movement that started in 1958 in China is a very complicated historical event. Two efforts were obviously enclosed in this movement. Firstly, coping with the Great Leap Forward movement on industrial production, the commune was invented for rural areas to retain agricultural production ability to support the growing industrial production and corresponding urban population (Sun 1992). The second effort was more remarkable in the case of cities, for this was the first time serious attention was paid to the social

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Tao Wang


Fig. 6. Textile City A totally new industrial town planned and constructed in 1950 s. There is a clear correlation between factories and their housing neighbourhoods, showing the typical pattern of ‘workunit’ society. Source : Xi’an Atlas

organisation in the new communist China. If the town planning previously concerned mainly how to build up the economic basis, the organisation of a new society was given more consideration this time. Regarded as an ideal societal model, the commune idea rapidly reached the urban areas. According to some urban commune projects at the time, the basic principle was the emphasis on the collectiveness of people’s lives. From the utopian ideas of visionaries in the early 1800 s in Western countries, we can see a stress on the freedom of developing individuality, liberating the workers from endless labour and poor living conditions, giving them the chance to enjoy leisure and develop individuality. Therefore, in their schemes, the production organisation is collective, while a wider range of possibilities is emphasised in leisure life (Benevolo 1967). But in China, the urban commune was more obligatory in stressing collectiveness in almost every aspect of its members’ lives from thought to behaviour. In a typical urban commune (fig. 7), a refectory is the key element of composition resembling the collectiveness, which is also the gathering and meeting place for the members of the commune. Most of the public facilities are on the

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Population and land emphasis after the early 1970s

Fig. 7. A floor plan of a urban commune building in Tianjin in early 1960 s. Source : redrawn by the author from Architectural Journal of China.

first floor including workshops for housewives, kindergartens, rest homes, etc. Above the first floor are apartment houses which are just bedrooms with inadequate living space and facilities. Many cities revised their master plans according to the urban commune principles. Xi’an’s master plan was revised accordingly in 1958, making the urban commune the principle of organisation and basic form of urban settlement. The rigid functional zoning idea embodied in the first master plan was criticised. The urban commune was described as an urban unit containing all the economic, political, socio-psychological functions within it to annihilate the Three Differences (the difference between workers and peasants, the difference between mental and physical labour, and the difference between urban and rural areas), thus to achieve an ideal egalitarian society (Lu, Rowe and Zhang 2001). Simultaneously, combined with the Great Leap Forward Movement, further industrialisation was urged to stimulate the industrial production to surpass the U.S. and the UK. in a short time (Sun 1992). A dramatic event during this period was an order issued by the state government to ‘stop town planning for three years’ in 1960. As Tang (2000) described, ‘administrative coordination began to give way to the still utopian socialist principles of equity and egalitarianism’. Although representing a great change in the organisational principle of urban society, physically, the urban commune brought no obvious change to the city. The most visible changes were further industrialisation in suburbs, few commune edifices, public refectories and small-scale factories scattered in the city. Under this vacancy of city planning control, the qualities of the urban area deteriorated quickly with autonomous minor constructions and increasing density.

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Townscape transitions in Xi’an

Although strict migration policies were adopted for cities in the early 1960 s, with years of uncontrolled land expansion and lack of birth control, and with underdeveloped agricultural produce, it was getting harder and harder to support the urban population and welfare system. On many different occasions, the leaders of China began to emphasise the importance of farmland protection and control of the urban expansion. At the same time, geographically, the national development strategy also displayed some changes. Industries were dispersed to inland China and remote sites in rural and mountain areas for the sake of national security. Accordingly, less investments were channelled to cities (Sun 1992). With less investments and coping with rigid land control, the cities had limited possibilities to initiate any large-scale construction. Most of the cities were dealing with minor renovations within the built area as before, resulting in an ever-increasing density and a very low housing standard. With relatively larger budgets, a few of the big cities in which the conflicts of land and population were felt most sharply began to set out vertical development to ease the tension between land and population. As a new type of building, high-rise apartment houses emerged. Xi’an was left out of this trend for its relatively small population and smaller budget. Its main accomplishments during this period were low-standard housing and increased density by self-construction, which were the combined result of the lack of control and an ever-growing population. This was the situation common to most of the Chinese cities during the Great Cultural Revolution.

Urban renewal before 1997 On the efforts of shaping a city by town planning in the Western world, Benevolo (1967) argued: “It was to apply the plausible approximation of an absolutely invariable

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image to a very slow-moving reality. But this approximation became increasingly difficult as the tempo of change became more and more rapid, and at the same time liberal thought was destroying belief in the intervention of authority upon which the effective execution of this type of operation depended.” The situation in China was quite similar after the economic reforms. If town planning had previously had its effectiveness in pursuing an ideal image, it began to lose both the effectiveness and the image after the economic reforms. The old urban centre, which had been neglected most of the time by previous development, was now brought to the front stage. Urban expansion by further suburbs was considered too costly and with less market attractiveness, and was also forbidden by the state government owing to the tension between land and population mentioned in the previous chapter which has continued ever since. The urban construction in Xi’an moved its emphasis to the long laid-aside urban centres. The profit potential of the old urban area was explored both by private investors and the government, and certain areas in the urban centre were given superior consideration. These areas were mostly the plots along the main street and the old housing districts, which had great profit potential. At the same time, the long-neglected housing areas within the urban centre reached their extremity of deterioration and were badly in need of repairs and upgrading. At this point, the developer and government found their common interests. The former could make good profits from the commercial potential of the land, while the latter could have the infrastructure upgraded, townscape improved, taxes raised and work opportunities created by the investments. Many cities issued and performed big plans of urban renewal for these old housing districts. This action was so overwhelming that the whole townscape was changed in a short time. New commercial, office and housing areas emerged quickly in the old urban centre. The impact was so strong that not only the deteriorating area but also culturally valuable buildings and traditional urban characters were wiped out. The long-kept silhouette and appearance of the traditional townscape in the old urban centre was changed and buried under new constructions (fig. 8).

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Wang Tao

City beautification after 1997


Fig. 8. The changes in the South Street. The South Street in the 1950 s. Source : Xi’an Atlas

In 1997, a global economic crisis affected China, which was no longer immune after years of opening-up policy. The most obvious pain felt by most Chinese cities was the lack of investments. To acquire a bigger share in the decreased overall investments in China and attract new investments from the outside, new elements were integrated into the ongoing urban renewal process. This period could be described as another round of ‘city beautification’ because more attention was paid to the environmental quality, or ‘investment environment’, than had usually been addressed. Many civic constructions were initiated by the municipality aiming to improve the appearance, amenities and efficiency of the city. A famous event of this change was the ‘plaza and lawn movement’, in which many cities in China initiated large projects of urban open space, planting and facade refurbishment, and began to carve out their own characteristics. In Xi’an, the central plaza situated at the very centre of the old city, planned on the first master plan in 1953 under the monumental Soviet urbanism, only had the opportunity to be realised in 1998 during this new city beautification movement (fig. 9). The main axis road penetrating the urban centre was widened to 80 metres in 1999 and decorated with a series of plazas planned at different nodal points

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Townscape transitions in Xi’an

(fig. 10). The urban renewal after the economic reforms brought more changes than ever to Chinese cities. The traditional townscape of the urban centres was quickly being driven out of the city by the market impulse.

final remarks

Fig. 9. The Bell Tower – Drum Tower Plaza in 2003. Source : photo by Wenhua Wang.

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A general trend of townscape transition in Xi’an could be outlined from this description: since 1949, after a short period of upgrading the urban centres, the national industrialisation process quickly shifted the emphasis of urban construction to the new peripheral industrial suburbs. After the First Five-Year Plan, the urban commune movement tried to change the whole social structure of Chinese cities, but due to the economic stagnation and its utopian character, it had limited possibilities of fulfilling its great ambitions. The most effective marks left on cities in this period were the disorder of construction and deterioration. Then, extending into the 1970 s, the population and land problems brought increasing density and deteriorated the overall urban living conditions. After the economic reform was implemented in the 1980 s, speculative market forces took over the task of economic planning, in cooperation with the more autonomous municipalities, and introduced great-scale urban renewal actions and drastic changes to the townscape. Peter Hall (1988) attributes many of the planning thoughts to those early visionaries, which included the Marxists. The town planning in China could be seen as a process of these visionary thoughts turning into reality. The most urgent task of these idealists was not to fight the evils of capitalism, but to build up the new nation’s economy. If there had been a collective image of how the city and society should be before the economic reforms in the 1980 s and the shaping of townscape that followed it, this collective image collapsed and gave its power to uncertainty. Economic development is still the driving force behind the townscape transition in China ; however, since the 1980 s this force is no longer controlled or ‘planned’. The history of town planning rolls back to its origins, pragmatic and technical manners triumph over idealism, the ‘invisible hand’ is reshaping Chinese cities to the needs of the new economy.

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Benevolo, Leonardo, The Origin of Modern Town Planning (English translation), The MIT Press, Cambridge 1967. Editorial Board, The Urban Construction in Modern Xi’an, People’s Press of Shaanxi, Xi’an 1988. Editorial Board, Xi’an Atlas., Xi’an Atlas Press Xi’an 1989. Hall, Peter, Cities of Tomorrow: An Intellectual History of Urban Planning and Design in the Twenties Century, Basil Blackwell, Oxford 1998. Leaf, Michael, “Urban Planning and Urban Reality under Chinese Economic Reforms” in Journal of Planning Education and Research 1998 ; pp. 18, 2: 145-53 Sun, Jan, The Economic History of the People’s Republic of China from 1949 to early 90 s. People’s University Press, Beijing 1992. Tang, Wing-Shing, “Chinese Urban Planning at Fifty: An Assessment of the Planning Theory Literature” in Journal of Planning Literature 2000 ; pp. 14, 3: 347-366 Yin, Z.N., “The Historical Geography of Xi’an: industry”. A Research Paper of Shaanxi Teacher’s University 1985. Lu, Junhua, Rowe, Peter G. and Zhang, Jie, Modern Urban Housing in China 1840-2000, Prestel, Munich, London and New York 2001.

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Wang Tao


Fig. 10. The South Gate Plaza in 2003. Source : photo by Wenhua Wang.

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The parks and gardens system in Xi’an since 1949

The impact of the concepts of Yuan-lin and Lv-hua Liu Hui�� �����, Yin ����� ��������� Lei��, Wang ��������� Fang

The Parks and Gardens system in Xi’an since 1949 Context and strategies of location, function and forms: a critical analysis

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Regardless of origin or profession, the Chinese have a strong feeling for the word Yuan-lin and its typical reference, the Shanshui (mountain and water) model from ancient Oriental culture, still preserved in existing gardens with a traditional Chinese design. Since the introduction of Soviet-style systems in the urban planning of the 1950’s, with their particular attitudes toward park and garden arrangements, and the burgeoning of Western urban design and conceptions of landscape architecture in the 1980’s, people have been perplexed by the contradictions between traditional ideas and the abstract Western ideals. Because of the obvious difference between the two languages, it is necessary to explain the foundations ; thus providing the background for the research on park and garden systems described in this article. The influence of the different comprehensions of Yuan-lin and Lv-hua The term Yuan-lin (园林, Chinese ���������������������������� traditional garden) first appeared in the period of the Western Jin dynasty (265-316), and has thus existed for about 1,700 years. It has taken a variety of different forms in the course of its history, such as You (囿, the Hunting Garden), which concerned the hunting grounds for the imperial family ; and Yuan (苑, the �������������������������������������������� Imperial Garden), which is derived from You, but which included palaces, villas, recreation and dining areas. In terms of its physical composition, the garden contains four essential elements: a “mountain” (the relief), water, plants (including animals) and constructions. Through the compositional order of these four factors, a Chinese garden demonstrated to all visitors and guests the spiritual condition of its owner. Like traditional gardens in other parts of the world, they were enclosed by a wall and originally not open to the general public. The concept of Lv-hua (绿化,��������������������������� greening, re-forestation) has been in use since the 1950s. It is an abbreviation of the term “urban community greening”, which originated in the Soviet Union. It was popularised by Chairman Mao’s invitation to his fellow countrymen in 1958 to “plant trees everywhere and make our homeland green” (植树造林,绿化祖国). Soviet-style tastes introduced

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Liu Hui, Yin Lei, Wang Fang


Fig. 1. The parks and gardens system of Xi’an city before 1949 to 2002 (Album, plate 35.a, p. 118)

geometrical form and axial symmetry to the landscaping of the urban environment, as witnessed in the green hedges and lines of trees that sprang up along the main streets during this period. This kind of plan can still be found today all over the China. The meanings of Yuan-Lin and Lv-hua have changed continually, parallel to the evolution of green space construction over the past 50 years. While people are still influenced by traditional form, the concept of Lv-Hua is also widely used among professionals, officials and administrators (and even among the general population), as is easily demonstrated by looking at government documents and policy. Lv-hua is always the main term used among the general concepts applied in official contexts.[1] Sometimes it is used in combination with Yuan-lin. It is also combined with other auxiliary words, such as “City Lv-hua”, “Park Lv-hua”, and “Street Lv-hua”, to evoke different images of how greenery is integrated into the

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urban space. Can this simple combination of words provoke us to think deeply about ways of planning ? Description of the park and garden system analysed in this article The park and garden system described in this article covers various general parks and gardens and some open green spaces. The system includes public parks, linear parks, community parks and specialised parks, like the Zoo, the Botanical Garden, the Children’s Park, etc. “Garden” here refers to a park-like area on a smaller scale, and with a single function ; and such gardens may belong to the government, the collective or private persons. Open green spaces in China are usually squares and usually present a visual image of the city in the creative planning. Most of them were built after the Liberation in 1949, belong to the government and serve the general public.

1. The Department of City Construction of the Ministry of Construction, The Course of the City L���������������������� v��������������������� -hua����������������� : The������������ ��������������� Collection of the Important Documentations on City Lv-hua since 1949, the Press House of the Beijing Forestry University, 1992.12�.

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The parks and gardens system in Xi’an since 1949

The evolution of the parks and gardens system in terms of their location and function in the city of Xi’an

Fig. 2. Xing-QIng Palace park 2. In Ling–��������������� Y�������������� ou, Lin������� g������ -����� Z���� hao and Ling-����� T���� ai���(灵囿,灵 沼,灵台), Ling means soul, spirit ; You means hunting park ; Zhao means lake ; and Tai means a platform built from s������������ t����������� a���������� mped soil. �����

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3. The Xing-hai ��������� Revolution (辛亥革命)��. After the Opium War in 1840, China was invaded by imperialistic nations and fell into a state of semi-feudalism and semi-colonialism. However, through the Xin������������������� -������������������ hai revolution in 1911, the feudal system was overthrown and the Republic of China was established in 1912. The Chinese Communist Party was founded in 1921�.

4. The Editorial �������������� Commission���������������� of Chorography of the city construction system of Xi’an, The Chorography of the City Construction System of Xi’an: The������������� ���������������� Part of the Yuan-lin Lv-hua, 2002, p���������������������� p. 328-331������������ ������������������� . The Editorial Commission of “the Urban Construction in Modern Xi’an”, The Urban Construction In Modern Xi’an, Shaanxi People’s Publishing House, January 1988��, p������ . 165.

The pre-1949 history of the parks and gardens of Xi’an In the period of the Western Zhou dynasty 3,000 years ago, two capitals named Feng and Hao (丰 镐)������������ were built west of Xi’an. The King, Zhou-wen Wang, planned the Ling–You, Ling-Zhao and Ling-Tai, which covered about a hundred Li (about 50 kilometres) from end to end.[2] This was the Chinese garden in its embryonic form. Later, the first emperor of China, Qin-shi-Huang, began to build Shang-lin Yuan (上林苑)�������������������������������� , uniting the sites of Feng and Hao. He built the Er-pang Palace (阿房宫)������������ , and began to plant trees along both sides of the road in the city. During the Western Han dynasty, many new buildings were constructed under the reign of Emperor Han-wu-Di ; at Feng Hao the Kun-Ming-Lake (昆明湖)��������������� was restored, and the new lake of Tai-ye-Chi (太液池)����������������� was constructed on the same site. Feudalism reached its peak during the Tang dynasty. Xi’an was the capital, under the name of Chang-an. Its imperial garden Jin-Yuan (禁苑)������������ was larger than Shang-lin Yuan. The Tang dynasty created Qu-jiang Lake (曲江)������������������������� , built Hua-qing Palace (华清宫)������������� at the foot of Li-Shan Mountain (骊山)�������������������������� and many temple gardens, such as the ones at Qing-long Temple (青龙寺)����� and Xing–shan Temple (兴善寺)������������������������ . Many famous scholars’ gardens were also constructed, for instance Wang-chuan Bie-ye (辋川别野)���������������������� and Lan-tian Bie-ye (蓝田别野)�������� , which were both designed and used by the famous romanticist Wang Wei (王维)������������������������������������� . Many specialised gardens were also built during this period, such as the Fu-rong Garden (芙 蓉园 Lotus Garden) and the Xing Garden (杏园 Apricot Garden) in the famous scenery area of Qu-jiang (曲江) in south Xi���������������������������������� ’an, as well as the Peony-Garden (牡丹园)���� of Hua-qing Palace (华清宫) and the Peach-Garden (桃园)� of Xuan-du Guan (玄都关). When the Tang dynasty ended, Xi’an lost its position as national capital. The mansion and garden of a Prince Qin, which contained Lotus Lake (秦王府花园 Qin-Wangfu Garden), were built during the Ming dynasty, and were

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Liu Hui, Yin Lei, Wang Fang


followed by the construction of the Bell Tower, the Drum Tower and the City Wall. From then on, construction and development of the city entered a stagnant phase that lasted until the end of feudalism in China. From 1911 to 1949 After the Xing-hai Revolution in 1911 [3], the parks, the nursery gardens, the scenic woodlands and the trees lining the streets were the object of new developments in the city of Xi’an overseen by the government of the Republic of China. In 1916, the first urban park in Xi’an–transformed from Prince Qin’s Lotus Lake–was opened to the public under the name of Lian-Hu Park (莲湖公园, the Lotus Lake). This was followed by the construction of Ge-ming Park (革命公园, Revolution Park) and Jian-guo Park (建 国公园, changed to Children’s Park in 1961), which opened in 1927 and 1929, respectively. Around 1934 plans were made for the construction of a park that was to be named Dan-Feng Park outside the North Gate, where the Dan-Feng Gate (丹凤门) of the Da-Ming Palace (大明 宫) was located during the Tang dynasty. However, upon its completion in the 1950s, the parkland was put to a different use.[4]  Between 1932 and 1933, 164,930 trees were planted along the streets of the city and the roads of the suburbs. During the period between 1939 and 1943, a Nursery Garden was set up at the historical site of Tai-Ye Lake (太液池) by the Preparatory Commission of Xi-Jing.[5] A total of some 20,000 young trees were planted there and in the Zhang-Jiacun Nursery Garden. During this time, there existed some famous private gardens, such as the Zhi-Yuan Garden (止园), owned by Mr. Yang Hucheng, the famous General of the Kuomintang ; the Ban-Yuan Garden (半园), owned by the Ke Family ; and the Dong-guan Garden (东关花 园, the Garden of Eastern Guarded Passage), which was “a garden with about 100 sorts of peonies, owned by a banker”.[6] Most of these gardens were damaged after the Liberation. The Commission of Municipal Construction and the Preparatory Commission of Xi-Jing were abolished in 1942 and in 1945, respectively. After the Anti-Japan War (1937-1945), along with the rest of China, Xi’an found itself thrown into a civil war. The city experienced another period of stagnancy. In 1949, the city’s system of parks and gardens consisted of three dilapidated parks (the Jian-Guo Park with an area of around 2.67 hectares, and the Ge-Ming and Lian-Hu parks which covered an area of some 6.4

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Fig. 3. South Gate square

hectares each) ; a few private gardens ; the belt of plants along the City Wall ; and approximately twenty-four thousand trees growing in the streets of the city (see fig. 1.1, the parks and gardens system of Xi’an city in 1934).

5.� Xi-jing (�西京)������ ,����� the west capital, another name for Xi’an during ������� 1942-1945�. 6. U������������������� pon the inquiry of Mr. Lin Zhi������������� , Jun�������� e������� 2003��.

The different periods between 1949 and 2002 The development of the Parks and Gardens system in Xi’an since 1949 can be divided into four distinctive periods. Each period was influenced by different understandings of the concepts of Yuan-lin and Lv-hua, as well

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7. Wang Kewen, Launch a mass planting ����������������� widely, S������������������� peed up the Lv-hua in all the cities of ������� the ���� whole country, the report of the City Lv-hua Meeting�������������� in February, 1958.���������������� The Department of City Construction of the Ministry of the Construction, The Course of the City L�� v�hua����������������� : The������������ ��������������� Collection of the Important Documentations on City Lv-hua since 1949, the Press House of the Beijing Forestry University, 1992.12,� p. 112.� 城市建设部城建 局王克文, 放手发动群 众,普遍植树,为加速 绿化全国城市而奋斗!��,� 1958年2月在城市绿化 会议上的报告 8. Y������������ ang��������� Xiaochu 杨晓初 (1894������������������ ~����������������� 1977������������� )������������ , original Wei Nan County, ShaanXi Prov. ���������������� Deputy-Mayor of Xi’an from������������� 1954 to ������� 1964 ���� 9. The Editorial �������������� Commission���������������� of Chorography of the city construction system of Xi’an, The Chorography of the City Construction System of Xi’an: The������������� ���������������� Part of the Yuan-lin Lv-hua, 2002, p��������������������� p. 328-331����������� ������������������ . U�������� ��������� pon the inquiry of Mr. Liu-Xinfa���� in Jun������� e������ 2003�. 10. Upon the inquiry of Mr. Liu-Zhitang ����� Jul��y� 2003�. 11��. Xu Bu��, 徐步 (?���������������������� ~��������������������� 1967),��������������� original �������������� Ning Bo, Zhe Jiang Prov. Deputy mayor ��������������� of Xi’an from May, ������������������ 1955 �������� to Jan. ����� 1967

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The parks and gardens system in Xi’an since 1949

as by the officials’ differing intentions ; which together helped form the pattern, shapes and functions of the Parks and Gardens.

Hua-shan Mountain. His initiatives earned him fame, but also criticism: in the 1970’s, during the Cultural Revolution, he was accused of “returning to the ancients” [9]. In the beginnings of the establishment of the nation, full-scale construction was the order of the day. Without a professional master plan and lacking sufficient finances, the system of greenery was extended through basic planting and the founding of nursery parks on famous historical sites ; the focus was on providing the seedlings to make the city more alive. Even though his name is not mentioned in any of the published material on this epoch, Mr. Yang is still commended on his restoration work efforts today by the officials who worked with him.

The 1950’s: Planting in the streets and constructing the Nursery Parks on the historical sites (see fig. 1.2 and fig. 1.3) The basic greenery system of Xi’an city was constructed during the first Five-Year Plan, from 1953 to 1958. At the beginning, through instructions couched in terms such as “plant trees on every possible corner, no matter what kind of trees ; otherwise, plant a shrub. Not a single Cun of land (minimum land) should lay waste…”[7] the inhabitants were encouraged to plant trees in front of or at the back of their houses by the local planting authorities. About 30 kinds of local trees were made available by the authorities without any professional planning. People have described the cityscape at the time as a place where the countryside and the village had moved into the streets of the city ; streets which gave room to species such as the Peach tree, the Fortune’s Paulownia, the Elm tree, the Chinaberry tree, the Chinese Honey Locust, the Chinese Scholar Tree, the Trident Maple, and the Mono Maple, among many others (see “the name list of the planting trees” attached). By the end of this concerted tree-planting effort, 139,000 of these trees lined the streets of Xi’an city. In 1955, when the first Master Plan of Xi’an city was elaborated, it included a Greenery system plan and projected the setting aside of areas which would remain permanently green. Because of financial limitations, the government had decided to construct the Nursery Garden before the parks. Including the two existing nursery gardens, Tai-ye Chi and Dong-guan Garden, six new nursery gardens had been created, all located on historical palace or garden sites, and with a combined area totalling 161 hectares. Later on, they were to be transformed into the city’s new parks. The Da-qing Forest Belt was completed in 1959. It is situated to the west of the urban area. Based on his personal interest for and professional knowledge in the fields of history and archaeology, former Deputy-Mayor Yang Xiaochu [8] initiated the planning of the Xing-qing Palace Park on the historical site of the Xing-qing Palace, restored the famous Hua-Qing Palace east of Xi’an, the Villa of Liu Lantao in the Nan-wu-Tai Mountain area south of Xi’an, and the Xi-Yue Temple on

The 1960’s: The variation of local trees is replaced by a small selection of main trees to be planted in the city (see fig. 1.4) During three difficult years lasting from 1960 to 1962, the 36 hectares designated as Nursery area were turned into agricultural land, the construction of parks was stopped, and some parks and nursery gardens were turned into cropland. After this difficult time there followed a few years (1963-1966) which, according to Mr. Liu Zhitang, constituted the great period of prosperity in the history of the green system of Xi’an.[10]  This prosperity has been attributed to former Mayor Xu Bu.[11]  Mr. Xu came from Nan Jing city, which had been the capital of the Republic of China and was renowned for its beautiful Oriental Plane trees. Therefore, the greenery system style and the vegetation of Xi’an changed and became more similar to those of Nan Jing from then on. Mayor Xu wanted to plant only four species of trees rather than the 30 kinds planted during the previous period. These four were the Chinese Scholar Tree, the Oriental Plane, the Indian Cedar and the Chinese White Poplar. He arranged for skilled workers and specialists to come to Xi’an from Nan-Jing and sent several groups from Xi’an to visit and study the greenery system there. In 1965, the Renjiazhuang Nursery Garden in a western suburb was turned into the Lao-dong Park (Worker’s Park, 7.13 hectares). In 1966, the Garden of the Daxing-shan Temple (大兴善寺,�������������������������� 6.4 hectares) became the Xinfeng Park. It has since been returned to the Society of Buddhism. The grand-scale planting of trees lent the obvious green space conception of Lv-hua to the city during this

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period, and it laid the foundations for the basic pattern of greenery which is a prominent feature of Xi’an city even today. People still benefit from it, enjoying the green space offered by these trees and parks. However, seen from a more critical point of view, this period marked the beginning of the city’s gradual loss of its own historical identity.

park is true to tradition, with its array of freely planted trees of many kinds creating a green fluctuating and transparent skyline against the backdrop of the solemn regularity of the concrete city wall. The City Wall Park symbolises the pride and achievement of the citizens. On the first of July 2003, it was turned over to the public for their free use–along with the Lotus and Revolution Parks, which were opened to the public at the same time. Lv-hua was involved in the construction of the many flowerbeds that were laid along all the major streets in the city, due to Mayor Zhang’s preference for potted flowers. Meanwhile, the park was true to a more traditionally Chinese style of gardening on different scales.

In the 1980s, more parks and gardens were constructed on historical sites (see fig. 1.5) During the Cultural Revolution (which lasted from 1966 to 1976), Yuan-lin and Lv-hua, like all the other references to historical and western capitalistic culture, were abolished. After 1979, when the Reform and Opening Policy was introduced, China entered a new era of development that was marked by the so-called “active mentality”. During the 1980s, many parks and gardens were planned and realised on famous historical sites and on the premises of the former nursery parks. Developments were well organised and influenced by Mayor Zhang Tiemin,[12]  who was described as “the Iron Mayor”. In 1978, the Fangzhi Park was built in the Textile area in the eastern parts of the city. From 1980 to 1988, a Scenic Zone was constructed at the foot of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. The Scenic Zone covered an area of about 37 hectares, and gave room to the planning and realisation of a series of gardens: a Japanese style Garden, Qing-liu Yuan (清流园 the Clear Brook Garden) ; a traditional style of Qu-jiang-Chun-xiao Garden (曲江春 晓园 Spring Beckoning at Qu-jiang Pool) ; functional gardens such as the Potted Landscape Garden, the Rose Garden, and a traditional style garden in the Tanghua Hotel. The Qing-liu Yuan, Potted Landscape, and Rose Gardens were later demolished and replaced by the North Square of Big Goose Pagoda, constructed in 2003. The garden of Qing-long Temple [13]  was also finished during this period. It is located in the highlands about three kilometres southwest of the downtown area, at a famous scenic spot from the Tang dynasty, Le-You-Yuan (乐游塬, the Highlands of Cheerful ��������������������� Wandering). The Committee of the Construction of the City Wall organised the creation of Ring Park, which was opened in 1983 and quickly became the heart of urban Xi’an. The park extends across a distance of 14.6 kilometres, and its plants cover an area of 60 hectares. There are 36 entrances to this linear green space, and it has many small functional gardens, such as Song-Yuan (松园, the Pine Garden), which serves the elderly. The layout of the

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In the 1990’s, green squares and parks with large grass surfaces and decorative plants were created (see fig. 1.6) During this period, the concept of Lv-hua took on a new expression influenced by urban green space construction in South Asia. Cities like Dalian in the north of China and Zhangjiagang in the south were the first “modern cities”, with their large squares, vast lawns and broad, barren streets. This fashion spread rapidly throughout China, and at the order of the Party Secretary, Mr. Cui Lintao,[14]   it was also adopted in the public construction of Xi’an city during this period. In 1987, Xin-cheng Square (新城广场 the New City Square), Wei-yang Square (未央广场), the North Gate Square (北门广场), the Yu-xiang Gate Square (玉详门广 场), and ������������������������������������� the Zi-wei Garden Neighbourhood (紫薇花园小 区) ������������������������������������������������������ were all constructed according to the new style of Lvhua. In quick succession, the South Gate Square, the Bell Drum Tower Square, and the Green Belt on the second ring — all of which are important urban spaces — were finished according to the same concept. Topiary plants were a common choice, as were evergreen bushes from the south or north of China (such as glossy privets and cypresses), along with potted annual flowers. The city looked cleaner and more regular after this overhaul, but the public was not permitted access to these new areas of greenery. The urban space seemed to have lost its own spirit and original function to this new abundance of green fillers. The new form of Lv-hua put a heavy emphasis on grass and decorative plants. It was visually pleasing, but did not allow for integration into people’s lives. Recent criticism of this style, which is dominant all over China, has


12. Zhang Tiemin 张铁民 (1920~1985), original Ji Xian County, Shan Xi Prov. Deputy-Mayor of Xi’an from Dec. 1981 to Oct. 1982, Mayor of Xi’an from Oct. 1982 to Nov. 1984. 13. Set up in 582 AD under the name of “Ling Gan Si” (Temple of Inspiration) and changed to Qinglong Si (Temple of Black Dragon) during the Tang dynasty, this was the founding place of the Japanese Mi Zong, a Buddhist sect. Many Japanese were sent to China to study Buddhism at this Temple in the 9 th century. 14. The Committee of the Construction of Xi’an, The Construction of Xi’an ���. 1949-1999, 1999, p. 17�

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The parks and gardens system in Xi’an since 1949

suggested that it represents a reflection of the officials’ wish to achieve something during their term of office. With their term of membership generally lasting for three to five years, this style is more efficient in the short run, as planting grass and shrubs shows quicker results than the planting of trees.

resemble an object displayed in a museum without any surrounding activity (see Album, plate 35.a, p. 118, the Plans of Current Parks and Gardens). The second main point is that some types of park, especially the open green spaces, were designed to display the symbolic images of the city. Examples here are the Place of the Bell Tower and Drum Tower, the Place of the South Gate, and XinCheng Square in front of some of the large-scale government buildings. The third main point is that the parks and gardens located in collective residential areas were built for economic real-estate reasons. Called the “Centre residential green space” or the “community park”, these parks were required features of the collective residential areas according to the “Code of Urban Residential Area Planning and Design (2002)”, and they were prominently featured on public billboards all over the city showing images of the ideal modern living environment. These parks are enclosed and never open to the public, and their purpose is solely to attract the consumer. They are without relevance to local history or culture, and they have no real function in the daily lives of the residents. The design of most of these parks and gardens is the result of workers being asked to fill the spaces with plants, and they are therefore good examples of the real meaning of Lv-hua (see “The different images of the parks and gardens in the periods mentioned”).

An analysis of the typology of the parks and gardens system today The development of the parks and gardens system in Xi’an city over the past 50 years was influenced primarily by the fluctuations of contemporary national policies and local officials’ notions, which we could find again today in their function, location and form. There are three main points to be made about the parks of Xi’an. The first of these points relates to the location of most of them on historical sites ; the second point has to do with the function some of them have of prominently displaying symbolic monuments ; and the third relates to the fact that a third type of park found in residential areas exists to maintain an official image of ideal living. First of all, most of the parks and gardens were built on historical sites. These parks were designed according to three different styles. The first of these styles incorporated into the park the historical form that still remained, and it did so in the historical style. The Garden of the Small Pagoda, the Garden of the Great Mosque, the garden of the “Forest of the Steles”, and the Garden of Zhi-Yuan are all examples of this approach. Most of these parks are very significant to the religion with which they are associated and are thus of particularly rare cultural value in China. The second group in this category contains a collection of historical sites turned into parks that were built on the historical sites, but where the sites did not display any obvious historical traces. In these cases, the planners used the original name of the site to keep the memory of its origins alive and to lend a sense of cultural meaning to the project. Nonetheless, the parks in this group were given a form that complied with the dominant contemporary style at the time of their creation. An example from this group is the Park of the Xing-QingGong Palace. The last group of parks and gardens built on historical sites consists of parks that included the ancient ruins as centres of interest. Some of these were constructed according to the new concept of “respectfully” building the park around the ruins: the ruins are left to stand alone, with the resulting effect that they

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Two case studies In this part, the two case studies represent the different conceptions of form and function in the evolution of parks and public green space, each one embodying the opposite forms of “Yuan-lin” and “Lv-hua”. Case one: The Xing-qing Palace Park The Xing-quing Palace Park has existed for nearly 50 years and is deeply integrated into the lives of the local inhabitants. With its traditional imperial style, in combination with geometrically composed sections, it represents the particular mixture of styles typical of China in the 1950s. The park was planned and constructed in the 1950s and is situated on the grounds of the former Xing-Qing

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Fig. 4. The different images of the parks and gardens in the periods concerned (see also Album, plate 35b, p. 119). Fig. 4a. Lianhu Park (Park of Lotus Lake) built in 1950’s. (photo Liu Hui 2007)

Fig. 4b. Lianhu Road built in 1960’s. (photo Liu Hui 2007)


List of common trees in Xi’an

1. Peach, 桃树 Tao shu, Prunus persica (���� L��� .��) Batsh. ������ Our pupils like peaches and plums. 2. Fortune’s Paulownia, 泡桐 Pao tong, Paulownia fortunei (Seem.) Henmsl. Local trees in the countryside. 3. Siberian Elm, 榆树 Yu shu, U�������������� lmus pumila L. Local trees in the countryside. 4. Chinaberry Tree, 楝树 Lian shu, Melia azedarach L. 5. Chinese Honeylocust, 皂角 Zao jiao, Gleditsia sinensis Lam. 6. Chinese Scholar Tree, 槐树 Huai shu, S������������������ ophora japonica L. The city symbol tree, it existed in the Tang Dynasty and is a tree planted in the streets. 7. Trident Maple, 三角枫 San jiao feng, Acer buergerianum Miq. Local trees. 8. Mono Maple, 五角枫 Wu jiao feng, Acer mono Maxim. Local trees. 9. Truncate-leaved Maple, 元宝枫 Yuan bao feng, Acer truncatum. Bunge Local trees. 10. Chinese Arbor-vitae, 侧柏 Ce bai, Platycladus orientalis (L.) Franco Local trees. 11. Oriental Plane, 法桐 Fa tong, Platanus orientalis L. 12. Common Walnut, 核桃 He tao, Juglans regia L. Local trees. 13. Indian Cedar, 雪松 Xue song, Cedrus deodara�������� (������ Roxb�� .). 14. Chinese White Poplar, 毛白杨 Mao bai yang, Populus tomentosa Carr.

Fig. 4c. The Ring Park built in 1980’s. (photo Liu Hui 2007)

Fig. 4d. The inner place of the South gate - built in 1990’s (photo Dong).

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15. Information supplied by Mr. ������������� Hui Xing-mao in Feb����������������� �������������������� . 2004 (��������� Director of the Greening Section of the Park�� )�. 16. Jellicoe,���������� G�������� eoffrey and Susan The Landscape of Man, third edition, 1996,������ p���� ����� . �� 7�.

The parks and gardens system in Xi’an since 1949

Palace from the Tang dynasty. With its Shan-Shui elements (mountain and water) the park was true to the style of imperial gardens. It was the biggest park in Xi’an and featured the largest lake in northwest China at the time of its construction [15]  — which took one and a half years and was performed by volunteers as a political task in 1958.

according to a symmetrical pattern, such as the Dignified Fragrant Pavilion (沉香亭 Chen-xiang Ting), which is located next to the historical main Palace Building and is used as one of the symbols of the Park. Another memorial space is the Monument of Abe No Nakamaro (?~770), a famous Japanese scholar who worked and lived in China for more than 50 years during the Tang dynasty. Constructed in 1979 in the style of the traditional Chinese aesthetic, it is an example of the work of the famous local woman architect Zhang Jinqiu (1936~ ).

The different aspects and the Qing-qing Palace Park and its compositional identities: Shan-Shui model with geometrical memorial spaces This park is a typical example of Chinese traditional imperial Yuan-lin style, its composition based on the Shanshui model of “mountain and water” that is represented by the image of “one lake with three islands”. The “water” is located in the centre in the shape of a large lake covering some 14.08 hectares and thus occupying 27 per cent of the park’s surface area. All the main perspectives are composed on the basis of the location of the traditional imperial “Yuan-lin” buildings around the lake. The twostoried Nan-xun Pavilion (南熏阁, the Fragrance in ���� the South) situated in the north is the focal element for all the three main entrances in the south, west and east. The three-storied Cai-yun Tower (彩云间) is located on top of the mountain ����������������������������������������� standing on the western side of the lake. Being the highest vantage point in the park, it is also the “commanding point and is surrounded by a small forest. Apart from the Cai-yun Tower, all the main buildings in the park are located close to the lake, like the Nan-xun Pavilion, the Long-tang Hall (龙堂the Dragon Hall, north of the big fountain), the ����������������������� Hua-e-xiang-hui Tower (花萼相辉 楼, east of the Dragon Hall), the North Tea House ������������ (east of the Nan-xun Pavilion), and the Chang-qing Pavilion (长庆轩, south of ���������������������������������������� the Chen-xiang Kiosk). The origin of all these landscaping features can be traced back to the Imperial Summer Palace in Chengde city in northern China, an 18 th-century Qing dynasty structure. The park contains certain areas built according to strict geometrical perspectives. Mr. Hong-Qing, who had studied in France, was responsible for the French-style design around the south main entrance area. Extending 180 meters along the south to north axis, and 155 meters from west to east, this was the largest geometrical section in any of the existing parks in China at the time. The park also contains certain memorial spaces designed

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The changing urban form surrounding the Park The Park has kept its original form and scale completely throughout the enormous transformation of China over the past 50 years. Some minor landscaping points have been added, though, such as the statue of Li-Bai, the Cai-Yun Tower (彩云间the Colourful Cloud Tower), and the Monument of Abe No Nakamaro, which are all examples of additions made to the park between 1979 and 1989. Moreover, the walls on the southern and eastern sides, facing the main streets, have been changed from simple brick constructions to Tang-style railings, and in 1997, the hard square pavement around the fountain was replaced. In 1998, the Long-tang Hall, which was located on the south shore of the lake, was changed from a simple functional form to the traditional Tang style, and the gate and main buildings of the park were painted to celebrate the 40 th anniversary of the park[16] (see fig. 2.9, the aerial photos of the Park over the past 50 years). With the development of Xi’an city, the environment around the park has changed from open fields to high buildings. Old residential districts are situated close to the park’s northern and western perimeters. To the south of the park, the Jiao-Tong University, a typical example of Soviet-style planning, was established in 1950 s. The entire open field to the east of the park was developed and gradually occupied by the several newly planned neighbourhoods in the 1970 s. With the expansion of Xi’an, the Park is now part of the city centre, which did not use to be the case. As a consequence of the business boom created by the economic reforms of the 1980 s, in combination with a lack of large green areas in the city, the Park has even been regarded as a business opportunity for the development of real estate. Various buildings surrounding the park have gone through great changes, resulting in the expanding urban surroundings appearing large in contrast to the Park, which has acquired the character of a more and more isolated

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green island in the midst of the changing urban context that surrounds it. In terms of its function in the city, it has strong social significance for the local populace, alongside the other famous relics of the cultural heritage. People of all generations associate the Park with their childhood, even though it costs money to enter ; and even today the Park is still a favourite venue of public entertainment. However, far from its suburban origins, it has now become a very important “green lung” in the middle of the city (see fig. 2.10, the changes around the Park over the past 50 years ; and fig. 2.11, the high buildings just outside located at the eastern edge of the Park, a view from the park).

carpet that does not allow for public access and has no cultural atmosphere tying it to the heritage of the City Wall. Nevertheless, the South Gate Square and the Ring Park along the city wall have become important green spaces for people in the city centre (see fig. 2.13, Aerial photos of the South-Gate during the past 50 years ; and fig. 2.14, photos of the green space of the South Gate).

Case two: The green space of the South Gate Square The green space of the South Gate Square is not really a park, but rather just an open space in the traffic island at the South Gate of the City Wall. At the end of the 1990 s, it was planned as a green square designed to be a public urban space. Its significance changed dramatically with Clinton’s grand visit to Xi’an in 2001. From then on, it has acquired symbolic value on a par with that of the historic South Gate building, the City Wall, the large scale planting and the huge modern buildings on the outskirts. A new monumental green space of this historical city had been planned by the geometrical composition, with an image of the classical French garden of the 16 th century. Context and evolution The South Gate had kept its original form up to 1956, when, for traffic reasons, three arched gateways were built on each side of the South Gate Building. This completely changed the appearance of the city wall at this point. In 1985, the Arrow Tower (箭楼Jian���������������������� -lou) and part of the Moon City Wall (月城Yue������������������������������ -cheng) were reconstructed on their original sites and became part of a traffic circle. In 1990, the traffic island was enlarged and turned into a square designated as a public space intended to be seen as a symbolic gateway to the city. The original houses and constructions outside the City Wall were replaced by huge buildings step by step. The new square became a place used for ceremonial occasions. The planting project of the square shows a conception of “Lv-hua” that consists of a geometric, decorated

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The compositional identities Symmetrically linear places enable people to feel a strong monumental atmosphere. The two lines of red lamps along the axes give a strong impression of place. The large urban scale constructed around the Square in the 1990 s created a clash between the South Gate Building and its large-scale urban surroundings, constituting elements of important images of Xi’an city taken in by visitors and local inhabitants alike. This Square fills many roles. It is a functional traffic circle island, but perhaps even more important is the fact that its large, open space attracts many local residents and tourists who come for entertainment and for sightseeing purposes ; because the Square is also one of the faces of the city, representing its resplendent history. But there are no benches, no trees, and no elements showing respect for the South Gate building.

Green fill or Spirit alive Xi’an, the capital of thirteen dynasties during the history of China, is caught between its glorious past and the undeveloped situation of today. After 1949, most Chinese people shared the same ideas about culture, the economy and society, and the planned economy system meant that most people also shared the same living standard. The Opening-up policy introduced in 1979 changed China and the Chinese completely over the next twenty years, creating an increasing division between Western and Eastern influences. People no longer seem to have time for reflection or creativity. Reviewing the distant past and recent developments, Xi’an emerges as a historical city that needs to be more aware of its spiritual and cultural heritage in its approach to urban construction — to ensure that this heritage is

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17. Geoffrey and Susan Jellicoe, The Landscape of Man, third edition, 1996, p. 7.

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The parks and gardens system in Xi’an since 1949

not only made more accessible to today’s inhabitants, but also that it will be passed on to future generations. Our examination of the green spaces of Xi’an, with their existing structure of location, their spatial solutions and their cultural background and functions has highlighted the following issues. Because most parks and gardens were set up on famous historical sites, they have provided a basic structure for presenting the historical and cultural background of Xi’an’s present-day system of greenery. But the system lacks cohesion in terms of style, function, situation, and relation between its different elements. This points to a need for creating a cohesive structure that would show the historical background of the parks and gardens system, not just with the green fill and decorated compositions which look good on paper, but by taking into account the principles of how the environment works on human perception and the human need for activity. In China, we call the system of greenery the “window” of a city’s outlook. It is important for the reputation of the local government, and its fate depends on the governors’ behaviour and intentions. But whereas the normal term of office is three to five years, the establishment of an efficient green system generally takes more than 10 years of clear purpose and professional, scientific methods. Do the two existing common forms of Yuan-lin and Lv-hua really represent their original cultural information ? Does copying and moving the common traditional style represent a suitable strategy for creating a memorable and narrative cityscape in present-day Xi’an ? We should think about the “evolutionary way” and not the “revolutionary way” to today’s new constructions, and respect and record the historical traces for the future through parks, gardens and green spaces in the pattern of the city.

“Art is a continuous process. However the circumstances may be, it is virtually impossible to create a work of art without antecedents”.[17] The art of the present evolves from history. The city will lose its vitality if we lose the parts of the city in which its history is ingrained. If this happens, we cannot claim to respect history, or to respect and pass on our inheritance by bringing forth new ideas, and therefore, we have no way to face the future. An atmosphere that has no historical cultural context deprives later generations of the spirit of the place and its heritage, making them cultural refugees — like children without any family. Is it worth owning a Chinese garden full of cultural history ? Chinese garden cultures more than 3,000 years old tend to be embodied primarily in the private gardens in the South and in the Chinese imperial gardens in the North. But both of these typical forms, which are continuously being studied and discussed by the experts, are the results of one continuous line of heritage spanning over 3,000 years of history. Its present-day embodiments must not betray the original shape and environment of this art form. Therefore, people are hesitant about taking on this inheritance and adapting it to the modern city’s functions and qualities. Today, people fail again and again when they inherit history and neglect to pass it on. At present, with the rapid development of Xi’an city’s urban fabric, experts and the government are still hesitating over this task. So far, no winning scheme has been designed for the Qu-Jiang scenic area and the greenery along the remains of the Tang dynasty’s City Wall, neither from the internationally invited bidders, nor from the local university design faculties. In the disappearing identity of the cityscape, the plants, which play the main role in the parks and gardens, have

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their own rich cultural and historical background, as created by ecological conditions. And finally, there is a strong Chinese tradition for how collections of plants should be composed — a tradition which represents the opposite of the more recently-introduced geometrical methods.

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Liu Hui, Yin Lei, Wang Fang



1. The Editorial Commission of Chorography of the city construction system of Xi’an, The Chorography of the City Construction System of Xi’an : The Part of the Yuan-lin Lv-hua, 2002, pp. 328-331 西安市城建系统方志编 ����� 纂委员会, « 西安市城建系统志 » “城市建设志 — 园林绿化”, 2002 年. 2. The Committee of the City Construction, Bureau of Statistics, The General Investigation of the Civil Public Facility in Xi’an : The Part of the Yuan-lin Lv-hua, 1996, p.104, 西安市建设委员会 西安统计局, « 西安市政公用设施 普查 » “园林绿化部分”, 1996 年. ����� 3. The Editorial Commission of the Chorography of Xi’an, The Chorography of Xi’an, Part II, the Urban Basic Establishment : Yuan-lin Lv-hua, The Publishing House of Xi’an, 2000.09, p. 289 西安市地方志编纂委员 « 西安市志——第二卷 ・城市基础设施 » “园林绿化”, 西安出版社 :� 2000 年9月. 4. The Department of City Construction of the Ministry of the Construction, The Course of the City Lv-hua : The Collection of the Important Documentations on City Lv-hua since 1949, the Press House of the Beijing Forestry University, 1992.12 建设部城建司, 城市绿化历程——建国以来城 1992 年12月. 市绿化重要文件汇编, 北京林业大学印刷厂,����� 5. The Editorial Commission of the “the Urban Construction in Modern Xi’an”, The urban construction in modern Xi’an, Shaanxi People’s Publishing House, Jan. 1988, p.165�. 6. Wang Jubao, Lv-hua in Xi’an, Shaanxi Science & Technology Publish House, 1989.02 王聚保主编,西安绿化,陕西科学技术出版社, 1989年2月. 7. The Development of the Section of Lv-hua Construction Management in Xi’an, 1991.10 西安市绿化工程管理处处史, 1991年10月. 8. The Committee of the City Construction, The Construction of Xi’an 1949-1999, 1999 西安市建设委员会, 西安城市建设1949-1999 : 综述部分, 1999 年. 9. The Bureau of the Relic and Yuan-lin of Xi’an, Green Melody — Xi’an City Greening, 2000.04 西安市文物园林管理局编制, 绿色的旋律——西安城 市绿化, 2000年4月. 10. Zhang Jinqiu, From Tradition towards the Future — the Explorations of an Architect, Shaanxi Science & Technology Publish House,1992.12 张锦秋, 从传统走向未来——一个建筑师的探索, 陕西科学技术出版社, 1992年12月.

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Harald Høyem

Housing policy and urban pattern Housing development in Xi’an 1949 – 2000

Housing policy and urban pattern

When Mao Tse Tung announced the new era from the Tien An Men balcony on 1 st October 1949, China was facing a future of heavy labour to improve all sectors of society. After 12 years of armed conflict — first against the Japanese and then in the civil war — a state of misery prevailed throughout the country. The enthusiasm and optimism of the Chinese people, paired with the natural and man-made resources of the country, were the main assets in China’s development from a state of misery, through a state of poverty (as the Swedish writer Jan Myrdal put it), towards a state of “relatively comfortable life for everyone by the year 2000” (as expressed by Deng Xiao Ping). The urban housing sector of 1949 was characterised by deteriorated living conditions, serious overcrowding, and a massive housing shortage. The post-1949 periods studied here fall into the following categories: 1949 – 1957 1958 – 1965 1966 – 1978 1978 – 1985 1985 – 1991 1991 – 2000

Covered by the first Five-Year Plan The Great Leap Forward The Cultural Revolution The beginning of reform and opening-up policies Planned commodity economy period Early period of socialist market economy

This article does not discuss this categorisation, but takes it instead as a potent starting point for characterising the various shifts in housing policy, which can then be applied to study the effect of these developments on the urban pattern of Xi’an. In order to detect this effect, it is necessary to describe each period, focusing on the physical characteristics of housing types, their configuration, and their juxtaposition with other elements of the urban tissue. 1949 – 1957. The first Five-Year Plan period of the new republic Before the first Five-Year Plan (1953–1958) was introduced, no special policy for housing development existed. The political bodies were preparing for a “production first, livelihood second” society. In accordance with the Soviet Union model, heavy industry was given highest priority ; social welfare provisions were to be kept at a common minimum level. However, even though housing

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was supposed to constitute a low standard welfare subsidy, housing districts still constituted the major part of the urban growth. In order to transform cities of consumption into cities of production, industrial premises and other work units were located in a rational relation to the transport system, and the residential areas were located near the work units to reduce commuting time and make full use of municipal infrastructures, thus forming autonomous entities in the urban context. This pattern was easier to complete on virgin land (i.e. in suburban outskirts) than in older parts of the city, because the state of the economy did not allow for the removal of any built environment that might be utilised in the near future — virtually irrespective of the buildings’ existent, often extinct, qualities. Based on a “cell” consisting of a staircase surrounded by housing units, six standards for six regions in China were developed. At the beginning of the period, the sizes of the housing units followed Soviet standards. However, these turned out to be too expensive for the average Chinese family. The consequence was that several families shared a single housing unit. The prevailing type of building was slabs oriented east-west, but perimeter blocks were also built. The building style developed under the label of “Socialist content and national form” was characterised by traditional big roofs and Soviet style elevations, combined with Western and Chinese style decorations. Appointed a strategic city of national importance in the first Five-Year Plan, Xi’an followed roughly the same pace of development as the country as a whole. As a consequence of its status, the central government paid a good deal of attention to the city, both through financial investments and through planning consultant work. Consultants from the Soviet Union based in Beijing influenced the planning in the first years. Later developments show that the first Master Plan for Xi’an had a major impact on the subsequent plans: it established the industrial areas to the east and the west of the old city, connected by transport systems along east-west axes, and cultural infrastructures (mainly the universities) to the south. The fact that in 1983, 77.1 per cent of all university students in Shaanxi Province attended a university in Xi’an bears witness to its growing importance in the educational programmes of the province. Housing areas were partly located inside the city walls ; and partly outside the city walls in satellite towns surrounding the

industrial production units that were established there. The following survey of industrial growth rates in Xi’an is a good illustration of industrialisation’s heavy impact on the city:

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Average Annual Growth Rate of Industries in Xi’an (Gross Output, Based on 1980 Fixed Value),1949-82 Planning Period

Average Annual Growth Rate (%)

Post-War reconstruction (1949-52) First Five-Year Plan (1953-57) Second Five-Year Plan (1958-62) Readjustment Period (1963-65) Cultural Revolution (1967-76)

28.3 26.0 8.4 24.7 5.7

Based on Almanac of China’s Economy (Hong Kong: Almanac of China’s Economy Company, 1984)

In 1981 half the population (51.5 %) was employed in the manufacturing sector, which gives additional indication of Xi’an’s importance as an industrial city.

1958 – 1965. The Great Leap Forward It was a common feature of Chinese cities during this period that satellite cities were developed as an answer to further urbanization and industrialization. The urban People’s Communes became basic units of organisation and production, gaining greater autonomy and becoming more self-contained — even in terms of food supply — and taking on more collective functions. Collective housing was tried out, and new types of housing were developed–types that differed from the slab forms. The area standard was adjusted to the economic realities, adopting 4 square metres per person as the average standard. This adjustment made it possible for a family to occupy a housing unit on their own. In order to reduce the pressure on farmland, buildings were built deeper and higher, and the standard distance between them was shortened. The building of “high-standard” dwellings was criticised by the central authorities, leading to the use of cheap and simple building materials in housing construction. Xi’an was faced with a special situation during this period. After the diplomatic break with the Soviet Union, China feared the possibility of a Third World War and

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Housing policy and urban pattern

Inside the city wall the old courtyard tissue was dominant. Due to the lack of capital available for housing purposes, this pattern was maintained, but in a condensed version which allowed more families low-cost accommodation within the area. Outside the city wall, the new housing projects conformed to the national policy for the new China, which was still “Production first, livelihood second”. The housing structure in these areas was thus related to the production units, and to the new transport arteries that surrounded the blocks and connected them to the overall urban pattern. A new phenomenon in this period was the demolition of courtyard houses in the southern parts of the inner city and their replacement by four- to seven-storey blocks of flats. 1966 – 1978. The Cultural Revolution and its period of influence Urban planning was stopped for a long period of time during the Cultural Revolution. There was a severe housing shortage during its first years, both concerning the number of flats, the housing area available per family, and the sanitary standards. Modification of existing structures was the only construction activity carried out. In the second half of this period, standards improved, and high-rise and prefabricated buildings were introduced in China’s biggest cities, although not yet in Xi’an.

decided to duplicate infrastructures considered exposed to hostile attack in the coastal areas (e.g. in Shanghai) by moving or establishing crucial production and educational infrastructures in inland China. This strategic manoeuvre gave an extra boost to the urban development inland and caused substantial growth in Xi’an. The production units developed in the eastern and western parts of Xi’an, the many university units in the southern suburbs of the city–thus enforcing the implementation of the 1954 Master Plan.

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1978 – 1985. The beginning of reform and opening-up policies From 1978 onward, a gradual transformation of the housing policy took place in China: from being regarded as a welfare issue, housing came to be seen as a market commodity. Real estate companies were established and took part as independent actors in urban development. Residents bought their dwellings from the work units on favourable terms, subsidised by the local government and the enterprise. The housing shortage was severe after the decade-long Cultural Revolution with its low production of dwellings. High-density patterns (high-rise buildings, narrow courtyards etc.) were designed and used as a response to the high pressure on urban land. Raised median incomes led to a demand for better-quality housing, in terms of the dwelling units as well as in the layout of the housing areas. So-called experimental housing was tried out in many other provinces to investigate possible alternatives to the monotonous row-house patterns that prevailed in the urban housing areas.

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Harald Høyem

1985 – 1991. Planned commodity economy period Urban growth exploded during the 1985-1991 period. Whereas migration to cities and towns had been subject to strict control by the government up to the mid-1980 s, new legislation now opened up possibilities for rural surplus workers to enter the cities. Real estate companies gained more economic power, and their responsibilities were extended to encompass a more comprehensive development of the housing areas, including parking facilities, better traffic differentiation, park areas, storage space, etc. The gap between well-off and poor households increased. Variations in dwelling size standards were formalised (Small, Medium, Large) officially to meet the different needs of the various families, but in practice also as a consequence of the differences in income levels among the households. A move away from standard designs in search of more variation is an accurate description of what happened during this period–at least at the more expensive sites. Xi’an’s provincial status was evident both in this and in the following period: when the central government turned its attention to the coastal cities and the SEZs (Special Economic Zones), the inland regions were neglected, both politically and economically. This neglect led in turn to a local housing policy which was more or less a continuation of the policies developed under Soviet Union influence, and one which deviated from the rapid proliferation of the market economy taking place in other regions of China.

unemployment was on the increase, due to the closing down of old-fashioned factories and the downsizing of public units. All this affected the development of housing areas: most of the courtyard areas (except the protected ones) were demolished, reducing the population of the inner city ; and in the southern and northern suburbs new housing areas, partly low-cost, partly high-cost, were developed. High-rise housing was still rather rare in Xi’an, perhaps as a result of the master plan’s intention of limiting the population within the city’s borders by channelling demographic growth to new satellite towns, thus reducing the pressure on central, urban land. The tendencies of the former period unfolded: the real estate industry exploded, the economy overheated, and the supply of commercial housing exceeded demand. The traditional “four dishes and one soup” clusters, which were designed for a social reality where the neighbourhood committees were the basic units, were abandoned and replaced by freer concepts for the lay-out of the housing areas. High-tech equipment and modern service design gradually started to feature in the organisation of the dwelling units and the outdoor space. The differentiation of housing standards reflecting the big variations in economic ability among residents was formalised, partly to address the unsolved housing problems suffered by low- to medium-income families in the market economy system. The high-income areas become more design oriented, sometimes referring to local building traditions, but more often copying architectural styles from other countries.

1991 – 2000. Early period of socialist market economy It was only in the 1990 s that market economy dynamics started to play a substantial role in Xi’an, through the investment in urban development and production units by domestic and foreign capital. The second ring road was built, and the so-called “High-Tech” zone was established in the southeastern suburbs of the city. Real estate companies were given extensive room for manoeuvring in the housing market, and focussed political efforts were made to raise rents: the goal set in 1994 was to bring rents up to a level equivalent to 15 percent of the average household income by 2000. Compared with the rent and income ratio of the 1980 s (0.7–1.5), it is evident that the new housing policy imposed severe economic problems on low- and medium-income families. At the same time,

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Fig. 1 Inner city – lowrise structure, congested courtyards. The traditional courtyard transformed to a very narrow access corridor. (Photo H. Høyem, 1989). Fig. 2 Inner city – flats from the early fifties. The corner shows the tendency to close the block with peripheral buildings facing East as well as South, allowing a spatial form different from that of the parallel slabs, which is often the prevailing pattern. (Photo H. Høyem, 2002).

A summary of developments from 1949 to 2000 The large-scale housing production can be characterised by the following evolutionary trends: • From a unified standard to a diversified standard caused by increasing gaps between low- and highincome households ; • From a low to a higher housing standard ; • From monotonous lay-out to increased variety in design ; • From low density to high density ; • After years of congestion the traditional courtyards disappeared and were replaced by higher building structures.

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Housing policy and urban pattern

Fig 3. Western suburb. Flats from the same period situated near a metallurgy factory. The concrete enforcement was added after the earthquake in the mid ‘70 s. (Photo H. Høyem, 2002). Fig 4. Site plan of the same area. Note that the blocks are oriented east-west, not parallel to the “abnormal” road next to the site. In contrast, a newer housing area farther west has located the blocks parallel to the road. (Source : Xianshi Dituji, The Atlas of Xi’an, 1989 : 17)

The urban development of Xi’an since 1949 is closely related to its geographical location. As the capital of the rather poor Shaanxi province, situated inland, a good distance away from the economically expansive coastal region of China, the dual factors of low income and provincial location (in relation to the faster-developing parts of the country) have made a major impact on Xi’an’s patterns of expansion and transformation. National trends in housing design and production are also found in Xi’an, but at different times. In the first period, Xi’an kept pace with the mainstream of the national housing production. Later on, Xi’an followed the main trends, but with a time-delay in comparison to the coastal and southern regions.

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The urban pattern. The influence of the housing models as an integrated part of the planning ideology In order to analyse the development of urban patterns in Xi’an in the light of housing and planning policy, we have simplified the classification applied so far in this article into two periods: the welfare housing period, dominated by a planned economy (1949-1991) ; and the market

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Harald Høyem

housing period, based on a liberalised economy encompassing the production of housing (1991-2000).

traffic arteries running north-south and east-west: with a few exceptions, all the roads are a prolongation of the axes of the Ming and Qing dynasty Inner City, providing the framework for the blocks where production units and housing areas have been formed. Housing areas were located close to the work units and the socio-cultural infrastructures, minimising the transport needs and thus the required capacity of the streets. The new streets, however, were wide enough to accommodate more than just commodity transport: influenced by Soviet Union urban planning ideals of the

1949 – 1991. When studying the principal physical pattern of Xi’an, the constancy of the major elements is striking.[21] Some monuments, such as the City Wall, the Drum and the Bell towers, as well as temples, mosques and pagodas are enduring landmarks. The Tang dynasty, along with the later dynasties, evidently set the perimeters for later development and expansion by establishing the main

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Fig 5. Site plan – western suburb. Housing areas adjacent to several factories. Peripheral buildings follow the street pattern; inside the blocks the internal pattern can vary, containing schools, kindergartens, small factories as well as dwellings. (Source : Xianshi Dituji, The Atlas of Xi’an, 1989 : 21).

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Housing policy and urban pattern

Fig 6. Typical street façade from the same area. The verandas are closed by window additions, giving more floor space and protecting the dwellings from dust and noise from the traffic on the streets. (Photo H. Høyem, 2002). Fig 7. Block interior – the same area. The space between the buildings is regulated by the 1 : 1 rule, saying that the distance between buildings should be at least equal to the height of the block to the south. This rule was later broken in many cases to save urban land and reduce the general costs of the dwelling areas. (Photo H. Høyem, 2002).

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Harald Høyem

Fig 8. Street in a courtyard area. Before the liberalisation of the economy, peddlers took care of the commercial activities in these quiet dwelling areas. Low buildings allowed the roofs to be visible from street level. The roofs were characterised by their protruding eaves that, together with windows in the upper parts of the walls and gates with doors, gave these streets their particular architectural flavour. (Photo H. Høyem, 1985).

1950 s, they were rather monumental. A conception of the grandeur of urban space from imperial times may also have influenced the scale of the new roads constructed during this period. Within the square or rectangular sites formed by the main street structure, the housing areas found their various shapes. A main contradiction was at play, producing different solutions over time: on the one hand, the wish to enclose the blocks with peripheral buildings, which was partly a heritage of the tradition of fencing in all properties with walls, partly an attempt to increase density. On the other hand, the old and rational tradition to give all buildings an east-west direction played its part. Density between buildings varied with the economic capacity and the economic policy of society and of the work unit, giving variation in the urban block tissue. In terms of patterns of use, two characteristics are obvious: socio-cultural activities (schools, kindergartens, meeting halls, playgrounds etc.) were located inside the housing blocks, giving variations in internal design and structure ; and the use of rooms on the ground floor facing the surrounding streets was subject to gradual change, from housing purposes to commercial purposes.

Fig 9. Street in a similar courtyard area. Five years later, commercial activities have exploded. The original architectural elements are barely detectable in the lively street filled with people, their activities, advertisements–all of which are elements affecting all the senses in very intense ways. (Photo H. Høyem, 1990).

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Housing policy and urban pattern

Fig 10. The Bei Lin area still had some low-rise structures left in the late 1990 s. The trees along the streets give shadow and peace in the public space. (Photo H.Høyem, 1999).

The congested courtyards in the old courtyard areas inside the city walls were demolished, providing land for new dwelling structures similar to the ones described above, and allowing a widening of the main streets. Here too, there was a gradual change towards commercial use of the ground floor of buildings facing the streets.

enterprises the design was different: blank surrounding walls faced the streets — often with a guarded entrance gate — buildings were grouped according to a freer pattern, lower density, with park and parking areas inside the premises, and buildings of various shapes and design. Narrow main roads were widened, and the traffic capacity of the wide roads was increased by the removal of the trees originally furnishing the urban space. The old courtyard areas were gradually and totally replaced by new and taller urban structures, with some exceptions in the two Protection areas of the master plans (the Bei Lin and the Drum Tower districts).

1991 – 2000. In this period, several parallel tendencies can be observed: in new housing areas for low and medium-income families, characteristics similar to the ones described above prevailed. In housing areas for high-income families and

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Harald Høyem


Conclusions on urban pattern and form related to changing housing policies Considered as a whole, it transpired that in the period from 1949 to 2000 official housing policies had a great impact on the urban pattern in many respects. These shifting policies, with their respective housing models, put their distinctive mark on the layout inside the blocks designed for housing. They also affected the public urban space between the blocks of houses through the height of these buildings and the space left between them (density), as well as through the shifting ground-floor activities in the buildings facing the street. They did not, however, affect the large scale axes and street patterns of Xi’an. Towards the end of this period, it was no longer a political requirement that housing areas had to be located in close proximity to the work units. As a consequence, there was an increase in urban traffic, which in turn put pressure on the street system. In order to increase the transport capacity, streets were widened, and trees along the streets were removed. Finally, the old streets–mainly in the Inner City–were subjected to substantial changes in terms of both scale and proportion, thus displaying the most obvious effect of the structural changes caused by the liberalisation of the economy, of which housing policy was an integral part.

Fig 11. High cost area located in a development area of a northern suburb. Totally new architectural forms have found their way into the urban scene–in housing areas and other areas alike. (Photo H. Høyem, 2002). Fig 12. Low cost area, also located in a northern suburb. Here the 1 : 1 rule has not been followed (see figure 7). The result is a narrow and shaded public space with limited environmental qualities. (Photo H. Høyem, 2000).)


Lü Junhua et al., Modern Urban Housing in China – 1840-2000, Munich, Prestel, 2001. Sit, Victor F.S. (ed.). Chinese cities – The Growth of the Metropolis since 1949, London, Oxford University Press, 1985. The Xi’an Master Plan 1995-2020, Xi’an: Xi’an Urban Planning Bureau, Xi’an Urban Planning and Design Institute, 1996. Ya Ping Wang and Cliff Hague, The development and planning of Xi’an since 1949. Planning Perspectives no. 7-1992, New York, Routledge, 1992. Xianshi dituji (A Compilation of Maps of Xi’an City), Xi’an, Publishing Company for Maps of Xi’an, 1989.

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All of the cities and towns of China undergoing rapid growth and development have to deal with their historic and tangible cultural heritage throughout the turbulent processes of modernization. Painful and comprehensive decisions have been made and still are to be taken : what to protect, what to conserve, what to discard of the remaining old buildings and urban tissue ? Why — and also how ? These questions are in no way unknown to any society. The approaches are manifold and divergent in different cultures, and China had to select its own way to meet its own needs and dreams of the good society and the formation of its own identity. There are international ideas and practices to relate to, ideas that have to be coupled with local realities and concepts of protecting cultural heritage, with the intangible aspects of the tangible. Symbolically Xi’an has a crucial position in the identity formation of the nation, being the historic center in which three periods set their respective marks on Chinese civilization : the Qin dynasty which completely unified the state and gave it its name (China), the peaceful and flourishing Han dynasty which gave its name to the Han nationality, and finally the powerful and advanced Tang dynasty when Xi’an was the largest city in the world, a cosmopolitan magnet attracting visitors from many countries at the end of the Silk Road. The memory of these periods are more and more visible in the design of the urban landscape of Xi’an, in the ongoing debates over urban development, and in the marketing of Xi’an intended for tourists and investors. Two main components of the built, cultural heritage are at stake : the monuments and the vernacular architecture, the latter as a “monument” per se, as well as the context of a “regular” monument. Within this inhabited cultural heritage compromises have to be found — and endured — which may be one reason why legislation for protecting traditional buildings or urban fabric has been weaker and less clearly articulated. Tourists and investors attracted to Xi’an give funds for the maintenance and development of the monuments, but are also open to cynical speculations threatening the values and the originality of the monuments, as well as to competition for the use of valuable urban terrain. The concept of cultural heritage is discussed in Bruno Fayolle Lussac’s article, which also demonstrates the extensive volume of monuments in and outside of Xi’an. The archaeological sites are explicitly described, and the relationship to the overall urban planning and development is thoroughly described and analyzed. The monument in its context as a specific problem is described in its principles and by two case studies in the articles by Eir Grytli and Harald Høyem. The idea of the monument as an integrated element of the

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Xi’an – an ancient city in a modern world

urban context is opposed to the idea of the monument as a showcase object in the two case studies which are analyzed : The Bell Tower and The Great Mosque. Xi’an has played the role of a cosmopolitan metropolis in the course of history, with a peak period during the Tang dynasty as the terminal of the Silk Road, receiving impulses from diverse cultures throughout the Euro-Asian world. The Muslim minority in Xi’an, the Hui people, represents a very interesting population in having a long history there, in inhabiting a specific area which has been designated as a “protection area” in the overall city plans (the Drum Tower District), and in being the Muslim minority which, on national scale, is the most intimately integrated with the Han Chinese culture. Two articles are devoted to the Hui settlements. Jean-Paul Loubes analyses how the basic urban structure of the city has been used, modified and transformed by its residents over time, creating a new vernacular within the open framework of the grid city. Harald Høyem discusses permanence and change in the Muslim Drum Tower District, referring to changes in state policies (economic and private ownership), in the condition of minorities, and in technology and concepts of form. The final article in this chapter is Xiao Li’s homage to the classical Zhengxue Street. Originally in the vicinity of the Confucian Zhengxue Academy of the 16 th century, the street called the Writing-Brush-Store Street by the Xi’an populace later developed into a stone plate-printing center. The street has been carefully surveyed and documented by the Xi’an University of Architecture and Technology, but has more or less vanished in the urban renewal of the last decade. As she writes : “We tried to find the beauty and value of the street in spite of its state of dirty confusion — which made it seem rundown in the eyes of many people — and to imagine a rosy future for it time and time again.”

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Bruno Fayolle Lussac

Bruno Fayolle Lussac

State listed monuments and stakes of urban development The case of the great archaeological sites [1]

1. For this topic, see in particular : Fresnais, Jocelyne, Au regard de l’histoire contemporaine : la protection du patrimoine culturel en République Populaire de Chine, thesis of the EHESS, April 1990 ; idem, La protection du patrimoine en République populaire de Chine 1949-1999, Paris, CTHS, 2001. Fayolle Lussac, Bruno : “Identité culturelle, patrimoine, et enjeux du tourisme à Xian, Chine”, Review of the research network Architure/Anthroplogy, no. 2, 1997, pp. 93-128 ; idem, “Le patrimoine comme enjeu du développement

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urbain : le cas de Xi’an”, in : Gravari-Barbas, Maria and Guichard-Anguis, Sylvie (ed.), Regards croisés sur le patrimoine dans le monde à l’aube du XXIe siècle, Paris, University Press Paris-Sorbonne, 2003, pp. 643-660. Several articles on the subject are published in : Erring, Bjørn, Høyem, Harald, Vinsrygg, Synnova, (ed.) The Horizontal Skyscraper, Trondheim, Tapir Academic Press, 2002, from the proceedings of two sessions of the conference on the rehabilitation and the development of the old districts of the Chinese and European

Cities (1995-1996) : Renewal and Development in Housing Areas of Traditional Chinese and European Cities Proceedings, 2 vols., Trondheim, 1995-1996 (duplicates). Ren Weihui, La ville à l’intérieur du rempart. La protection du patrimoine et de l’amélioration de la ville historique en Chine : le cas de la ville de Xi’an, thesis of urban studies, Paris EHESS, 2 vols., April 1998. Zhang Liang, La naissance du concept de patrimoine en Chine XIXe-XXe siècles, Paris, Archithèses Ed. Recherches / IPRAUS, 2003. Urban form of


The new orientations of the reform policy of 1978 regarding decentralization, the socialist market economy and a certain financial autonomy of the local governments, also took the issue of cultural heritage into account. This explains the specificity of the master plans for Xi’an of 1980 and 1995. The ensuing urban renewal that represented the changing attitude of the leaders was particularly beneficial to regional metropolises like Xi’an, considered as poles of modernization and economic development of international interest. The national and local policies of cultural heritage, within a context of interregional competition on a national scale,[2] were confronted with the contradictions of a rapid urbanization ; consequently a search for images suggestive of a modernity considered attractive to foreign investors was undertaken to ensure its protection. One of the consequences of the modernization of the regional metropolises in the 1980 s directly concerned the management of the architectural and urban cultural heritage, insofar as the forms of urban development were too often conceived in terms of modernity — which implied the destruction of the inherited city. Since the 80 s, within the framework of the development of tourism, the “officialized” cultural heritage was perceived as an element of urban marketing and presumed to be attractive, in particular with respect to foreign clients. The capital of a particularly rich province from the standpoint of historical geography (sites of ancient royal and imperial capitals), the city of Xi’an was confronted with the burden of a historical and archaeological past from the very beginning of the 1950 s, on the occasion of the elaboration of its first master plan. The discovery in 1974 of the terracotta army of Qin Shihuangdi some thirty kilometers east of Xi’an was a remarkable event and stimulated a sudden awareness of the importance of the cultural heritage.[3] The international fame of the site (listed by the UNESCO in 1987) obviously represented a crucial factor in the strategies aimed at enhancing the cultural heritage in the urban area of Xi’an and developing the image and attractiveness of the city from the 80 s on. In the case of Xi’an, the implementation of these strategies showed the state of the power relations in this field ; between the government (State/province), operators, experts and population, leading too often to the “destruction-restoration” of the listed urban cultural heritage on the provincial and local levels.[4] The classification by the State of historic buildings and major archaeological sites

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State listed monuments

Legend 1. Big Goose Pagoda (Dayanta) 2. Little Goose Pagoda (Xiaoyanta) 3. City Wall 4. Forest of Steles (Beilin) 5. Banpo archaeological site 6. Epang Palace archaeological site 7. Han Chang’an archaeological site 8. Daming Palace archaeological site 9. Site of the Xi’an Incident 10. Ancient Bureau of the 8 th army 11. Great Mosque 12. Sui, Tang city archaeological site 13. Qinglong Temple archaeological site 14. Baqiao Bridge site 15. Bell Tower 16. Drum Tower

Fig. 1. Map of cultural relics in the Xi’an urban area

the City of Xi’an, and the associated research of Japan and China (Guanyu Zhongguo Xi’an Chengshi Jingguan de Xingsheng ji Yindao de Rizhong Gongtong Yanjiu), Association of Research of Landscapes of Kyoto, (research report), 1991.10. 2. Sanjuan, Thierry, La Chine, Territoire et Société, Paris, Hachette, 2000, pp. 57-67. 3. Fresnais 2001, p. 110. 4. These distinctions were defined in 1982, article 7 : units of protection at the local level, at the regional level (province, municipality, autonomous area) and units of heritage protection at the national level : Fresnais, Jocelyne, 1998, pp. 546-547.

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of ancient capitals was a safeguard measure. But, since the end of the 1980 s, these sites became more and more enclosed by the spreading out of the urban areas, and this constituted a specific issue because of the size of their territory on the scale of the development plans.

A problematic concept of cultural heritage The concept of cultural heritage, as we already know, covers in the traditional Chinese culture a different reality : that of an essentially immaterial cultural heritage corresponding to a historical past, founded on memory and its transmission. This is why literature — that other

monument of Chinese culture — is so important. The rebuilding in an architectural style similar to the original has the same value, because “the object can be a building, but the subject is the memory”.[5] This view attributes a sense of authenticity more to the image than to the material reality asserting the physical age of the object. Here, we may indicate an essential difference between the old mnemonic arts in China and Europe : a mnemonic palace in China would be made of words, whereas in the West it would be made of particular images.[6] The modern meaning of cultural heritage corresponds to a Western invention whose material content took shape during the 20 th century (historic monuments). Since 1830, in the case of France, it has been based on a system of values of history and art that would be specific to each nation. From the second part of the 20 th century on, this concept was generally recognized and extended to include the entire environment.[7]

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Legend 1. Xingjiao Temple Pagoda (Chang’an district) 2. Feng and Hao archaeological sites (Chang’an district) 3. Qin Shihuang archaeological mausoleum site (Lintong district) 4. Lantian Man archaeological site (Lantian county) 5. Lishan Mountain (picturesque site) (Lintong district) 6. Jiangzhai Hao archaeological site (Lintong district) 7. Huaqing Pool (Lintong district) 8. Shuilu Temple (Lantian county) NB : one site is lacking : Fawangta Pagoda (Zizhou county) : isolated at the western frontier of the municipality

Fig. 2. Map of cultural relics in the Xi’an municipality.

In China, the awareness of these concepts of cultural heritage and historic monuments was part of the forced encounter between two distinct ideas of architecture : the Chinese (considered “ahistorical”) and the Western (aware of “historicity”).[8] This instigated Chinese architects, at least since the beginning of the 20 th century, to change their look at their building tradition and to reexamine in particular the traditional building manual of “Yingzao fashi”(published in 1103, under the Northern Song dynasty).[9] Thus, as Zhang Liang emphasized, the invention of the historic monument partakes of Chinese modernity since the 1930 s, and the desire to redefine what was characteristic of Chinese culture also included considering certain buildings as “monuments”.[10] Here we witness an inversion of ideas, at least with regard to architecture, since this normally perishable object — from the point of view of traditional thought — becomes another sacrosanct object according to a national benchmark

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evaluating the historical authenticity of the building. From the 1950 s on, this concept of the material authenticity of architecture and urban form imported from the West, together with the development of a Chinese doctrine of historic buildings in the period between the wars, would constitute the basis of regulations to protect the built cultural heritage and, from the beginning of the 1980 s, the ancient cities and districts. It was in a willful context of modernization that the risk of cultural loss gave substance to the idea of safeguarding the Chinese cultural heritage, the witness of a long historical past and a source of identity-building and national cohesion. But from the very first regulations, the intention to preserve intensified the obligation to include the safeguarded properties in the planning, in particular by integrating them into the green spaces or “in another, more appropriate form of planning to safeguard and use them”.[11]

5. Leys, Simon, L’Humeur l’honneur l’horreur Essais sur la culture et la politique chinoise, Paris, Robert Laffont, 1991 ; idem : “les Chinois et leur passé”, Chine, Guides Bleus, Paris, 1989, pp. 75-85. Bellocq, Maylis, Le patrimoine culturel en République populaire de Chine, Master’s paper, University of Bordeaux III, 1998. Zhang Liang, 2003, pp. 9-23. 6. Spence, Jonathan D., Le palais de mémoire de Matteo Ricci, Paris, Payot, 1986 (1 st ed. 1986), pp. 15-35. Concerning the Western sources : Yates, Frances, L’art de la mémoire, Paris, Gallimard, 1975 (1 st ed. 1969).

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7. For instance : Jeudy, Henri-Pierre, La machinerie patrimoniale, Paris, Sens et Tonka, 2001. 8. Flechter, Sir Bannister Flight, in the fourth edition (1901) of : A History of Architecture (first edited in 1896, with his father, Bannister), divides this book in two parts : the first concerning the “Historical Styles“ (Western countries) and the second, the “NonHistorical Styles“ (among others : Indian, Chinese, Japanese…) cf. Musgrove John (ed.), Sir Bannister Flechter’s, A History of Architecture, London, The RIBA and The University of London, (19 th edition), 1987, p. xvii. 9. Li Shiqiao, “Reconstituting Chinese Building Tradition The Yingzao fashi in the Early Twentieth Century”, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians (JSAH), no. 62, 2003, pp. 470489 : in fact this manual, always used under the Ming dynasty (13681644), was rediscovered and reprinted in 1919, then in 1925 by Zhu Qiqian (id., pp. 474, 477). See also Shatzman Steinhardt, Nancy, “China : Designing the Future, Venerating the Past”, JSAH, no. 61, 2002, pp. 537548 ; p. 537. 10. For the concepts of “monument”, “urban heritage” : see Zhang Liang, 2003, in particular pp. 96-98, 302, 306. 11. “Communiqué du Conseil d’Etat au sujet de la protection du patrimoine dans le cadre du développement agricole”, art. 2, published in 1956, translated by Fresnais, J., 1998, p. 496.

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Dispersion and concentration of national monuments in the Guanzhong In 1949, the city was as foreign travelers described and old photographs showed it to be. Since the 18 th century, foreign travelers spoke about a low fortified city protected by ramparts and four monumental gates.[12] The only memory of its long history were the rare remnants of the road system of the capital of the Tang (Chang’an), the large archaeological site northwest of the walls of the capital of the Han and some monuments on the outskirts ; like the Big Wild Goose (Dayanta) and Small Wild Goose (Xiaoyanta) pagodas built under the Tang. Some buildings bearing the marks of successive restorations, mainly from the Ming and Qing dynasties, like the Bell and Drum Tower gates, some temples and the Mosque resisted inside the city. However, interest in the cultural heritage appeared under the Republic at the time of the occupation of Xi’an by the Kuomintang troops, and was manifested by founding the Museum of Steles in the Temple of Confucius. The museum accommodates (since 1990) the “Forest of Steles” in order to conserve the texts of the classical authors.[13] On the occasion of this restoration, Liang Sicheng built an exhibition building on the site of the great temple hall (1936-1938). From 1944 until 1992 the expanded museum also displayed the collections of the provincial museum. The city, taken by the Communists on the 20 th of May 1949, became a provincial capital in June 1954. In 1948, the Communists had created a Cultural Heritage Department that was dependent on the Military Affairs Committee. The concept of a “collective national heritage” (Wenwubu) appeared at the time of the creation of the Republic (1 st October 1949) and, since 1953, the selection of the identified sites was directed towards “areas of well-known vestiges” (Zhongyao gu yizhidiqu). In the context of the first Five-Year plan (1953-1957), Shaanxi, like other areas of the Northwest, was the object of investigations intended to select and safeguard particularly important cultural vestiges ; like the ruins of the capitals of the Han (Chang’an) and of the Zhou (Feng and Hao) around the city of Xi’an.[14]

State listed monuments

But the question of the protection of the ancient city emerged only in 1950, at the time of the development of the master plan of Beijing within the framework of the Sino-Soviet cooperation. The prevailing vision was that of an industrial socialist city, and this entailed in particular the demolition of the ramparts.[15] At the same time, the ramparts and the four gates of the ancient city of Xi’an were not only saved, but they constituted the matrix of the form and the scale of the new plan — and this starting with the first drafts of the Master Plan of 1950. In 1961, the first list of “protected cultural heritage sites of national importance” was issued, while the first Master Plan of Xi’an was approved in 1954. In fact, the plan anticipated this classification by integrating the listed monuments and sites in the definition of the urban frame of the modern city.[16] Of the 21 sites listed in the province of Shaanxi, 11 were situated in areas within the jurisdiction of the municipality of Xi’an. In Xi’an itself, only the ramparts and the Forest of Steles were listed monuments — a fact that certainly attested to their importance — while the urban fabric remained subject to the projects of modernization envisioned by the plan. Outside the walls, on the great site of the capital of the Tang, two pagodas (Big Wild Goose and Small Wild Goose, respectively 8 and 3 km to the south) were included in the first Master Plan, as was the Neolithic site of Banpo in the east (with museum) whose fortuitous discovery during the construction of industrial buildings fit particularly well in the framework of the plan. At the time, the large protected archaeological zones in the northwest and the west were agricultural areas : the site of the capital of the Han, Chang’an, in the northwest, was an “urbanizable” area on the periphery according to the plan envisioned in 1954, whereas the site of Daming Palace in the northeast was already partly enclosed by an industrial park to the north of the railway. The sites of the Epang Palace (Qin) and the capitals of the Zhou (Feng, Hao) were located in rural areas.[17] The rampart appeared already in the captions of the first Master Plan of 1953 and constituted a major element in the definition of the structure of centrality in the modern city, as shown in the development project of the southern gate. On the scale of the province, the sub-region of Guanzhong as a whole — “the territory between the passes” — was favored with 17 sites, including major archaeological sites (imperial tombs) of the ancient dynasties (Qin, Han and Tang) on the northern slopes of the Wei valley.

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Fig. 3. Han Chang’an site (terrace of Weiyang palace) (2002, by the author) Fig. 4. Han Chang’an site: road crossing the site from east to west (2002, by the author).

We have to await a new political context starting in 19771978 for the question of cultural heritage to become a national economic and cultural issue, especially in anticipation of the development of tourism. This issue was a particularly sensitive subject for Xi’an and the Shaanxi because of the impact of the discovery in 1974 of the terracotta army in the necropolis of Qin Shihuangdi in Lintong. This discovery of worldwide importance appeared like a signal that marked the end of the dark years of the Cultural Revolution. The sad balance of that period in Xi’an, published in that same year by Simon Leys,[18] was officially recognized for the whole of the territory in a report issued by the National Infrastructure Council and the National Office of Cultural Heritage Administration in 1980, in the context of the development of the sixth Five-Year plan (1981-1985).[19] The second list of “protected cultural heritage sites of national importance” of February 23, 1982 was opportunely published during the preparation of the second Master Plan, which was approved in 1983. The national campaign of ideological retrieval of the civil war period and the Sino-Japanese War manifested itself locally in the

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consecration of the site of the Xi’an Incident (December 12-13, 1936) in the southeastern part of the ancient city. However, the protection of the isolated prehistoric site of the Lantian Man (Pithecanthropus), about 20 km southeast of Xi’an, nourished discussions that justified the importance of Xi’an in the long history of China.[20] The development of urbanization, already felt since the 1970 s, led to a generalization of the master plans at all levels of the agglomerations. The expectancy of a rapid development of tourism, promoted by a policy of decentralization and implemented at the beginning of the 1980 s, pushed many cities to integrate this new opportunity in the orientations of their development.[21] On the occasion of the elaboration of this second list of 1982, the special status of the famous cities was defined. It concerned cities that presented a particularly rich cultural heritage, historical value or a very important revolutionary significance. This status was the sign of an official awareness of the concept of urban cultural heritage.[22] In February 1982, on the first list of 24 cities “listed for their historical and cultural aura”, the walled city of Xi’an (no. 23) was mentioned for its historical value : “[a] former commercial town in close relation with the Western regions. The terracotta warriors inspire the curiosity of tourists throughout the world. The multiplicity of its monuments offers the visitors a historic summary of Chinese civilization : from the Neolithic site of Banpo, the Forest of Steles, the vestiges of the Han city, the pagoda of the Big Wild Goose, the Drum tower, to the ramparts of the Qing city”. Another city in the province was also selected, but this was because of its role in the history of the Revolution and the Sino-Japanese War.[23] In 1985, because of a conflict over illegal building projects on the site of Lishan Mountain in Lintong, it was listed as a “picturesque site” ; this revealed the fragility of the cultural heritage sites that constituted major tourist or speculative stakes.[24] The Headquarters of the 8 th army and the Great Mosque, both in the western part of the Ming city, were listed in 1988.[25] In 1996, the fourth list, which classified the entire archaeological site of the capital of the Tang, was drawn up too late, since the master plan envisioned the destruction of more than 80 % of the built environment of the Ming city and there was no policy of systematic preventive archaeology. The classification of the Bell and Drum towers intervened while the development project of a public square was already under construction, placing


12. For old views, see for example : Jia Pingao, Old Xi’an Evening Glox of an Imperial City, Beijing, Foreign Languages Press 2001. See also an aerial view (SD), published by Gutkind in : Revolution of Environment, London, Kegan, 1946. As examples of old descriptions of Xi’an : in the 17 th century by Du Halde, in the 18 th century by Louis Lecomte, in the 19 th century in particular by Oswald Siren. 13. The Forest of Steles was created at the request of Emperor Wenzong in 837, in order to safeguard (definitively) the classical authors : Drège, Jean-Pierre, Les bibliothèques en Chine au temps des manuscrits, Paris, Publications de l’Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient, vol. CLXI, Paris, 1991, p. 68. 14. Fresnais 2001, pp. 80-81. 15. Zhang Liang, 2003 ; pp. 129-141. 16. See Album, plates 17, 27. 17. Shaanxi : no. 23 – Revolutionary site of Yan’an and pagoda of the temple Lingshan (revolutionary emblem) (Yan’an district) ; no. 57 – cliffside Stone inscriptions and Stone gate at Baoxie Road, Han dynasty (Hanzhong district) ; no. 162 – Huangdiling (tomb of the Yellow Emperor), Qin dynasty (Huangling district) ; 165 – Maoling (tomb of Han Wudi) ; no. 166 – Huo Qubingling (Xingping district) Western Han dynasty ; no. 170 – Zhaoling, Tang dynasty : the museum of the necropolis, near the tomb of Emperor Taizong, 70 km. from Xi’an, opened in 1979 and is used as a lapidary storehouse (Qianxian district) ; no. 171 – Qianling (Qianxian district), Tang dynasty ; no. 172 – Shunling, tomb of Yang She, (Qianxian district), Tang dynasty.

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(in Fresnais 2001, pp. 561, 574, 575). City of Xi’an : no. 63 – Dayanta, Tang dynasty ; no. 64 – Xiaoyanta, Tang dynasty ; no. 104 – Ming wall of the city of Xi’an ; no. 125 – The Forest of Steles, (Beilin) ; no. 139 – Banpo site, Neolithic era (culture of Yangshao) ; no. 151 – Site of the palace A Fang, Qin dynasty ; no. 152 – Site of Chang’an of the Han ; no. 156 – Site of the Daming palace, Tang dynasty (in Fresnais 2001, pp. 565, 569, 572,-574). Municipality : no. 67 – Pagoda of the Xingjiao temple and no. 143 – Feng and Gao, Zhou dynasty (Chang’an district) ; no. 164 – Tomb of Qin Shihuangdi (Lintong district) (in Fresnais 2001, pp. 233, 566, 572, 574). 18. Leys, Simon, Ombres chinoises, Paris, 10/18, 1974, pp. 109-113. 19. Fresnais 2001, p.134, idem,1990 : Appendix no. 4, pp. 521528 : “Since more than ten years, the deteriorations and the important upheavals occasioned by the ultra-leftism of Lin Biao and the Gang of Four constitutes a disaster in the history of the vestiges of the cultural heritage and the ancient Chinese buildings. A large number of sites are damaged or occupied, the monuments underwent serious deteriorations.”

State listed monuments

the two towers face to face. The protection of the Baqiao Bridge, 10 km northeast of the city, did not pose a particular problem : at the time, this work of art seemed to be marginalized from the tourist point of view.[26] On the other hand, the county of Lintong in the east became a strategic sector when it came to the issue of tourist development and the protection of cultural heritage. The site of the tumulus of Qin Shihuangdi, protected, as we saw, since 1961, and voted by plebiscite since the discovery of the Terracotta Army in 1974, was listed as a World Heritage site in 1987. The classification of Lishan Mountain in 1985, then of the Neolithic site of Jiangzhai and the vestiges of the palace of Huaqinggong (imperial thermal baths and park) in 1988 consolidated the international importance of this area as far as tourism was concerned. From 1949 to 1996, the State classification of monuments re-expressed at the provincial level the primacy of the sub-region of Guanzhong and the municipality of Xi’an in the construction of a regional identity based on history. Of the 55 monuments and archaeological or picturesque sites listed in the whole territory of Shaanxi, 42 were located in the Wei Valley (including the imperial and aristocratic funerary complexes of the Han and the

sites are located on the territory of the municipality and it benefitted from the establishment of the international airport of Xi’an / Xianyang. From an economic point of view, this cultural heritage constitutes an unquestionable asset for the sub-region of Guanzhong and the metropolis. With a development rate of over 70 % in 1994, it already dominates the whole province, whose rate is otherwise relatively weak.[28] The development of the tourist sector benefitted from the favorable location and stimulated projects to develop the sites.[29] However, the development of cultural heritage at a national level and, since the 1980 s, within the framework of the decentralization process[30] also had to reckon at a regional level and on the scale of Xi’an with the 68 provincial monuments listed since 1996, the 230 monuments at the level of the urban districts and the 2,944 monuments and vestiges registered in the Provincial inventory. In the north of the province, a second pole of tourism, famous on a national scale and important to the Chinese diaspora, was formed by the site of the mausoleum of the Yellow Emperor in Huangling, which was listed in 1961.[31] The issue here was highly ideological, for it involved the permanent reconstitution and reinforcement of a feeling of community based on the worship of the memory of one of the mythical emperors and founders of the nation.

Fig. 5. Epang Palace : site from the road (2002, by the author)

Tang) and 25 on the right river bank of the municipality of Xi’an (including 16 in the six districts of Xi’an).[27] The undeniable prevalence of the tourist pole of Xi’an in the heart of the Guanzhong was reinforced because of the importance of the World Heritage label given to the Terracotta Army. The official tourist offer includes most of the dynastic sites in the area (in particular the imperial mausoleums). The town of Xianyang, on the north bank of the Wei, does not seem to be able to compete with the provincial capital, although many archaeological

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Finally, starting in 1980 in the urban area of Xi’an, the status of State-listed monuments and sites created new constraints that were imposed by the successive regulations for the protection and development of the cultural heritage in a context of urban development. This concerned two categories : that of the monuments, material objects that were defined in space and integrated into the framework of the layouts of the master plans ; and that of the major archaeological sites, whose scale required adapting the layout to their configuration. The monuments of the Ming city and the central city inside the third ring road were, for the most part, structuring elements for the cultural and proper image of Xi’an (its “stylistic aspect”) and the stakes of tourism. Starting in the 1980 s [32] they were taken into account — with varying degrees of success — in the policies of the modernization of the city-center and the expansion of a big metropolis of international status, as was demonstrated from the very beginning of the 1990 s.[33] However, the future appears less guaranteed for certain major archaeological sites

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because of the urban development and densification of the central districts. Here, it is the scale of the territory — and sometimes the invisibility of the archaeological structures — that make these sites fragile from the point of view of the demand for land in the urban area.

by the status of the site : surface cultures, habitat without foundations, limited heights of the buildings, restrictions in the implantation of industrial types of activities. But on the Master Plan of 1980, the zone was crossed from west to east by the third ring road, as well as by a transverse road in the direction of the city. On the outline of 1995, this layout disappeared, but this zone was enclosed on three sides by a network of expressways and surrounded in the west and east by two large development areas of the district of Weiyang, then in full expansion at the industrial level. Little by little the archaeological zone was encircled by zones of advanced and industrial technologies.[36] The archaeological site was crossed by a network of minor roads and an expressway from east to west. It was dotted with recently-built illegal buildings and continued to be the object of illicit excavations.[37] It currently constitutes a remarkably well situated land reserve, in direct contact with the new motorway to the international airport of Xianyang planned in 1995. In the absence of an established project and by its scale within the current agglomeration, this site constitutes a green reserve to maintain for the sake of air pollution policies.[38]

20. No. 6 - Site of the Xi’an Incident (17 Jianguo Street) : The building of the 1920 s in the Arts and Crafts style (but covered with a Chinese roof) was a place of negotiation between Chiang Kai-chek, kidnapped by two of his generals, and the regional heads of the Communist Party, with a view to joining forces against the Japanese invader. no. 47 - Paleolithic Site of the Lantian Man (Lantian County), unearthed in 1963. (in Fresnais 2001, pp. 576, 581). See also : Xi’an World Ancient Chinese Capital for over a Thousand Years, Xi’an, Shaanxi People’s Fine Arts Publishing House, 1990, pp. 31-33.

The area of the vestiges of the Epang Palace, about 12 kilometres to the west of the Ming city, in the south of the village of San qiao, on the left bank of the Zhao River, is difficult to reach due to the lack of signboards. From the road of Baoji, the terrace of the palace is masked by a row of constructions and is in an unfavorable environment due to the development of industrial suburbs on both sides of the road ; there is also a dump forming a hill at the accesses and encroaching on the site. The archaeological zone (14 km2) includes several identified, but discontinuous archaeological sites. On the western border of the terrace of the Epang Palace (approximately 500 m by 1,300 m), whose platform is used for agriculture, there is a clay quarry that serves the village and that is “joint owner” with the State of a part of the site. Lastly, the construction along the side of the road leading toward Xi’an, at some distance of a tourist complex in a rudimentary “neo-Qin” style, denies the nearby presence of the archaeological site and offers a devalued image of this style, which is emblematic of the tourist site of the mausoleum of Qin Shi huangdi in Lintong. This palatial site, once described by the historian Siam Qian (145-86 BC) and presented in many literary texts as a remarkable, somewhat extravagant structure, was the subject of somewhat “disappointing” excavations

22. Zhang Liang, 2003, pp. 143-146.

State-protected archaeological areas and urban development : fragile sites and different stakes. The surface area of the five major archaeological sites affected by the urban development of Xi’an corresponds to approximately 77 km2 of confiscated land ; without counting the specific case of the urban subsoil archaeological sites represented by the ancient site of the capital of the Tang and associated structures beyond the walls of the imperial capital.[34] Together this corresponds to 165 km2, that is to say approximately 85 % of the urban surface at the beginning of the new millennium. More concretely, the area of the site of the Chang’an of the Han (34 km2) corresponds to more than three times the surface of the Ming city (11.5 km2). We also wish to mention the site of Banpo (Neolithic culture of Yangshao), a well-known site of about 5 ha. in the east of the city in the district of Baqiao that was discovered in 1953 and excavated from 1954 to 1957. The museum of the site, open to the public since 1958, was integrated in the surrounding districts very early on. In the northwest of the Ming city, the archaeological zone of the Chang’an of the Han is still delimited in certain places by remnants of clay ramparts.[35] The remaining terrace of the foundations of the Weiyang Palace in the southwest of the site, one of the three imperial palaces with those of Changle and Jianzhang (outside the walls of the capital in the west), dominates the landscape, but is hardly kept up. The subsoil of the whole site was protected until now by the implantation of a regulated agricultural zone, occupied in 1999 by a population of approximately 40,000 whose standard of living was rather low because of the constraints imposed

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21. Xu Gang, Tourism and Local Economic Development in China, Case Studies of Guilin, Suzhou and Beidaihe, Richmond, Curzon Press, 1999, pp. 1629 ; Fresnais 2001, pp. 146-153.

23. Fresnais 2001, pp. 160-161 ; id. 1990, pp. 643-644. For the province, the city of Yan’an (no. 24) acted as political center of the CCP (1937-1947), Museum of the Revolution, opened in 1958, house of Mao Zedong, Hall of Representatives, Headquarters of the 8 th army. The city of Hancheng (city near the Sima Qian’s tomb) appears on the 2 nd list in 1986 and Xianyang (city of the Qin Museum) on the 3 rd in 1994 (in Fresnais 2001, p. 161 ; id. 1990, pp. 644, 649). 24. No. 42, on the first list of 44 picturesque sites (in Fresnais 2001, pp. 165-167, 380-381 ; idem, 1990, p. 654). 25. Third list of units of secular goods (Jan. 13, 1988) : no. 36 – Old site of the office of the 8 th army from 193…, no. 135 – Great Mosque, Ming epoch (in Fresnais 2001, pp. 177, 180, 586, 594).

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State listed monuments

Fig. 6 Hanyuan hall : restoration project by Liu Dunzhen

Fig. 7 Hanyuan hall : archaeological site in 1996 Fig. 8 Hanyuan hall : restored site in 2006

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26. Fourth list of classification of national monuments (Nov. 20, 1996) of 250 national monuments : 1/ Territory of the city of Xi’an : no. 47 – Vestiges of the Daxing city of Sui and of the city of Chang’an, including the vestiges of Qinglongsi (582-904)… ; no. 49 – Vestiges of the Baqiao Bridge : in the Chunqiu epoch, a first bridge over the Bashui River existed, near the Banpo site. The present bridge is from 583 (Sui) ; no. 161 – Drum Tower (1370) and Clock Tower (1582), Ming epoch, with those of Beijing the most famous of China (in Fresnais 2001, pp. 177-178, 608, 617).

starting in 2002, as it seems that the construction of the palace was left unfinished.[39]  Others sites outside the capital could be the object of excavations, like Mingtang in 1956-57, on the occasion of a construction project, but at that time there was no possibility of preserving the site for future research.[40] The two large listed sites of the capital of the Tang left their imprint on the city of today : the Daming Palace, currently enclaved in the northeast of the Ming city, has just been restored. With the modern agglomeration, the territory of the largest capital in the world (the Chang’an of the Tang dynasty), on which the successive cities since the 10 th century were built (until the fossilization of the Ming city behind its ramparts), is now almost completely covered. The walled site of Daming Palace was built in 662-663 under the reign of Gaozong (654-683) in the northeast of the city beyond the wall, but communicated with the

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city through a large building with five gates (the Danfeng Gate). For that reason it was considered as an urban and not a country palace. The archaeological structures (terraces of the Hanyuan hall and the Linde Palace) are the best preserved portions of the capital of the Tang on the entire site. Restoration efforts revealed the vast scale of the imperial architecture of the Tang : for that reason, since the 1980 s, this fact was regularly invoked to legitimate the vast scale of the major roadway system inside the city (for example, the north-south axis).[41] Indeed, the archaeological digs following the first excavations of the years 1959-1960 permitted restorations to be proposed for the Linde Palace in the northwest, and in particular for the most important, the Hanyuan hall, located along the north-south axis of the complex.[42]  Starting in 1992, then in 1995-1996, the latter was the object of a program of excavations associating the UNESCO, China and Japan, notably with an eye to the restoration project

2/ Municipality of Xi’an : no. 20 – Vestiges of Jianzhai, Neolithic era (comparable to those of Banpo, Lintong district) ; no. 53 – Vestiges of the Huaqing Palace : palace attested in the epoch of the Western Zhou and under the Han, rebuilt by Taizong in 664, enlarged by Xuanzong in 747, burnt down in 756 (Lintong district) ; no. 80 – Fawangta Pagoda of the temple Xianyusi Sui epoch (Zhouzi county) no. 162 –Shuilu temple, Ming epoch, Buddhist temple decorated with statues and paintings, on a peninsula surrounded by rivers (Lantian county)” (in Fresnais 2001, pp. 171-173, 176, 606, 609-610, 617). 27. Fresnais 2001, pp. 248-250. 28. For the geographical importance of Guanzhong and Xi’an, see : Watson, Andrew et al, “Shaanxi : the search for comparative advantage”, in Hendrischke, Hans and Chongyi, Feng (ed.), The political Economy of China’s Provinces, London and New York, Routledge 1999, pp. 73-107.

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On the other hand, it seems that there is still no coherent policy of preventive archaeology that takes into account the entire extent of the archaeological subsoil of the capital of the Tang, whose exact location and limits have been known since the end of the 1950 s.[45] Excavations identified the site of the southern gate of the great city (Mingde Gate), but it is indicated only by a stele lost in the middle of an outdoor billiards grounds. We can thus define the position of the great north-south axis of the capital. In the same way, an archaeological excavation in the 1950 s of Xingqing Palace in the east, close to the walls, provided the opportunity to create a park and a program of architectural restoration.[46] Nor is there a systematic inquiry into the archaeological risks of the constructible zones in the short term, even if requests for a building permit falling under the jurisdiction of the municipal office of cultural relics and gardens are subjected — on a case-by-case basis — to research on the risks of discoveries, based on the information already collected. Meanwhile, from the 1980 s on, the master plans have marked the boundaries of the Tang capital as strips of greenery to evoke the sites of the ancient city walls. More generally, on the scale of the present urban area, the systematic follow-up of construction sites appears to be an overwhelming task, especially in the case of major projects. Sometimes the press reports discoveries that have been the object of emergency excavations, but also of involuntary or deliberate destruction.[47] For obvious economic reasons, should there be a fortuitous discovery, it does not seem conceivable to stop construction — except in the case of a discovery of exceptional importance.[48] Fig. 8. Daming palace site : restored terrace of Huanyuan hall (2006, by the author) Fig. 9. The Hao archaeological site (2002, by the author)

29. In 2000, tourism represented 8 % of the GDP of Xi’an (1,700,000 Chinese tourists and 672,000 foreigners (, March 10, 2003). 30. Sanjuan, Thierry, pp. 62-63.

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(now completed) of the foundation terrace that had been eroded by rain. The accesses to the monument were to be protected in the north by the creation of a large cultural theme park.[43] Recently, two archaeological discoveries came to justify the interest of protecting such a site at a national level : the discovery of the foundations of five gates (Danfeng, the most important vestiges of Chinese antiquity to date, after the great gates of the Forbidden City) and the excavation of Lake Taiye and its accesses (galleries and palatial complex), and more particularly the excavation of the artificial Mount Penglai on an equally artificial island in the middle of the lake.[44]

Distant sites of the urban area : between oblivion and overbidding In the west of Xi’an, the sites of the presumed Western Zhou capital cities Feng and Hao are situated beyond the limits of the urban extension of the beginning of the 1980 s (Album 1, plates 20, 21 and 27). But on the Master Plan of 1995 (Album 1, plate 25), roads with much traffic

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cross the two sites. The risk of an extension of the third peripheral road, crossing the Feng River and separating the two sites (Album 1, plate 44-b) looms on the horizon. On the other hand, the site of Hao leans in the north against new sectors of urbanization. This is a fragile agricultural area, especially since these two sites have already been the object of archaeological excavations. The campaigns turned out to be rather disappointing, for they did not irrefutably confirm their status as capitals,[49] and the site museum that protects the tomb (a burial vault sheltering two carriages and their horses from the Western Zhou) has fallen somewhat into oblivion.[50]

Finally, this report is a reminder of the negative effects of tourist pressure on the management of a site and its environment (problems of air pollution), in particular because of the absence of a master plan.[52] A few kilometers from there, technical studies (1987) have been made to evaluate the risk of a major slope collapse of the protected Lishan Mountain, which dominates the site of Huaqing Palace. In its current state, the risk is a serious one and ultimately endangers the survival of the tourist site.[53]

Finally, about 30 km from Xi’an, to the northeast of the town of Lintong, the mausoleum of Qin Shihuangdi, together with the sites of Huaqing Palace and Lishan Mountain to the southwest of the city, represent a major stake in economic and cultural terms ; that is, Xi’an’s image on the international level. The archaeological prospection since the discovery of the site in 1974 permitted, among other things, the contents of the mausoleum area (2.13 km2) to be determined : it comprises an underground palace in the middle, an inner city and an outer city that are both surrounded by ramparts, as well as many structures (buildings and tombs) and associated archaeological furnishings. The museum of the site, designed at the beginning to show the first discoveries in situ, had to adapt to the randomness of the successive discoveries and to integrate tourist zones and facilities. The archaeological site, benefitting from its status as World Heritage site, became the physical and strategic center of a major development project. These dynamics had repercussions on the management of the two other national listed sites : Huaqing Palace and Lishan Mountain.[51] At the beginning of the new millennium, the province decided to create an archaeological park of 3.2 km2 around the site of the mausoleum, which involved the construction of two new museums. But, in the long run, the largely extended sensitive zone (zone of projected archaeological prospection on 17.5 km2) involved a risk to other areas that were suitable for classification. In 2002, a report of the UNESCO World Heritage Center determined that the sensitive zone corresponded to a total surface area of 56.25 km2. The protective measures presented in the report, also applicable to other monuments on a national level, were inadequate in light of this scenario.

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The presence of these zones of protection and evidently the extension of the sensitive zone around the mausoleum to the edge of the town of Lintong along the road from Xi’an to eastern China puts restraints on urban development. The long-term danger is that these sites will be enclaved by the creation of new urbanized sectors, as shown in the protection and master plans of Xi’an of 1995 (Album 1, plates 25 and 28). In 1995, the town of Lintong was one of the satellite towns situated on the major highway and railway route (marshalling yard of Xinfeng) that links Xi’an to eastern China, and was called the “East Gate” of Xi’an. The realization of a section of the motorway at the beginning of the new millennium had to connect the Lintong development area (Lintong Economic and Technology Development Zone) of the northern high-tech zone (ETDZ) with Xi’an and another zone (Xinze Industrial Park). Arguments based on the presence of the archaeological sites — associated with environmental concerns — were advanced to legitimate projects located on the territory of the zone ; like the “Qin Palace Conference” or the “Center Green Industrial Garden”. In the two cases mentioned, the international reputation of the archaeological sites was supposed to legitimate and enhance the qualitative image of the site in order to attract investors ; for example,“its circumference has beautiful natural sights. The eighth wonder of the world — The museum of Emperor Qin Shuhuang’s Terracotta Warriors and Horses, the famous imperial gardens of the Huaqing Palace of the Tang dynasty, Lishan Mountain Forest Garden, etc., are spread over the place…”. The development plan of the Center Green Industrial Garden was designed according to a well-known model from antiquity : that of a square divided into four equal sectors by two perpendicular axes, a mandatory reference in keeping with the design principles of an ancient capital.[54]


31. Billeter, Térence, “Chine-Nationalisme. Un ancêtre légendaire au service du nationalisme chinois”, Perspectives chinoises, no. 47, 1998, p.46 ff. Fayolle Lussac, Bruno, “Chinese identity as a project : the rebuilding plan of the Yellow Emperor mausoleum in Haung Ling”, Center for Environmental Design Research, Berkeley, University of California, vol. 106, 1998, pp. 43-80 ; Fresnais 2001, pp. 120, 398. 32. Cf. further the article by Grytly, Eir R.and Høyem, Harald. 33. This status was consolidated in 1992, when the city was given the status of free zone of the interior : Chen Guanting, “Modernisation et internationalisation urbaines”, Villes en parallèle Villes chinoises, no. 23-24, December 1996, p. 25. Sanjuan, Thierry, pp. 123-135. 34. Chang’an of the Han (34 km2), Fengao of the Zhou (25 km2), Epang Palace of the Qin (14 km2), Daming Palace of the Tang (over 3 km2), Tang Chang’an (84 km2) : see The Preservation and Construction of Ancient City Xi’an, Xi’an’s Municipal People’s Government, 1997, p. 17. 35. The site of Weiyang Palace gave its name to the urban district of the northwest of Xi’an. See for the history of the site : Xiong, Victor Cunrui, Sui-Tang Chang’an. A Study in the Urban History of Medieval China, Michigan, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 2000, pp. 7-30. In 1997, a program of excavations was undertaken by a national team on the sites of the palace, in particular the Changle Palace and markets. 36. The Xi’an Economic and Technical Development Zone (ZETDZ) is one of the two most important zones in Xi’an.

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services of the State. In fact there existed a certain competition between the different services in terms of capacity of intervention and means. However, several excavation campaigns required mixed teams (State, province, etc.) in association with foreign teams (the excavations of Daming Palace in 1995-96).

Fig. 11. Huaqing pool building (reconstitution) on the foot of Lishan Mountain

Conclusions : protected sites, project stakes 37. Fresnais 2001, pp. 443, 444. 38. Cf. our article on the Master Plan, above. 39. According to the China Daily, March, 5, 2004. 40. See for recent developments : Wang Tao, “Mingtang : The Hall of Luminosity”, in Maréchal, Chrystelle and Yau Shunchiu (ed.), Proceedings of the international Symposiums The Visual World of China, Chang Jie, special issue no. 2, Paris, ed. Langages croisées, 2005, pp. 137-170. 41. For the description of the Daming Palace, see in particular : Xiong, Victor Cunrui, Sui-Tang Chang’an. A Study in the Urban History of Medieval China, Ann Arbor, University of Michigan, 2000, plates 4.1, 4.2, pp. 79-97. See also the article by Heng Chye Kiang, below.

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Since the 1980 s, the protection of the archaeological sites — major or not — and the fate of the fortuitous discoveries at the time of large public works projects do not seem to be guaranteed over time. This is due to the vast dimension of the sites from the point of view of the logistics of the road networks and the development projects, the lack of a policy of preventive urban archaeology during construction work in the archaeologically sensitive sectors, the plundering of sites to nourish the antiquities trade, or, more recently, projects such as the privatization of the site of the mausoleum of Qin Shihuangdi.[55] Indeed, the new official ideology since the 1980 s tends to promote an “effective” protection system, associating protection and creation of activity by developing the archaeological sites in order to create a surplus value on the economic level. Although, since 1982, the management of the protected national cultural relics was organized and coordinated on all levels (by the State and locally),[56] the compartmentalization of the national, provincial and municipal administrative units of cultural relics did not favor a global reflection on these problems :[57] for example, the emergency excavations and the programmed campaigns of the major national archaeological sites both involved the initiative of the

The status of the major sites listed by the State in Xi’an was thus imposed on the policies of regional and local development, and all the more so as their protection coincided with stakes related to tourism and urbanism. In June 1995, the protection regulations of these sites were said to “encourage and support the afforestation, planting and tourist industry… and positive unearthed relics exhibitions and related farming propaganda programs”.[58] This development of major protected sites of ancient capital cities seemed to be based on at least three requirements. On the one hand, as the national regulations stipulated, it was a question of planning developments adapted to a public use (parks, theme parks) that was considered economically feasible. On the other hand, the interest in such sites could be revived by the programming of archaeological research that was to be spread out over time. This strategy of renewal was possible if one intended in the course of classification to preserve the totality or near-totality of the sites, whatever its scale as determined by scientific expertise. This did not exclude the possibility of extending the zone of protection in the case of later discoveries. The development of archaeological research in China during these last years underlined this change of scale in the archaeological sites very well, in particular as far as the sites of the imperial capital and necropolises were concerned.[59] In the last analysis, within the framework of the communication policies of the metropolis and interregional competition in this domain, the quality of the developments constituted an advantage. The development plans should contribute to the reinforcement of the personality of the site and the specific character of the archaeological discoveries. With regard to the development of archaeological sites, cultural heritage is the basis (the trigger) of the project and can elicit its modernity. The protection of the cultural heritage here — and its useful development — could then partake of the dynamics of a reasoned confrontation between protection, useful development and contemporary design.

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42. Restorations of the Hanyuan : Liu Dun Zhen, History of architecture of ancient China, Beijing, Industrial and Architectural Publication, 1987 (in Chinese), p. 120 : Linde : Yang, Hong-xun, Jianzu kaogu xue lunwen jie, Beijing, Wenwu chubansche, 1987, pp. 237-244. See also : Yang Hong-xun, “A restudy on the restoration of the Tang dynasty Han-yuan-dien Da-ming-gong”, Cities and Design, no. 1, June, 1997, pp. 75-102 (Chinese). 43. Excavations : Xiong, Victor Cunrui, p. 83, note 29 ; project of restoration : interview with an official of the municipal office of cultural relics, Sept. 1997. This project will be financed by the UNESCO, Japan (Japan Trust Fund for the preservation of World Cultural Heritage), within the framework of the international co-operation policy undertaken by the Chinese government of the 10 th Five Year Plan (2001-2005) : cf., July 6, 2005. More recent excavations on the site of the Taiye Pool in the enclosure of the palace made it possible to discover new and important elements on the realization of the imperial gardens (China Daily, Jan. 13, 2005). 44. Cf. Xiong, Cunrui, pp. 79-105 ; China View, 2005.12.03 ; China Daily, Jan. 13, 2005. Danfeng Gate : People’s Daily online, Jan. 12, 2006. See also Song Zheng-Shi, Jardins classiques français et chinois. Comparaisons de deux modalités paysagères, Paris, You-Feng, 2005, pp. 91-95 : on the subject of the meaning of the artificial Mount Penglai in an imperial garden with Lake Taiechi in ancient times, especially here under the Qin and Han dynasties south of the Wei.

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45. See for example on this subject the report of the World Bank : China-Cultural Heritage Management and Urban Development : Challenges and Opportunity, Beijing, July 2000. 46. Cf. Xiong, Victor Cunrui, p. 98. 47. Cf. for example : China Daily, Dec. 21, 2001 ;, Nov. 29, 2002. 48. For example, outside the municipal limits of Xi’an, during the construction of the motorway from Xi’an to the international airport of Xianyang, the excavations on the site of the mausoleum ((Han Yangling) of Emperor Jing Di (also called Liu Qi, 157141) and Empress Wang of the Han dynasty, constrained a modification of the initial layout in order to protect the site and to give access to a first museum, opened in September 1999 and a second one opened in 2006 (architect, Liu Kecheng, Xi’an). 49. Cf. Zhong Zongxu (ed.), Xi’an World. An ancient Chinese Capital for over a Thousand Years, Xi’an, Shaanxi People’s Fine Arts Publishing House, 1990, pp. 53-55. The excavations undertaken since 2003 in Qishan County allowed notably the discovery of aristocratic tombs with four tunnels, sites with buildings of the Western Zhou that called in question the localization of the capital in this sector, rather than in the valley of the Feng : see China Daily, June 8, 2004 ; Khayutina Maria, Where was the Western Zhou Capital ? research/WesternZhouCapital.pdf, mkhayutina, not dated. 50. The excavation of about a hundred tombs took place from 1955 to 1957 in the territory of the village of Zhangjiapo, where the museum is located.

51. At the time, this discovery took part in the construction of ideological arguments. References to the emperor were used on the occasion of conflicts between different groups at the top levels of the State : Leclerc du Sablon, Jean, “Soldats de terre cuite ou de papier ?”, L’empire de la poudre aux yeux. Carnets de Chine 19702001, Paris, Flammarion, 2002, pp. 303-324. The site received more than 6 million foreign visitors per year in 2005, along with the sites of the Huaqing Palace and Mount Lishan, but more than 23 million from 1987 until 2001 according to a report of the UNESCO that included the Chinese visitors : The Mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang periodical Monitoring Report on the World Heritage, Qin Shi Huang Terracotta Army Museum, Aug. 2002 (internal document, appendix 2). 52. UNESCO report : cf. preceding note and appendix 2 of the report : “The State Development Planning Commission’s request for the approval of the project proposal on the mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang Park, The State Development Planning Commission (2002, no. 906)”. See also : Xinhua News Agency, Aug. 26, 2002 ; China Daily, May 13, 2003). The realization of this park foresees the expropriation of more than 193 hectares. 53. See the Report of the IGCP Project no. 425 : Full description of the proposed project, International Symposium on Landslide Hazard Assessment in Xi’an, July 13-16 1997 (landslide. igcp/description.htlm) : reported landslides in 1987 and recalled the earthquake risk on a regional level (the latest — and stronger one — of July 23, 1556, measured 8 on the Richter scale.


54. Cf. “” (June 6, 2003) ; Dorofeeva-Lichtmann, “Political concept behind an interplay of spatial ‘positions’ “, Extrême-Orient ExtrêmeOccident, no. 18, 1996, pp. 9-34. 55. See for example : Franklin, Roamain,”Les chefs-d’oeuvre en péril de l’archéologie chinoise”, Libération, June 29, 1992, cited by Hu Ling Yu, in Protection des villes historiques et culturelles chinoises, DEA, Universities of Paris I and Paris X, 1992, appendix ; 2001, pp. 443-444 ; Belkova, Guélia, “Chefs-d’œuvre à rendre”, Paris-Match, March 2002 (“Match en Chine“, special issue), pp. 72-77. Bobin, Frédéric, “ L’armée des ombres de Xi’an échappe de justesse aux boursicoteurs”, Le Monde, Jan. 25, 2002. 56. Fresnais 2001, pp. 134-138. 57. Information collected by the author during an interview in September 1997 with officials of the municipal office of cultural relics and gardens, and during field research in October 2002. 58. Rules of Xi’an Municipality on Preserving and Administrating the Historical Relics of Zhou dynasty’s Fanghao, Qin dynasty’s Epang Imperial Palace, Han dynasty’s Chang’an and Tang dynasty’s Daming Imperial Palace, 13 th Session of the Standing Committee of Shaanxi, June 15, 1995 The Preservation, pp. 43-45 ; Fresnais 2001, pp. 442-449). 59. Cf. Cao Bingwu, “Chinese Archaeology in the 20 th Century and Beyond”, The Ancient East Asia Website, June 10, 2003. Thote, Alain, “L’archéologie aujourd’hui en Chine”, Les nouvelles de l’archéologie, n°. 91, pp. 15-16.

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Eir R.Grytli, Harald Høyem

MONUMENT AND CONTEXT IN A CHANGING URBAN LANDSCAPE “The concept of a historic monument embraces not only the single architectural work but also the urban or rural setting in which is found the evidence of a particular civilization, a significant development or a historic event. This applies not only to great works of art but also to more modest works of the past which have acquired cultural significance with the passing of time.” []

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In June 2001, during the third National Congress of the Chinese Association of Mayors, Vice-Premier Wen Jiaobo told more than 500 mayors that the “development [of cities] should not be achieved at the expense of cultural and historic sites, and urban authorities and planners should always bear in mind the overall picture when making decisions about development”. Later in the same speech he warned the audience that “some mayors and local officials are swayed by massive urban projects and mistakenly view skyscrapers as the sole symbol of urban development and their leadership,” and he urged them to “spare no efforts to protect the cultural legacies handed down by our ancestors”.[] Despite its relevance, this invitation may nonetheless be regarded as a case of being wise after the event, as the reminder came too late for most of the participating mayors. In the contradictory field between urban development and protection of the cultural heritage of the big cities, the symptoms long witnessed on the European scene — of paralysis alternating with attempts to solve the problems — are now present in China. The socio-political context is different, and these contradictions became apparent at an earlier date in the European context, but the main features are the same : the needs for new urban constructions ; the decay of old constructions and the built cultural heritage ; the gap between accessible knowledge and the use of that same knowledge ; the gap between the introduction of laws and the implementation of these laws — to mention but a few. Heavily influenced by American and British theories, Qing Hua University professor Liang Sicheng — one of the pioneers of historical protection in China — was seeking as early as the 1930 s and 40 s to influence decision-makers to balance development against protection in the urban planning of Beijing.[]  Later, both Liang Sicheng and his followers were very active participants in the discussions on how to develop the capital as a historical city. Generally speaking, it seems that measures to protect the cultural heritage were originally initiated by the central government, and that these measures — whether implemented in the capital or on a national scale — then gradually created new practices in the provinces, to varying degrees. The maps in fig. 1 clearly illustrate one result of the development of the capital, as they make evident the persistent dwindling of Beijing’s traditional hutong areas, a crucial concern since 1949.

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Eir R.Grytli, Harald Høyem

In the period before the Cultural Revolution (194966), the general attitude was to follow the Soviet Union’s understanding that maintaining and improving the traditional housing structures was cheaper than replacing them with new constructions. Combined with a lack of funds for maintaining and modernising the old buildings, this policy resulted in substantial decay.[5] During the Cultural Revolution, monuments were attacked and demolished for ideological reasons. The housing areas, on the other hand, were left untouched, partly due to the total absence of urban planning during this period ; and partly because they were not considered of symbolic importance in the search for historical scapegoats. On the one hand, the effect of this laissez-faire policy was a huge volume of undisturbed traditional housing areas in the cities ; on the other, the dilapidation of these areas, which led to their classification as dangerous or not worth repairing. From 1974 onwards, in the period which followed the Cultural Revolution — when the economy was liberalised and urbanisation accelerated — there was no lack of good arguments to replace the old housing structures with new ones.

At the same time there was a growing understanding of the importance of protecting not just the main monuments, but also their context ; as well as the historic districts of the cities.[6] Upon the suggestion of a handful of experts in the 1980 s, the concept of the preservation of historic cities was written into governmental documents as a State policy in 1986.[7] Monuments in cities–integrated elements of the urban organism. Historic cities are complex cultural environments whose cultural significance derives from numerous elements, elements which relate to each other in elaborate physical, economic, social and cultural patterns. All living urban structures are subject to constant change, but the speed and character of the transformation processes vary. In the early 1970 s, the cultural and historical value of many European towns and cities was seriously jeopardised by radical urban renewal projects based on the indiscriminate demolition of entire urban districts. With their intention of replacing historically built-up structures with large and more “contemporary” buildings, these pro-


1. International Charter for the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites, article 1 (the so-called Venice Charter). 2. China Daily, 25 June 2001. Zhang Liang, 2003 : 3. �������������������� p. 120. 4. Abramson in Erring et al., 2002, pp. 53 and 55. 5. ������������������� Zhang Liang, 2003, p. 198. 6. ��������������������� See for example Wang Jing Hui in Erring et al., 2002, pp. 4-5. Our purpose is to preserve the historical environment as much as possible, at least, not to impair the image of the cities, let alone sink them in blocks of new buildings”, and «not only the historic sites and districts in a city, but also the spatial order, planning layout and historic feature of the city need to be protected”. 7. Ibid. 1. See also Zhang Liang, 2003, pp. 257-259.

Fig. 1. The volume of hutong areas in Beijing. a. Intact in 1989. b. After the completion of projects approved in late 1996.[4]

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8. Kittang, 2000 9. Roald, 2000 : 129. 10. Ma Yue et al., 1997, p. 251. 11. Dong Wei, 1995, p. 62. 12. Ibid. p. 66. 13. The fig. derives from a survey conducted in 2001 by Xi’an University of Architecture and Technology in collaboration with The Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

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jects represented a severe threat to the character of the cities involved. However, at the same time a movement challenging the extensive obliteration of historic buildings and urban areas arose in many European countries : the defence of the historic cities was closely related to the left-wing rebellion, the student revolt in the early 1970 s. Although these groups were not primarily concerned with heritage conservation, but rather with the shortcomings of local and national housing policy, their protests resulted in the approval of protection plans for many historic urban centres. Since then, comprehensive conservation and renovation work has been carried out in many historic cities throughout Europe, and nowadays the historic urban areas are often considered the most attractive districts of the towns, with the consequence that they are also among the most expensive ones.[8] A historic city is a physical structure that has developed over time, and is still developing, always adapting to new needs in order to serve its purpose as a centre for social and economic interaction. One of the main objectives in the development of historic cities should be to uphold their position as purposeful centres, while at the same time preserving their special qualities and historic character. The latter is important not least from an economic point of view, as tourism constitutes the most rapidly growing industry in the world and will be of great commercial importance to many historic cities in the future. A city is not limited to the sum of its buildings : it comprises a quantity of elements and structures, where some have aesthetic intentions, while others are the products of tradition and efficacy ; and where some of the elements and structures have a make-up constructed deliberately and for a reason, while others have developed gradually over time. The city provides an alternating interaction between its urban fabric and its landscape, some dramatic and others harmonic, and is simultaneously open through a network of streets and plazas. Hence, all cities (and each city alone) tell widely different stories — some obvious and others concealed, some forgotten, and others in the process of being created here and now. All these factors contribute towards making the city an organism which offers layers of possibilities for exploration and use, thus leaving it open to constant reinterpretation in diverse languages and at different times.[9] Within this complex entity, each single monument in the urban setting is an integrated part of the urban

“organism” and is closely related to its surroundings, both in terms of the physical and the cultural/social context it is a part of. If the setting is changed, the monument will be affected in one way or another. Indeed, a city is a dynamic cultural environment and will always be subject to change. But to what extent can the setting of a monument be altered before the changes start to have a significant impact on the monument’s character and meaning, in terms of its aesthetic, symbolic, cultural and functional value ? Two case studies from Xi’an can serve to illustrate this problem : the Great Mosque in its context is described below as an example of moderate change, and the Bell Tower as an example of drastic change.

Case 1 : the Great Mosque of Xi’an According to some sources, the Great Mosque of Xi’an was built during the Ming dynasty and expanded in the Qing dynasty.[10] Other sources date the mosque back as far as 742 AD — to the Tang dynasty — but their claims are disputed for example by Dong Wei, with reference to a stone tablet which maintains that the mosque was built in the Song dynasty (960-1127).[11] The original name of the mosque was Qing Xiu, which literally means “pure and training”. Situated in the so-called Drum Tower Muslim district, it is one of ten mosques in the area. Each mosque is the centre of a neighbourhood unit, a Jiao Fang, and belongs to one of the three Sunni Muslim sects existing among the Hui population.[12] The Great Mosque is one of the most important mosques in China, serving a parish population of some 5,000 people (all family members included).[13] It serves as a parish centre for the Gedimu, the Old Teaching sect. 1949–mid 1980 s The Mosque compound was, and still is, organised along an east-west axis in a traditional Chinese garden style : symmetrical on the axis, with a sequence of gardens separated by pavilions along the centre line. Along the eastern and western sides there are wing buildings. Trees and birds prevail between the buildings. The Mos-

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Fig. 2. Map showing the Great Mosque in its context.

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14. Personal talk with the Imam of the Great Mosque, Mohammad You nu Si Maliangji, 1994. 15. Probably heavily inspired by the principles behind the Liuli Chang transformation in Beijing. See Zhang Liang, 2003, pp. 179-188. �������������� Jean-Paul 16. See Loubes’ article “The regular city…”, p. 232.

Fig. 3. Hua Jue Alley, a commercial street whose original width was not affected by the upgrading of the infrastructure and street paving. (Photo : H. Høyem, 2002). Fig. 4. The Great Mosque in its setting : Idealised drawing, showing the original relationship between the Great Mosque and the surrounding urban tissue.

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que building itself is located in the western part of the compound, its entrance (from a square) located on the eastern side of the building ; and a prayer hall with the mihrab, the prayer niche, facing Mecca to the west. The garden is surrounded by walls made of brick and approximately two storeys high. The Muslims belonging to the Mosque lived in the densely populated surrounding quarters, organised according to the traditional Chinese courtyard structure along the narrow streets and alleys. The courtyard buildings normally had one storey and pitched roofs, and trees lent a peaceful and shaded atmosphere to the yards. This housing tissue created a humble architectural context for the Mosque, which was one of only two monuments of a certain height in this district (the Drum Tower being the other one). In the 1960 s and during the Cultural Revolution, the Mosque garden contained a small enterprise and a school. The Imam’s intelligent combination of cunning and authoritarian behaviour towards the Red Guards who first entered the Mosque garden during the Cultural Revolution managed to save the Mosque from severe destruction throughout the turbulent years.[1] Mid-1980 s onwards Except during the decade of the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), the Mosque has been an arena where the believers worship, teach and learn the religious texts, and conduct all manner of social and cultural intercourse. These activities have remained very stable, shifts of time taken into consideration. What is new is the increasing attention drawn to the Mosque from domestic and foreign tourists–travellers and worshippers from the outside world. Parallel to the growth in tourism, an escalation of the commercial life in the streets has taken place. Funding secured from external sources as well as from the parishioners has kept the Mosque well maintained over the past couple of decades. Inside the Mosque gardens the only changes are the pavilions which have been added to the west of the Prayer Hall. The idealised drawing (Fig. 4) hides a painful (for the Muslims) and rather evident presence in the Mosque garden : to the south, at the top of the drawing, the design shows an area of beautiful vegetation. In reality, there is a four-storey office building at this spot that belongs to the Security Police. The height of the building is a violation of the planning regulations for the area, according

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to which the buildings next to the garden must be lower than the walls surrounding it. Before 1990, the police building was the only building overlooking the gardens. During the 1990 s, the situation changed because of two separate developments : The Mosque built a new administration and accommodation building, serving as a screen in front of the police building and thus protecting the Mosque from unwanted control and the curious gazes of anyone inside the building ; but simultaneously, in the process of increasing the volume of their houses the other neighbours ignored the height regulations for the area. Both to the east and the south, neighbouring buildings now have more storeys than allowed by the rules, reducing the peaceful and undisturbed solitude which used to characterise the Mosque gardens. The surrounding urban tissue has also undergone substantial change. In a transformation planned and carried out by the municipal authorities, Bei Yuan Men Street was converted into a tourist street in a style which copied historic architecture.[1] In the rest of the area [1] private initiatives created new building structures ; structures which were higher than they used to be, and which had a new architectural articulation, but which generally speaking were still organised according to the framework of the parcel system. Apart from Bei Yuan Men Street, the width of the streets remained unchanged. A comparison of the situation before the mid-80 s with the period after this date shows some changes in the context surrounding the Mosque. However, in principle the changes are relatively small when considering the overall urban form. The main physical changes are found on the architectural level, in the building design and the

Fig. 5. Interior of the Mosque Garden. (Photo : H.Høyem, 1994). Fig. 6. Sketch : principal changes.

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Fig. 7. The police office building before modification (photo : H. Høyem, 1992).

Fig. 8. The police office building after modification (photo : H. Høyem, 2002). Fig. 9. New neighbours towering over the walls. Their presence is a rather dominant one (photo : H. Høyem, 2003).

juxtapositions within the courtyards. The main impression — of the mosque and the mosque gardens providing a very quiet, regular and controlled contrast to the lively street life of the neighbourhood — remains the same. The context of the monument has still retained its humble character (though in a slightly anarchistic manner), and functions in an organic relationship to it. The Great Mosque itself is still the gravity point of the district, with the slight modifications brought on by the impact of tourism. Access to the Mosque gardens is regulated by the prayer hours of the Hui worshippers.

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Case 2 : the Bell Tower Today (as the case has been for several past centuries), the Bell Tower is located where the two main axes of the inner city cross. Its location ought to serve as a reliable sign of the tower’s importance. However, the Bell Tower was originally erected farther in the middle section of West Boulevard (Xi Dajie), and only later moved to its present location.[1] Was it moved so that it would have a more important location ? for functional reasons ? or perhaps for pragmatic reasons ? The literature does not reveal the original rationale for the move. Its present location at the middle of the crossroads affects our understanding of its meaning through the ages, and it is undisputed that the Bell Tower has had this same location throughout the period of primary interest to this book, that is, the period after 1949. Moreover, we will also be able to address the effects of the actual topological order. In order to describe the evolution of the context surrounding the Bell Tower, we have chosen to focus on four typical periods. The first of these periods is the one immediately preceding 1949, when the extinct imperial order was still perceptible, even though the country had been a republic since 1911. The second typical period lasted from 1949 until the mid-1980 s, and was characterised by the new overall planning of the People’s Republic, with its impact on the surroundings. The third period spans the decade (from the mid-1980 s to 1995) during which the city wall was restored, and the urban renewal of the South Boulevard (Nan Dajie) and the square around the Bell Tower took place. And finally, we will look at the period between 1995 and 2000, when the urban renewal process escalated to encompass most of the Inner city.

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17. Ma Yue et al., 1997, p. 251. 18. See illustrations, Atlas plate 15. ������������� to 19. According Laurence G. Liu, a saying during the first dynasty in Chinese history (the Xia dynasty) expressed the following wisdom : “To build a city to protect the emperor, to build a wall to watch the people” (1989, p. 41). 20. Salisbury, 1993. 21. Xi’an Atlas, 1989, p. 2.


Fig. 10. The urban tissue [20] Fig. 11. Photo from the Bell Tower showing the Bell Tower Hotel in the foreground. [21]

Before 1949[1] Together with the Drum Tower and the city wall, the Bell Tower represented the monumental scale, and was thus a dominant feature among the low-rise urban tissue inside the city walls. It seems reasonable to assume that these Ming dynasty monuments symbolised the power of the imperial government, later perhaps inherited and embodied by the Kuomintang central government. The Drum Tower’s drum had the function of notifying the inhabitants of the falling of dusk and the closing of the City gates, whereas the Bell Tower’s bell indicated the opening of the gates in the morning, at sunrise. The combined signals of

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Fig. 12 a. The Plaza Project – perspective drawing. (Xi’an City Planning and Environment Protection Bureau, 1989 :25)

the towers serving as a way of controlling the population, which constituted a basic symbolic and functional intention behind the building of city walls in China.[1] The Tower could also function as a watchtower, overlooking the whole city to discover and warn against fire and enemies. It was a clear landmark, of course, visible along the main axes and from the City Wall–and, at least, while there was still open land inside the city walls, from other vantage points as well. 1949–mid-1980 s The City Wall, which mainly consisted of rammed earth, was in decay. During the period of the first Master Plan — supplementing the first Five-Year Plan elaborated by the central government in Beijing and its Soviet consultants — new main arteries were established, breaking new gates in the City Wall, and suburbs were reinforced outside the wall. The design and realisation of the Bell Tower Hotel and the Main Post Office, forming two cornerstones in a square around the Bell Tower, were also part of the first Master Plan. The original functions of the Bell Tower disappeared during this period. Only its symbolic and aesthetic aspects remained, slightly symbolising the continuity of

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central power from the imperial dynasties to the “Mao dynasty”, as wittily termed by Harrison E. Salisbury.[20] The importance of the main axes was reduced somewhat by the new main roads and their corresponding city gates. Traffic increased slightly around the tower, but was still very modest, representing a perfectly negligible threat to the dignity of the Ming dynasty design. Its dominance in terms of size was slightly reduced by the presence of the neighbouring Main Post Office and Bell Tower Hotel, but the size of the Bell Tower was still on a very different scale from the low-rise buildings in the rest of the city. Its role as a landmark was untouched. Mid-1980 s–mid-1990 s The City Wall was put on the national cultural heritage list, which meant that central government funds were made available for its restoration. The whole wall — over 14 km long altogether — was restored and covered with brickwork. All the new gates were kept, and the four original gates were restored and repaired. The traffic volume increased, and it was also becoming increasingly motorised. South Boulevard (Nan Dajie) was renovated, its six-to-seven storey modern buildings roughly matching the height of the Bell Tower Hotel.

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Fig. 12b. The Plaza Project in its Context. (Xi’an City Planning and Environment Protection Bureau, 1989, p.16)

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Fig. 13. The new bank building on the North Boulevard (photo : Wang Tao, 2003). Fig. 14. The plaza seen from the Bell Tower (photo : H. Høyem, 2002).

22. Xi’an Urban Planning Bureau, 1989, pp. 16 and 25.

The restoration of the City Wall and the original gates created a new overall context for the Drum and Bell Towers, underlining their historic value and importance. At the same time, however, the new scale introduced in the South Boulevard reduced the visual importance of the Bell Tower as a landmark. The escalating traffic reduced the Bell Tower to a visual obstacle situated in the middle of a busy roundabout. The tourists were allowed to enter the tower, which still allowed a good panorama along the boulevards, via an underground passage. Mid-1990 s–2000 All over China the opening-up policy created hectic activity. Domestic and foreign investments, combined with the growth of financial institutions and the real estate management business, resulted in a construction boom : huge building projects were realised within short time-spans, often disobeying the building regulations — especially the regulations for the admissible height of buildings — even inside the City Wall and adjacent to the monuments. Traffic volume increased substantially, and taxis, buses and private cars replaced bicycles, horses and mules almost completely. Tourists were also pouring into Xi’an again — after the tourist slump which followed the Tien An Men disaster in 1989 — in their search for holiday adventure.

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The enterprise and housing structures between the Drum Tower and the Bell Tower were demolished and replaced by a plaza and an underground shopping mall. The project was introduced in public documents in 1989 (see fig. 12).[22] To the north of the plaza, a new building copying historical details was constructed. And in the North Boulevard (Bei Dajie), a high-rise bank building was erected not far from the Bell Tower, introducing a totally new scale to Xi’an’s downtown district (Fig. 13). The combined effect of all these changes altered the role of the two towers completely. They now form two of the cornerstones of a brand new urban construction in the context of the old part of Xi’an : a shopping mall roofed by an open and very popular public square. Through improved underground passages, avoiding the hectic and noisy traffic around the Bell Tower, tourists can climb the tower, pay 5 Yuan and strike the bell (Fig. 14).

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Concluding remarks In this article, we have looked at how two of Xi’an’s most important historical monuments, the Great Mosque and the Bell Tower, have fared in the context of the rapid urban transformation processes witnessed in the city over recent years. The development of the two monuments and their surroundings can be said to represent two “generations” of approach to monument conservation. The Great Mosque has retained its original function, and in addition, it remains closely related to its surroundings both physically and culturally, thus representing the “modern” ideal of monument conservation. Nonetheless, the unfolding urban renewal process is affecting the character of its location at an increasing pace. The Bell Tower, on the other hand, is an example of an ancient monument which lost its original function long ago. More recently, Xi’an’s large-scale urban transformation has had such a radical impact on its surroundings that its cultural context has all but disappeared. In terms of monuments and their surroundings, the Bell Tower is treated as a detached single object, and no attempt has been made to preserve its context : it has been reduced to an isolated museum piece in a “glass case”. The Great Mosque, in contrast, is still part of its context — for the time being. It is not unaffected by the small and gradual changes of its setting ; changes which may amount to “termite bites” in which each single instance of change is not dramatic, but where the sum of the changes over a certain period of time will add up to a major transformation. When change is of such a gradual nature, it is hard to predict the stage at which the sum of all the small steps will ultimately have created an unwanted situation. When everyone realises, it may be too late. It is a thought-provoking aspect of our two examples of how monuments inherited from the past are preserved in relationship to their urban context that the most recent measures represent the least up-to-date attitudes to such

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conservation. The development of the Bell Tower context, intentional and controlled by the municipal authorities and by professionals, was based on the older model of conservation ideals in which the object was seen in isolation from its surroundings ; whereas the anarchic processes involved in the development of the context of the Great Mosque — affected by the residents and not much controlled by the authorities — have resulted in changes that are more in line (so far) with the current ideal of cultural heritage conservation.


Dong Wei, An ethnic housing in transition. Chinese Muslim housing architecture in the framework of resource management and identity of ��������������������� NTH, 1995. place, Trondheim, Feilden, B. and Jokilehto, J., Management Guidelines for World Heritage Sites, ICCROM, Rome (Italy)1993 (revised 1998). International Congress of Architects and Technicians of Historic Monuments (1964), “International Charter for the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites” (“The Venice Charter”) web site : Jia Pingao, Old Xi’an. Evening Glow of an Imperial City, Foreign Language Press, Beijing 2001 Jokilehto, Jukka, A History of Architectural Conservation, ICCROM, Butterworth Heinemann, Rome/Bath 1999 Kittang, Dag, Conservation and Sustainable Development of Cultural and Material Values of the Historic Towns in Historical European Towns–Identity and Change, Conference Proceedings, Olu University, Oslo 2000 Laurence G. Liu, Chinese Architecture, Academy Editions , London 1989. Lidén, Hans-Emil Fra antikvitet til kulturminne,Universitetsforlaget, Oslo 1991. Ma Yue et al. (ed.), Xi’an –Legacies of Ancient Chinese Civilization, Morning Glory Publishers, Beijing 1997. Roald, Hans-Jacob, Sustainable Historic Cities ? A Baltic-Nordic Approach. Nordic World Heritage office, Akribe, Oslo 2000. Salisbury, Harrison E., The New Emperors. Mao and Deng. A dual biography. Harper Collins, London 1993. Wang Jinghui, Preservation of Historical Heritage in China,Erring, B, Høyem, H, and Vinsrygg, S, (ed). The horizontal skyscraper, Tapir forlag, Trondheim 2002. Xianshi dituj. (A Compilation of Maps of Xi’an City), Publishing Company for Maps of Xi’an, Xi’an 1989. Xi’anshi Zhongxingqu Guihua (Xi’an city center area planning), Xi’an City Planning and Environment Protection Bureau, Xi’an 1989. Zhang Liang, La naissance du concept de patrimoine en Chine [The birth of the concept cultural heritage in China], Éditions Recherches, Paris 2003.

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Background The empirical material for this article was collected through studies in the Drum Tower district over a period of 13 years ; including a specific renewal and protection project spanning the years between 1997 and 2002. This project was a collaboration between a cross-disciplinary team from NTNU (The Norwegian University of Science and Technology), Xi’an University of Architecture and Technology, and Xi’an Urban and Rural Construction Commission ; it was financed by the diverse sources of NORAD (The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation), residents of the area, Xi’an Municipality, and the NTNU.[1] In the course of this work, the participants in the process were faced with contradictory tendencies of evolution in the area, as well as a variety of conceptions of how to handle future planning and the implementation of plans. Through a focus on the tense relation between permanence and change — which constitutes the subject of this article — a condensed description of all of these dynamic forces has been achieved.

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The Drum Tower Muslim District The Drum Tower district is located in the area that used to be the site of the administrative blocks of the Tang dynasty in what was then Chang’an city. In the southeastern corner, the Ming dynasty Drum Tower forms a monumental cornerstone of the area. Within the district there are ten mosques, among which the Great Mosque of the Song dynasty.[2] (For more detailed information on Muslim society in Xi’an, see the article on physical environment and cultural identity).

Fig. 1. The Drum Tower Muslim District. Location within the city.[3]

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1. The project was carried out by architects, urban planners, anthropologists, archaeologists, infrastructure engineers, computer engineers, and administrative leaders. Encompassing urban planning, architectural design, housing upgrading, protection of traditional courtyards, improvement of infrastructure, staff training and communication with residents, it offered rich opportunities to face the reality of the district. Being a state-to-state arrangement between China and Norway, the project – which was small in the perspective of the total urban development of Xi’an during these years – attracted a good deal of attention from the decision-makers of the city. Compared with the treatment received by the other traditional districts of Xi’an inner city, the Drum Tower project must be considered an exception ; partly because of the special problems related to the minority question, and partly because of the formal character of the state-to-state agreement. 2. The date of the Great Mosque is a topic of discussion : some maintain it is older, perhaps dating back as far as the See Dong Tang Dynasty. ��������� Wei 1995 : 63. 3. Xi’an Muslim Historical Protection Project Office, 2003 : 2 4. Kalsaas 2000 : 1-4.

Fig. 2. District map.[4]

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Fig. 3. The Model Area of the co-operation project.

Fig. 4. Footprint map.[6] black : building structures, white : open space Fig. 5. View from the Drum Tower to the north (photo : H. Høyem, 1989).

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The drum tower muslim district

The Master Plan of 1995-2020 designates the Drum Tower District, together with the Bei Lin Area, as “Protection areas”.[5] However, the master plan’s proposed widening of several streets within the Drum Tower district constituted a severe challenge to the meaning of the planning category “Protection area”. The collaborative project mentioned above covered only a part of the protection area : 11.8 hectares from a total area of 54 hectares and 5,000 inhabitants out of a total of 60,000. The project area, called the “Model area”, can provide a good reference for the problems handled in this article, as it is representative of the Drum Tower District as a whole in the sense that the stakeholders are focused on these problems, and perhaps even more acutely so than elsewhere in the district, because of its high proportion of Hui nationality residents (94 per cent, compared to 45-50 per cent for the Drum Tower district as a whole). Xi’an — a historic city During the rapid developments of the last couple of decades, a new townscape has replaced the older, low and dense tissue of central Xi’an. In the 1990 s, the patterns of urban development in the two Protection areas (The Drum Tower and the Bei Lin areas) represented a kind of deviation from the norm that applied to the rest of the old city : the main impression was that, with the three exceptions of the City Wall, the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower, the historical footprints of Xi’an were fading. The manifestations of the city’s past were getting more and more fragmented and sparse ; they were no longer coherent and dominant features of the townscape. By the early 1990 s, it was apparent that if the walled city of Xi’an was to retain any of its historical character at all, it was urgent that the remaining fragments of its past be preserved and that new elements be adapted to the old structures in a relevant manner to maintain the historical footprints and provide a meaningful context in which they could continue to exist. The remaining historical fragments in the physical environment existed at the widely different scales of urban district, streets and squares, block structures, monuments, courtyards, buildings, building elements, ornaments and decorations. Intangible footprints closely related to the physical environment, such as demographic development, social organization, and changes in the function of the different elements of the urban fabric were also part of the picture.

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So, how could the remaining fragments best be preserved ? And how would one go about defining and identifying the fragments that should be protected ? A traditional approach would be to search for authenticity, for “the real thing”.

“new Islamic architecture” as a political expression on the other. Above all, however, their solutions have been chosen for pragmatic reasons based on economics, needs in terms of space, and the prevailing building technique, which is found throughout China (concrete frames, flat floors and roofs in concrete slabs, brick walls, ceramic tiles, metal framework in windows ; see fig. 9 of the article “Physical environment and cultural identity”). Lately — and not least as a result of the co-operation project in the Drum Tower area — the discussion on authenticity, on what to protect and how to develop a Protection area, has been raised. The contradicting opinions expressed have reflected the dilemmas mentioned above. In addition, an underlying element of politics, with its mixture of hidden and open agendas, has affected both the debate and the practical implementation of the chosen solutions.

The problem of authenticity Embedded in the phenomenon of authenticity are certain classic dilemmas associated with identifying the criteria according to which something is considered authentic, while something else is not. According to the classical concept of authenticity in architecture,[7] the criteria of authenticity should be applied to form, materials, technique, function and site. As shown below, these ideal criteria will cause problems if they are applied in full to the context of preserving and developing the chosen protection area as a — rather comprehensive — fragment of cultural heritage. The next problem, which is close to the core of the basic dilemma of authenticity, is how does one choose to relate to the time aspect ? Several alternative strategies are possible. In relation to Xi’an and its protection area : one may concentrate on the district as an expression of the most impressive period of the city’s history (the Tang dynasty), or one may use as the reference point the oldest examples among the existing architecture of the area (remains from the Ming dynasty, represented solely by the Drum Tower and the Monumental gate of the Great Mosque) ; or the reference point may be the oldest courtyard buildings and building elements of the area (from the Qing dynasty) ; an alternative approach would be to relate to all of these periods from a position that conceives of history as the whole process until the present. According to the latter approach, everything in the urban fabric today is an expression of the history of the area ; in other words, the new structures that dominate the area today are as important as the few remaining examples of classical Chinese architecture constructed during the different dynasties of the more distant past. The problem of authenticity has been avoided over the last few decades through a minimum of interference by the municipal authorities. The hectic construction activities have basically been managed by the tenants themselves, who have to a certain extent expressed through their choices references to classical courtyards and look-alike historic architecture on the one hand, and to so-called

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5. Xi’an Master Plan 1995-2020. Xi’an, 1996. 6. Kalsaas 2002 : 4-39. 7. E.g. Michael Petzet 1995.

Permanence or change ? The relationship between permanence and change will be discussed on the basis of three main issues : policy changes as premise providers for organizing private and public space, the Hui’s ethnic minority status as a premise for the organization of space and, finally, changes in terms of available technology and building materials as a premise for design and built form. Policy changes In order to better understand the permanence as well as the changes of the physical environment in the Drum Tower area in the 1980 s and 90 s, we need to reflect on some basic changes in the socio-political and economic conditions since the People’s Republic was founded, taking into account China’s pre-1949 history. The process that took China from the Maoist planned economy epoch to Deng Xiao Ping’s liberalization of the economy towards the liberal market economy has totally changed the street landscape. The liberal economy and the political opening-up of the country to the world outside also resulted in attracting a substantial amount of tourism to Xi’an, and these investments were given preferential treatment.[9] The 1980 s’ streets were sur-

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Fig. 6. Age of Buildings [8] 8. Xi’an Muslim Historic District Protection Project Office, 2003 : 24.

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rounded by blank walls, broken only by courtyard gates. Each neighbourhood was assigned its specific colour in which all the walls facing the street were painted, thus giving each neighbourhood unit a specific and unified character. Today’s impression is a totally different one, in which commercial activity dominates, with shops and restaurants lining the streets, and hectic buying and selling activity constituting a dominant feature of the streetscape. The fate of Hua Jue Alley, which has been turned completely into a souvenir street, illustrates the general pattern. At the beginning, only the southern part of the alley had souvenir shops. A few years later the whole alley was a continuous sales area for souvenirs, and today the souvenir shops have also spilled into neighbouring Xi Yang Shi Street, where they are fast becoming a prevalent feature. The improved financial situation of tenants has led to a boom in construction activities  ; activities that are partly beyond the control of the municipal authorities and that are creating a kind of “new vernacular architecture” in the area.[10] Another political issue that has influenced the construction processes is the ownership structure of the courtyards, with its close relationship to the boom in

The drum tower muslim district

real estate development coupled with nationwide housing reforms. The paradigm change from seeing housing as a welfare provision to treating it as a market commodity has just started to influence the urban renewal of the district. This followed a long period during which the ownership structure had been an obstacle to the largescale modernisation of the housing situation — preserving, so far, the basic, low-rise character of the district. New developments in recent years have introduced blocks of flats (organised in a kind of courtyard system) that are three to four storeys tall, pushing or even breaking the height regulations for the area. These new structures are built mainly by municipal real estate agencies that have been able to overrule the construction control officers through negotiation and persuasion, arguing for the new liberal market housing policy and the economic factors in favour of their chosen solutions. Seen in a long historical perspective, the present-day street activities point back to the original Hui role in Xi’an, which was traditionally that of the tradesman. Even their trading ancestors, who arrived in Xi’an by the Silk Road before there was any Hui nationality as such, were able to conduct their vending activities in the central market squares of the Tang dynasty. In this respect — and indirectly — one may say that the current relationship between the functions and the physical manifestations of the streets reflects a cultural heritage essential both for Xi’an in general and for the Hui people in particular. The space and activity sequences — trading with tourists and local people in the streets, processing and preparing the wares and commodities, as well as domestic activities taking place in the courtyards, and family life being conducted in the courtyard houses — symbolise or evoke associations with the traditional activities of the Hui nationality and with the multi-cultural flavour of Xi’an as an international metropolis through the ages (reaching its peak during the Tang dynasty). The courtyards have undergone substantial transformations since 1949 due to changes in ownership and occupancy patterns. A courtyard used to belong to a single family and was used by that family only. Private ownership was accepted by the central government up until 1956.[11]  After this date an active socialist transformation policy quickly introduced public ownership, which soon expanded in scope and volume. The combined factors of urbanisation and population growth created conditions in which many

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families shared one courtyard, living together in varying degrees of overcrowding  ; each person had as little as 2.7 square metres at their disposal when the situation came to a head in the Drum Tower district. In terms of housing, public (or bureaucratic) ownership meant that the State was the owner of the land upon which the houses were built, and the tenants could lease the right to use this land for a certain period of time. The stability of this system had the consequence that each leaseholder of land tended his territory carefully, often trying to expand his area — slowly and step by step. Eventually, this resulted in a seriously high density and in a poorly coordinated growth of building volumes. On the other hand, in many ways this ownership system had the positive [13] effect of conserving the basic tissue of low-rise, dense courtyard structures and street patterns of the past. Not in detail, obviously, but in principle, as the many changes within each courtyard did not affect the permanence of the large-scale courtyard pattern. The Hui minority The municipal government’s reluctance to interfere in the affairs of the Hui minority has had a definite impact on the urban development of the Drum Tower district, for better or worse. On the one hand, the rapid replacement of low, dense structures with high-rise buildings and wide streets, which prevails in the rest of the city, has been met with resistance by the local population, and thus obstructed. Maybe this is a main reason why this district can still be considered a protection area. On the other hand, through a partial or total lack of regulatory initiatives, the area was not upgraded in terms of the standard of the physical environment — public or private — to the same extent as other areas. The result has been anarchic construction activity, with frequent violations of many of the master plan regulations. The tensions vis-à-vis of the Han Chinese government and the need of the Muslims to worship regularly at the mosques both contribute to the wish to live together around the mosques. This wish, coupled with the growth in population,[14] leads to densification and permanence in the social structures, which in their turn undermine any government effort to move families out of the area. The demographic growth finds its physical answer in a reduction of the open space in the courtyards. The permanence of the urban tissue of the Drum Tower district can also be ascribed to the fact that two

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9. It should be mentioned here that hotel construction, starting up in the mid1980 s, constituted the first joint venture projects allowed in Xi’an. From that point onwards, foreign capital was allowed to invest in Xi’an, and privileges were given to the investors, resulting in a preliminary over-capacity of high-standard hotels in the city. 10. Dong Wei 1995 : 133. 11. Lü Junhua et al. 2001 : 114.

kinds of organization systems — one secular and one religious, and both stable in their own way — operate in the area. At the top of the secular organization pattern, the Street Committee oversees the whole Drum Tower district, whereas its subdivisions, the Neighbourhood Agencies, are organized according to street pattern and take care of day-to-day issues and public affairs. The religious organization pattern, the so-called Jiao Fang, is a kind of parish subdivision that relates the worshippers belonging to either of the three Muslim sects to the mosque of their own particular sect (cf. the article on

Fig. 7. Architectural mix in Bei Guang Ji Street (photo : H. Høyem, 2000). Fig. 8. Souvenir shops in Hua Jue Alley (photo : H. Høyem, 2002).

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Fig. 9. Typical situation: living in the courtyard / production in the courtyard / selling the products in the street shop. (Photo : H. Høyem, 1998). 12. Dong Wei 1995 : Appendix. 13. Positive in the sense that features of the urban tissue essential to the cultural heritage were maintained. 14. Minority families have the right to have two children, which results in a natural demographic growth, as people also live longer. 15. See figure 2 of the article “Physical environment and cultural identity — the Hui nationality in Xi’an”. 16. From the 1980 s onwards, the following development has become typical : facades with no advertisements except a few banners now and then ; then facades with discrete, Chinese characters ; followed by more and more Arabic scripts ; whereas now, Chinese and Arabic characters are mixed and rather dominant features of the facades.

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physical form and cultural identity for a closer description of the different sects). The borders of the secular system are rather fixed, as they are given by the streets and their juxtaposition. The religious system, on the other hand, has flexible borders, but a permanent centre of gravity — the mosque. The two systems are not geographically coherent, a factor that creates an urban pattern based partly on the street grid system, partly on the centres of gravity constituted by the ten mosques of the area.[15] However, both systems are connected to relatively permanent (although rather different) sociocultural organizations. Taken together, they constitute an inertial factor that resists change, enforcing a high degree of permanence in the urban tissue. Technology and form Drastic changes associated with technology and improved living standards have affected the urban and architectural forms of the district. Traffic and technical infrastructures — such as water supply, sewage, electricity, and refuse collection — have taken new forms that are having a substantial impact on the urban pattern and public space. New construction methods — brought about partly by new techniques using different construction materials, partly by the scarcity of wood — are modifying and changing the architectural forms, and in turn the public space. When comparing the Drum Tower district’s current urban fabric with the situation before the 1980 s (illustrated by

The drum tower muslim district

the survey drawings of 1991, fig. 11), some noteworthy basic changes appear : the urban tissue has changed in the sense that an area which used to consist of singlestorey, densely and regularly built courtyards, now displays a structure of houses that are still densely grouped and still organised as courtyards ; but with the difference that the buildings are now two to four storeys high, and that today’s courtyards are a mix of irregular space and building forms. Streets are more or less unchanged in terms of location and width. Their use and proportions, however, have been subject to shifts : from being quiet areas providing access to the courtyards and displaying little commercial activity, except for the street vendors loudly hawking their wares, the streets are now the sites of hectic activity, partly conducted by street vendors as before, but mainly by businesses based in the ground-floor rooms facing the streets. The facades on the streets are now two to four times higher than before, giving new spatial proportions and setting new limitations to the growth of street trees. The public toilets and dustbins are still there ; the public water taps and washing places, however, have been replaced by water supply inside the courtyards. With the exception of a few traditional courtyards, some of them recently restored, the architectural form has undergone a total transformation. Whereas the old one- to two-storey houses were wooden constructions with adobe walls, wooden doors and windows, and pitched roofs, the new houses have concrete frames with concrete floor slabs, brick walls, flat roofs — often with roof terraces, metal doors and windows — and are two to four storeys tall. The architectural articulation of the walls in the public space has changed in accordance with the new ways of constructing houses, and with the new functions fulfilled by the street houses [16]. Advertising signs for the shops are a prevalent feature, the signs growing in size and number, and becoming more and more professional, glossy and colourful. Today they dominate, at least in part, the façades overlooking the public space. However, the frequency of Arabic script or symbolic image-making indicating the Islamic identity of the shopkeepers is growing (as seen in fig. 12), thus adding a new flavour to the commercialised facades of the main streets, which were originally dominated by Chinese characters and script.

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Fig. 10. Example of the transformation of a traditional courtyard, Dayouxiang no.112

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The drum tower muslim district

Fig. 11. Roof plan near Drum Tower, 199116. Compare with fig. 6 (age of buildings)[17]. 17. Kyoto Art Academy 1991 : 107.

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Harald Høyem


Fig. 12. Bei Yuan Men Street : facade decoration and writing on a Muslim Dumpling restaurant (photo : H. Høyem, 2005). Fig. 13. Traditional courtyard under restoration – Xi Yang Shi road no. 77 (photo : H. Høyem, 2001). Fig. 14. Modern housing in the area – Hua Jue Alley No. 4 (photo : H. Høyem, 2001).

Concluding remarks Attempts at a large-scale modernisation of the Drum Tower District have been obstructed and stopped by the residents. Some basic features of the urban form and some patterns at a certain level have remained, thanks to this resistance as well as to the lack of coordinated planning and control. The overall impression of a low and dense urban tissue still remains. It is not as low as before, but seen in relation to the surrounding inner city districts, the Drum Tower district still appears to be a low-rise area. The topological order, the location and juxtaposition of streets and blocks, has been maintained, roughly speaking. The parcel system of the courtyards is still legible. The contrast between the architectural order of the Great Mosque and that of the surrounding urban tissue has by and large been maintained. What has changed drastically, though, are the basic architectural forms and their articulation. In the last analysis, the impressions of permanence versus change in the Drum Tower District of Xi’an depend on the level on which the urban patterns are approached.

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Dong Wei. An ethnic housing in transition. Chinese, Muslim housing architecture in the framework of resource management and identity of place. Trondheim, Diss. NTH, 1995. Kalsaas, Bo Terje. Development of GIS database for traditional Chinese courtyard houses in the Drum Tower Muslim District. Trondheim : NTNU report, 2002. Kyoto Art Academy. Sino-Japanese Joint Research on the Formation of Townscape in Xi’an. Kyoto : Kyoto Art Academy, 1991. Petzet, Michael. “In the full richness of their authenticity” — The Test of Authenticity and the New Cult of Monuments, The Nara conference on authenticity, Japan 1994 — Proceedings, Larsen, K.E. (ed), Trondheim, Tapir Forlag, 1995. Lü Junhua et al. Modern Urban Housing in China 1840-2000. Munich, Prestel, 2001. Xi’an Urban Planning and Design Institute Xi’an Master Plan 1995-2020. Xi’an : Xi’an Urban Planning Bureau, 1996. Xi’an Muslim Historical Protection Project Office, Report of Sino-Norwegian Cooperative Xi’an Muslim Historical District Protection Project, Xi’an, 2003.

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Jean-Paul Loubes

The regular city and expression of identity The Drum Tower District in Xi’an

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The Chinese regular city, a world order translated into planned and built space, represents a spatial matrix to which is attributed the intrinsic quality of governing the spatial order as well as the social order and its institutions. The city of Xi’an is representative of this regular matrix, both in the version of the Chang’an of the Tang and, more reduced, in that of the Ming city. The city of the Tang is known to us by an emblematic plan of which recent archaeology checked the exactitude of the layout of the walls. As far as the imaginative representation of the zhouli could make of it, its outline is a variant of the plan of Chinese capitals replicating the principle of the “Royal City of the Zhou”. These representations of the Wangcheng of the Zhou position the palace of the sovereign in the center of the square or rectangular enclosure, in accordance with the “nesting of squares” that characterizes Chinese urban space. Insofar as the plan of Chang’an pushes the palace of the sovereign back against the northern wall, it characterizes an alternative of the Zhou layout that is known as the variant of the “capitals of North China”. One finds this layout in the plan of Shangjing, capital of the Bohai built in 755 (Helongjiang), but the plans of Nagaoka-Kyo and Heinan-Kyo (Kyoto) also bear witness to the exportation of this model to Japan. The Ming city, more reduced in its dimensions, also fits this model, as far as its regularity is concerned: rectangular enclosure, orientation, axiality and symmetry. However, compared with the actual facts, an observation of the different versions of its historical plans (until the one of 1949) demonstrates that the regularity of the model filtered the irregularities. These differences between the ideal model that governs the vision of the city and the concrete reality of its inscription in the space are perfectly normal. The passage from layout (design, concept, project, idea) to reality has to negotiate with a topography, a history — with “already existent” elements. In this, we touch a first characteristic of urban regularity, namely its ability to produce (to introduce or consider) the irregular, the accidental, the unforeseen or ambiguous. The regularity ceases to be an abstract layout, something immaterial and without dimensions. Another characteristic of urban regularity is to consider — one might say, “to manage” — singularity, such as the singular identity of a “different” group. It is from that angle that we will study the case of the Drum Tower district.

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Jean-Paul Loubes

The regular city : constraint and freedom Because it is translated by a blueprint on a plan that systematizes the segmentation of space, urban regularity generally seems to be a restrictive system. It is considered the exact opposite of models of organic growth, which have also been called “spontaneous”. On the other hand, to the latter are attributed the non-directional qualities and freedom that would be the privilege of the reputed “natural” development of cities. But which freedom does it concern ? that of the design on paper ? that of the freedom of the geometrician, of the architect, of the one who holds the pencil ? Well, it is true that the checkerboard layout and the choice of orthogonals does orient, guide and thus limit the freedom of the line. Or is it the freedom of an individual or group to build a habitat, to settle itself on a parcel of actual space ? This actual space is not on the scale of the drawn representation (support, paper, screen), but on “a human scale”. It is important to identify this fundamental difference in scale between the representation and the actual size of the phenomenon. The person who builds his or her house does not experience the available territory on the scale of the paper — the support of the drawing — but on the scale of the parcel that is allotted to him or to her. The following case study tries to show how in the regular city, on the scale of the production of space, there exists a latitude (freedom) of expression for the individual and for group cultures. Rightly, we say that the regular layout (here the orthogonal or pseudo-orthogonal) does not have a scale in itself. It is flexible and transposable by proportional transformation of this “nesting of squares” that rules the built space at every scale. As such, it is an abstract pattern. But by its application, its implementation in real space, it ceases being an abstraction, takes shape, and materializes in reality. What on the graphic level was a line becomes a street. What was a square becomes a street block (built space) or a marketplace (empty space). The passage from the vocabulary of the designer and the geometrician (line, square) to the urban vocabulary (street, street block, square) perfectly marks this transfer to reality. It is this margin of freedom left by the mesh of the regular fabric that we will explore and try to measure in the following study. The question can be formulated as follows: which margin does urban regularity authorize in the production of space and its transformation ? Here,

the urban analysis seems to be the method and the empirical measuring instrument of this space of freedom : the street block.

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1. Gernet, Jacques, L’intelligence de la Chine, Gallimard, Paris, 1994, p. 23. 2. Gernet, op. cit, p. 25.

The street block of the Chinese city It is known that the control of the street block in China has two aims: protection of the community from external incursions and an easy identification of the population by the authorities. It is the “political power that distributes the sites, makes the allotments and, if necessary, has recourse to resettling the population. Indeed, like the metropolises of the Han or the time of barbarian invasions between the 4th and 6th centuries, Chang’an, Luoyang and the neighboring areas were populated in a systematic way”.[1] The complexity inherent in the principle of the regular city comes to light here in what we could call the system of the street block. The street block as a system of settlement is also a system for integrating that which is different (the “barbarian” populations or, later, the Arab tradesmen and communities of muslim confession). It is also a way of controlling this difference. Regularity is at the same time a formal system (it induces an urban form) and an instrument of the politico-administrative organization of the city.

3. Gernet, Jacques, La vie quotidienne en Chine, Hachette, Paris, 1959, p. 28. 4. Clément, P., Clément-Charpentier, S., Pechenart, E., Qi Wan, Architectures Sino Logiques, I.F.A - I.R.A.U, Paris, 1989, p. 20.

The control by street block The street blocks which constitute “kinds of villages isolated from one another, closed at night by curfews, are the only human groups that the imperial administration recognizes, and their cohesion tends to make them collectively responsible in the eyes of the public authorities”.[2] This control manifests itself in different ways. In an imperial city like Hangzhou, for example, a notice board listing the inhabitants on the door of each house became mandatory after 1276 (Mongolian occupation).[3] Marco Polo tells us that this local practice was used “in the whole region of Mangi (South of China) and Cathay (North of China)”.[4] The Chang’an of the Han was composed of some 160 street blocks enclosed by walls. There was a gate on each of the four sides. Chang’an, rebuilt by the Sui (581-618), was also a squared city of 9.7 km from east to west and 8.2 km from north to south. Its districts were enclosed by cob walls. Main streets connected the gates, and secondary streets subdivided the urban space into smaller street blocks. This authoritarian cutting of the city into street

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The regular city and expression of identity

Fig. 1 The regularity of the broad outlines and the irregularity within the urban fabric. Plan from the end of the Qing dynasty (according to Xianshi ditugi). The relocation of the capitals on the same site makes the model of the Zhou illegible. However, the major principles are respected: orthogonality of the walled city, axiality, large intersection of roads marked by the Bell Tower. The two enlargements of the fabrics show how the irregularity can also exist inside the regular outlines.

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blocks was used until the dynasty of the Tang in the 10 th century. The urban districts (Li) were surrounded by walls, closed at night by curfews and open to the streets only through gates. The Chang’an of the Tang would return to this principle by expanding it to such an extent that it could apparently host a million inhabitants in its 110 blocks, each having a capacity of housing 10,000 people. The street block of the great capital is a very good realization of “the nesting principle of the Chinese concept of spatial development ; it enables the integration of house, district and city in an overall diagram according to the principles of a rigorous geometry, and the control of flows and quantities at different scales.”[5] In such cities, commercial activity was localized in specialized blocks that could be controlled by the system of gateopening and closing. But this eminently authoritarian systematization had to become flexible when, from the 8 th century on, under the Tang and especially under the Song, trade activities went beyond the limits of the street blocks that had been reserved for them. The enclosed fang would lose its walls in the 10 th century. Whether the name lost its initial meaning, associated with the name of the lanes (xiang), it persisted in the new denomination of the un-walled districts : fangxian. Traces of this geographical attribution of crafts and commercial activities remained until the end of the 1990 s ; it was easy to observe in Xi’an the grouping of professions by street. The street was transformed during the day into a workshop. This was the case of the street of the character painters (signs, banners), calligraphers (near the Museum of Steles), artisans of funeral decorations, fabrics, etc. After the demolition of the enclosure of the street blocks, the squaring by broad avenues crossing at right angles continued to provide a basic road system, structuring the city into street blocks according to the prescriptions of the Zhou.

A remarkable fact, considering the urban rules: legislation was not concerned with the internal organization of the districts.” We could apply this last remark made by Jacques Gernet concerning the Chinese city at the time of the Tang and the Song to the spatial, cultural and economic dynamics that we can presently observe in the Drum Tower district of Xi’an : it seems that the actual Chinese municipal power is no longer present there. Besides, the urban form reflects to a certain extent this juxtaposition of regulated space and free organization ; that of the isolated village, to use the image already evoked. The street block articulates these two levels in the regularity, just as it articulates the two levels of administration : the central power and the representation of the inhabitants. The examination of a part of the plan of Xi’an shows this superimposition of a first squared network with controlled alignments on an internal network of street blocks — more irregular, locally — resulting from the production of space by the inhabitants themselves (fig. 1). The first network retains the orthogonals, the broad axes of the urban structure, the avenues with a particular status in the hierarchy of the arteries. This status is in general marked or dictated by the gates that are placed at the ends of these axes or by the administrative buildings (yamen) and other sites of power. The main network is that of the large commercial arterial roads, and their width allows spacious pedestrian areas on both sides of the roadway. On these large thoroughfares unfold what we call the practices of public space which in the Western city is concentrated in compact spaces such as the plaza or the square. The second network is the space of daily dynamics. The roads are narrower and, if necessary, curve to avoid fortuitous obstacles or irregularities of the terrain ; whether widened or narrowed, they engrave a history house by house in their irregularity. The outlets of the streets are not necessarily opposite and the encroachments on the pavement are numerous, due to the workshops and small boutiques. By the nature of the practices and uses resulting from the “true lives” of all the inhabitants, including their own building projects and constructions, it is a space perceived as private by foreigners. This is what we call the vernacular production of the city. The first layout gives the conditions, the overall structure and coherence, and the margin of freedom is displayed and based on the structure of this first layout.

The street block, space of freedom If the central power manifests itself in the initially walled street block as part of a complete and coherent system that constitutes the Chinese city, it can release its grip inside the enclosure of the street block. It is this articulation of restriction/freedom that seems to be one of the reasons for the success of the squared Chinese city. “Inside the walls, the intervention of the State was already less tangible, more indirect. The inhabitants of the districts had their official representatives to the administration.

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5. Gernet, J., L’intelligence de la Chine, p. 25.

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6. Pirazzoli-T’Serstevens, Michèle, Chine, Architecture Universelle-Office du livre, Fribourg, 1970, p. 41. 7. Edelmann, François, “De l’ancien, Pékin fait table rase”, Le Monde, 19 Oct. 2002. 8. Another example of the space of freedom is the commercial freedom of the daily small businesses which permitted rapid enrichment.

Fig. 2 Localization of the Muslim Drum Tower district. The large intersection of roads on which the rectangular Ming ramparts is centered is not the one on which the Chang'an of the Tang was centered. The NorthSouth axis shifted noticeably to the East. The actual Muslim district (in black) was not located on the same site as in the city of the Tang. The contemporary outlines (after 1950) prolong the ancient roads of the internal city of the Ming outside the walls. Because the site is flat, as in Beijing, the old outlines always structure the plan of modern urban development. The regularity is timeless here and continues to determine the form of the city for a long time. If successive planning since the 50s took up these thousandyear-old outlines, it is an exception, however, and the first one dates from the cooperation with the USSR. In the South, the East-West avenues bend to the North in the shape of “the wings of an aeroplane”. Reminiscence of a gesture that others, at the same time, experimented on in Brasilia (1956-1960)?

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The regular city and expression of identity

The transformation of the Drum Tower district in Xi’an The subject of the following analysis deals with the articulation between the existing transformation process within the urban fabric and its autonomy in relation to the broad outlines of the city. An emblematic imperial capital, the city of Xi’an changed and renewed itself in the course of two millennia on the selfsame site. If it did not always retain its imperial status, becoming a provincial city again after the fall of the Tang, its successive reconstructions continued to follow the rule of regularity. They were carried out on the same site of the plain, allowing each time the redeployment of the principle of the regular city. The ramparts of the Ming, a large rectangle of six by four kilometers, enclosed the city until the 1950 s. The juxtaposition of the different enclosures, which archaeology allows us to reconstitute, shows that the other principles — axiality, symmetry, southern orientation, division into street blocks by orthogonally crossing axes — determined these reconstructions. There were adaptations showing that the rule of the Zhou was not an abstraction, but a real tool that was used to produce the city in accordance with a given order. These adaptations were, for example, the shift of the south-north axis and the unbalanced infill of the street blocks, of which

some — inside the rampart of the Ming — remained undeveloped until the middle of the 20 th century. Owing to obstacle avoidance difficult to clarify today, this again concerns certain reorientations of minor roads that do not question the general vision of a regular city. Nowadays, the Muslim community inhabits several of these street blocks locked in by the roads of the checkerboard (fig. 2), as had been the case in the city of the Tang, but according to a different localization. The localization in the plan of the Muslim sector refers to the question of control mentioned above. This is a particularly interesting question for the urban planner, who sees in it, beyond the strictly formal considerations, one of the keys to the quality of the squared plan : “The constitution of specialized districts is general and resembles the social compartmentalization that will remain one of the outstanding features of Chinese civilization”.[6] We can clearly see how the checkerboard is a matrix that integrates, insofar as it attributes to this community one or more squares of the checkerboard. It provides a host structure for the difference (here religious, and ethnic in the Chinese sense of the word). One could even maintain that this matrix integrates in terms of equality just as well, since the intrinsic qualities of a square make it equivalent to any other.

Ming city rampart

Outline resulting from the Russian planning and actually implemented.

Axis of the Tang city

Axis of the Ming city

The context of the transformation By its scale and the brutality of its implementation, the “unprecedented urban massacre”[7] that struck China in the 1990 s left little space for the emergence of plural identities, in particular those of the minorities. The Drum Tower district in Xi’an offers through its architecture the characteristic of being the framework for a new expression of identity for the majority of its Chinese Muslim inhabitants, the Hui. The motivating force behind these changes is indeed the collective life of the inhabitants, “linked by kinship relationship, ties of a religious and sometimes a professional nature”, as Gernet wrote in connection with the Chang’an of the Tang. Still today, the identity of the Hui of the Drum Tower district takes shape around three characteristics : i.e. family relationships, religion and professional occupation. The eventful history of this by-and-large Chinese group provides the general framework of the transformation we are studying. The particular conditions that explain or allow this change, its rate and finally the introduction of the architectural form produce in other respects a special

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Jean-Paul Loubes


Drum Tower Muslim district The rampart of the Ming

case of the development of a contemporary vernacular architecture. The absence of any control inside the street block, combined with the corruption that characterizes the different levels of Chinese power managing the field of town planning (state, province, municipality), left the district to its own dynamics. This is an illustration of margins of freedom in a country with a long practice of authoritarian and police regimes.[8] The Muslim community of Xi’an : historical origins and data Of the more than 5 million people living in the metropolitan area, approximately 2.5 million live in the city of

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Xi’an. The city inside the ramparts of the Ming counts 350,000 inhabitants and the quadrilateral that constitutes the Muslim district in the west of Beiyuanmen, 60,000 (fig. 3). It is estimated that a little less than a half of this population belongs to the Hui. However, by their conspicuous activity, the Hui seem to be the main actors in the life of the district. One can observe at the end of the 1990 s the first signs of the Han population leaving the district, but we cannot evaluate the extent of this emigration. This movement corresponded to an increasing affirmation of the Hui identity. The Great Mosque, Huan Jue Jiang, a prestigious monument of national importance, clearly identified this district with the Muslim

Fig. 3 Situation of the Drum Tower district inside the walls of the Ming (on a ground plan of the 60s)

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9. Shafdi, Iqbal, Brief history of Muslims in China, The Aga Khan Award of Architecture, Séminaire de Pékin, 1988. 10. The first mosque, Qin Xiu Shi, was built on a different location than the present building, which consists of parts constructed at intervals between 1392 (beginning of the Ming) and 1522. There were important restoration campaigns in 1606 and from 1764 to 1768 (Qing). 11. Loubes, JeanPaul, Architecture et Urbanisme de Turfan, L’Harmattan, Paris 1998, p. 24. 12. Aubin, Françoise, article “Musulman. Modernisme dans le monde”, Encyclopaedia Universalis, 1980. 13. Dong Wei, “An Ethnic housing in Transition,” Faculty of ArchitectureThe Norwegian Institute of Technology, Trondheim 1995, p. 77. 14. Israeli, Raphael, Muslim in China, Scandinavian Institute of Asian Studies, 1980.

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community. In the national Muslim hierarchy in China, its imam occupies the second place after the imam of the Mosque of the Street of the Cow in Peking (Niu Jie). If the cohabitation between Hui and Han is unproblematic in many cities, this was not the case in Xi’an. Throughout the 19 th century the Hui in the province of Shaanxi experienced particularly dramatic events. The history of the Muslim community of Xi’an is rooted in the prosperous periods of the Tang dynasty that established commercial and political relations with the Arabian caliphs. Indeed, we know that in 650 the Tang emperor, KaoTsong, and the caliph, Osman,[9] established diplomatic relations. In the following year, the latter sent a general to Chang’an to build the first Arabian embassy. From 651 to 798, there were no less than thirty-seven visits of Arabian delegations to the Chinese capital. In 742 the first Great Mosque was founded in the city, probably on the initiative of Muslim mercenaries enlisted in the Tang armies : it was called Qin Xiu Shi [10] then. These first contacts dating from the beginnings of Islam led to the introduction of this religion in Xi’an, as well as in the south of China. Islam spread across Central Asia via the terrestrial roads, into Chang’an (Silk Road) and via the sea routes, resulting in the establishment of mosques, in particular in Quanzhou and Canton. The 18 th century witnessed persecutions against the Muslim community alternating with revolts. The policy of persecution by the Qing was pursued into the next century, until the great revolt of 1866 and the massacres that put an end to it. In all, the repression killed 97% of the Hui population of Shaanxi. Indeed, it was the remaining 3% that reconstituted the present community in Shaanxi. These terrible events are still very present in the memory of the Muslim community today. Its sensitivity to this topic is ready to flare up at any time, which explains the quarrels that occasionally oppose the Han and the Hui, or the latter and representatives of the Chinese administration. This delicate situation accounts to some extent for the absence of the administrative and political powers regarding the management of space in the district. The Chinese authorities fear that its actions will be perceived as provocations. The Hui owe their identification as a minority or nationality to the application of the categories of the Chinese classification system, which makes it possible to base nationality on religion (in the Third National Population Census of July 1982, they appeared as an ethnic group

The regular city and expression of identity

Bei Yuan Men


Drum Tower

Zone demolished in 1996

Fig. 4 The “traditional Chinese city”. A vision of the district before its transformation. This representation of a fragment of the Drum Tower district restores a state of the homogeneous urban fabric that traditionally constituted the habitation of the Hui. The whole is composed of Chinese courtyard houses, generally at ground level and locally with one floor. Until the 80s this situation did not change much. Bei Yuan Men Street, which passes under the Drum Tower, saw its bordering houses renovated in a Chinese style at the beginning of the 90s. The quadrant at the South-West side of the Drum Tower was demolished in 1996, allowing the laying-out of a square in the center of the city of Xi'an, between the Drum and the Bell towers. (Document: Norwegian university of Science and Technology, Faculty of Architecture, Trondheim). Fig. 5 Traditional courtyard houses. A. Hui Houses, at No. 125 Hua Jue Xiang, in the Drum Tower district in Xi'an. (Document : Dong Wei, An ethnic housing in transition, Editions of the Norwegian university of Science and Technology, Trondheim, 1995, p. 114) B. Courtyard house of Beijing (siheyuan) representative of the type of Chinese house in the North of China to which the Hui house belongs. The latter is an adaptation of the “compartment” type built on narrow strips of land that is characteristic of the city of Xi'an.

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for the same reasons as the Kazak, the Mongol, the Sibos and the 56 other “nationalities” of the PRC).[11] However, it is necessary to insist on the fact that the Hui are indeed Chinese : “The Hui or Chinese Muslims are a paradox in the communist system. Legally accepted as an ethnic minority, they are in general indistinguishable from the surrounding Han, either by their racial origin, or by their anthropological characteristics, or even by their language (except for the use of Arabic and Persian religious terms)”.[12] Confirming this observation, the architectural tradition of the Hui is no different from that of the Han : the Hui house was a Chinese house. If one compares the rituals attending the construction of a house by the Han and the Hui, the procedures are exactly the same. The Koran legitimized for the Hui what the Han put into practice in the name of Fengshui.[13] This long, historically stable situation (the origins of the community go back to the 7th century) persisted until the 1990s. From then on the Hui broke away from their architectural tradition and abandoned the Chinese model of the courtyard house that they had used until then. They were to adopt a new type of urban house, as well as a new architectural vocabulary. A new architectural tradition developed, destined on the one hand to solve the housing problems left unresolved by Chinese authorities and, on the other, to assert a radicalization of their identity through a new architecture. Indeed, because of the “tactical pluralism” of the Hui mentioned by Israeli,[14] the Chinese nature prevailed in the old identity and contained only on a barely perceptible level the expression of features related to Islam. Since the reversal, they accentuate their adherence to Islam.

pilgrimages were practically non-existent in the Muslim community. Since then, the number of these trips has increased. They contribute to the wealth of the different sects, adding external financing to that which the Chinese government grants to the different religions. In addition to these resources for the mosques there are also donations made by the faithful. Sometimes, the Hui of Xi’an observe a practice that is common among the Muslims living in the West (Xinjiang) whereby one donates to the mosque a sum corresponding to the daily maintenance of a maidservant. This donation is made on the day of the Chinese Spring Feast, which coincides with the new moon marking the end of Ramadan. In a merchant district with an increasing prosperity, these donations are becoming more and more important. • The influence of the Great Mosque of Xi’an. It is at the heart of the district itself and, if it structures and federates the Muslim community (Mosque of the Friday), it also


Fig. 5.

A recent transformation In the 1990 s, several positive conditions created a favorable basis for this process of transformation: • The vitality of Islam. Traditionally the Chinese Muslims were related to the Sunni Islam of the Hanefite Rite, but the sects diversified quickly. In the 1980s three principal obediences were identified, but since 1985 new sects have emerged. The rapidity of the phenomenon is such that the Chinese, who used the term “new sects” to indicate these new associations, call the most recent ones “new-new sects.” Overwhelmed by the pace of the phenomenon, they have difficulty in giving it a name. • The revival of the pilgrimage to Mecca. As authorizations to travel were very difficult to obtain until the 1980s,

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Fig. 6a. / 6b.


Shops on the street side


Fig. 6a.

Fig. 7a. 

Fig. 7b.

Fig. 7c.

Fig. 7d.

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Fig. 6 b.

Fig. 6 a. / 6 b. Sketch showing the reorganization of the building principle on the parcel. The observed reorganization involves the abandonment of the old architectural type of the low-rise courtyard house and the emergence of a new type, in which two to three flats are vertically distributed around a patio. Today, it is a side alley that serves each patio-unit. The increasing density is considerable. The architecture has been completely renewed but the compartmented structure continues to exist. It appears as a permanent urban structure on which the complete renewal of the habitat is based. Ancient form (observed in 1995): a parcel. Only one level. A house with 2 courtyards, and in the 90s, one or more families per courtyard. Axial distribution. The first courtyard structures the second one. Traditional tiled roofs. Changed form (observed in 1997) : the same parcel. 2, 3 or even 4 levels. Three blocks of dwellings around three patios. 2, 3 or even 4 families per courtyard in independent flats. Accessible terrace roofs. Independent side distribution. An extract of the compartment structure on narrow land strips around Xi Yang Shi Street. A regular grid of main roads produced a free evolution inside the street block. It is this kind of land structure that was judged inappropriate to allow a contemporary response to the evolution of the district. However, it is on this basis that, today, the renovation, the modernization (networks, sanitary equipment), the densification and the de-cohabitation are being carried out. Fig. 7 Invention of a type and transformation of the architectural form. From the Chinese city to the Medina. Group of three parcels bordering Xi Yang Shi Street. (Survey sketches, made by Marie-Pierre Carini, School of architecture and landscape of Bordeaux, September, 1997) 7 a. Plan of ground floor. House has been entirely reorganized. The new distribution reveals two patios and a dwelling on the street side. House preserved the ancient plan. 7b. Plan of the first floor. The flat roofs of house appear, as well as the light shafts corresponding to the patios. The slightly changed house (b) still preserves its ancient framework and tiled roofs. The part on the street side begins its transformation. 7c. Roof plan. House (b) still preserved three quarters of the old structure. House (a) is entirely reorganized, house (c) almost completely. The landscape of terraces becomes dominant. 7d. Section B-B still shows the cohabitation between the remains of the old architectural form and the emerging new one. Fig. 8 “From the Chinese city to the medina” 1. Ancient fabric. Restitution of a fragment of the district as it was “before the transformation”. The planted courtyards provide the low houses with a plant cover (According to the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Faculty of Architecture, Trondheim). 2. The transformation. Axonometric representation of the transformation in progress with substitution of the roofs with terraces. The transformation is characterized by mineralization. In the South, the Great Hui Mosque, still in “Chinese style”. The situation in 1994 (According to Dong Wei, An ethnic Housing in Transition, Editions of the NTH, Trondheim, p. 114)

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constitutes a major tourist attraction and generates a great concentration of trade in souvenirs, paintings and antiquities in the street leading to the Mosque. From year to year, this line of shops regularly spreads into new lanes. The presence of the Drum Tower and the renovation in the “Chinese style” in the 1990 s of Beiyuanmen Street, which passes under the Drum Tower, reinforces this tourist interest. With the massive and planned destruction of the cultural architectural heritage that Xi’an underwent in the last decade, the Great Mosque remains the last monument to justify a tourist visit. (The neighboring Bell Tower is no more than a roundabout whose complete restoration razed the built environment to the ground; in the south of the walled city, the Museum of Steles-Temple of Confucius, recently dropped from the recommended tourist itinerary, stoically seems to await its turn in this program of destruction.) As the last monument of prestige inside the ramparts of the Ming, the Great Mosque focuses the tourist flow and is one of the driving forces behind the observed economic vitality. • The economic prosperity of the district. Trade, the principal activity of the Hui, gives the present district its picturesque atmosphere and color. This tradition is ancient and undoubtedly related, at least in part, to the fact that the Hui were not allowed to exercise other professions in the past. The combination of living and working involves a house with a frontage facing the street, a shop on the ground floor and private apartments upstairs. This commercial activity gives the district the great economic force that explains the rapid pace of building development in the last ten years. The increasing prosperity of the Hui enables them to invest in the rebuilding of their houses, and so they rehabilitate, transform, and rebuild a significant number of them. This process of rebuilding the district on the same site, based on the financial ability of the inhabitants to invest, resulted in the transformation of the traditional Chinese city. By “traditional Chinese city” we mean the regular city composed of low houses (one or two levels) built around a courtyard (fig. 5). • Property. The de-maoization of the 1980s meant the restoration of the right to house ownership. Even though the land remains State property,[15] private citizens have the permission to install their businesses for 20, 30 or 70 years. These contracts can be sold and the private owners can freely dispose of their residences.

Besides these conditions, other particularly favorable factors have been of importance in this transformation; in particular the good quality of craftsmanship able to deal with all the modern segments and technical developments in the building trade (reinforced concrete, secondary work, networks, etc.). As far as the control of building regulations is concerned, there are no building permits and inspections of the surfaces and density, and rules concerning the proximity of houses (prospect, view, etc.) are non-existent. Thus we have a contemporary version of the reduction of Chinese authority inside the “isolated villages” constituting the street blocks, as mentioned by Gernet in connection with the Chang’an of the Tang. The effective self-management by the district communities concerning issues of public administration compensates

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15. In December 2003 a Chinese law introduced the right to private landed property. 16. Since 1996, the team of the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Trondheim (Norway), under the supervision of Harald Høyem, deployed considerable energy in trying to protect some courthouses of the district. Initially planned to protect eight houses, only four could be restored. In Xi’an, they comprise the evidence of this Chinese architecture which gradually disappeared over the last ten years.

Fig. 8 a. Fig. 8 b.

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Fig. 9 “From the Chinese city to the medina”. By renewal of the construction on the same parcel, the old Chinese courtyard house (on the left) disappears and makes place for a new architectural type organized around a patio illuminating and distributing several levels (on the right). The city of low houses with tiled roofs is replaced by a city made up of three- to four-storeyed houses with flat roofs (see below). Below: Certain recent constructions try to mix the Chinese architecture (odd-numbered beams, columns on a stone pedestal, design of the glazing bars, the “paillou” surmounting the entry) with elements referring to the vocabulary of Arabo-Islamic architecture (here, hull arches for the entrance gate and low windows). Above: these constructions broke with the whole Chinese tradition and refer to the Arabizing architectural stereotypes (windows of the first floor "evoking" rather than copying hull arches, evocation of columns carrying these arches by using faience). Notice the corbelling on the street side of the first floor, then the additional overhang on the second floor (second building), and finally the annexation on the ground floor of the space of the pavement. A metal shutter makes this annexation definitive.

Fig. 9a.

Fig. 9b.

for the inadequacies of the municipal services. Considering the extreme sensitivity of the population vis-à-vis any manifestation of Chinese authority, the municipal authorities benefit from this situation. The squared city really is the matrix of the articulation between a central power (municipal and Han) and local structures (religious and “ethnic”), and it efficiently replaces this power within the urban fabric.

concerned with the internal organization of the districts”. In fact, today we find ourselves exactly in a situation of this kind in Xi’an. The remarkable rapidity of this phenomenon has to be emphasized. The inhabitants seem to have mobilized to create an irreversible situation. From 1980 to 1990, the change was progressive and regular, related to the booming prosperity of the inhabitants due to the constantly increasing numbers of tourists visiting the Great Mosque, which became the most popular monument in Xi’an. The 1990s in particular were characterized by an accelerated rhythm and the district was caught in a veritable building frenzy. One can say that 90 % of the built environment had been renewed by 2002. Today, only three or four of the original courthouses survived.[16] This transformation of the urban form affects on the one hand the architectural form and on the other the urban structure, in particular the public space.

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From the Chinese city to the medina We have emphasized the deficiency of Chinese power regarding the management of urban space. This is generalized in Xi’an, where urban planning is not even made public, since it is so useless. The district’s strong capacity of organization through its own structures compensates for this deficiency. Its economic, religious and social structures fill the vacuum left by the Chinese administration, whose authority ends at the boundaries of the district. There is the apparent paradox of a regime, authoritarian and perceived as such, abdicating from an enclave in which its institutions do not function anymore. It is within this perimeter that the process of transformation of the urban form that we studied could develop. Here we see a splendid updating of the observation that Gernet formulated with respect to the Chang’an of the Tang and that we already underlined : “A remarkable fact… the legislation regarding urban regulations was not

The transformation of the architectural form It proceeds in the following ways: the invention of a type and the transformation of the architectural vocabulary. The invention of a type Formerly, the Chinese houses of the Hui did not differ from the traditional Chinese courtyard house (fig. 5) and were found in the whole district. A low ground-floor house, locally

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with one floor for the main buildings, giving a rhythm to the succession of the courtyards. It was integrated into a plant screen consisting of trees growing in the courtyards or gardens behind the houses. The saddle roofs were covered with tiles. The saturation of this ancient urban fabric, by filling the empty spaces of the courtyards, was reached long before the 1970 s. This observation not only concerns the Muslim district but can also be extended to all the other districts of Xi’an and beyond — and in fact to all Chinese cities. Be that as it may, faced with problematic conditions of hygiene, demography and urban growth, the form of the traditionally low Chinese city became obsolete. The particular vitality of this commercial district already mentioned above gave its residents a greater financial ability to intervene on the built environment than that of the average population of Xi’an.

expression we retained to qualify this transformation : “From the Chinese city to the medina.” • De-cohabitation becomes possible. Here lies the great success of the self-management of a district faced with the shortcomings of the Chinese bureaucratic and planning systems. It is possible now to accommodate several families where before there was room for only one, to rent an apartment and to create a commercial space. Because they could not wait, the inhabitants of the district took action, overrode the town planners, architects and planners who only reflected on ways to reduce the densification and cohabitation and to increase the housing capacity. • Emergence of an architecture of terraces that replaced the roof architecture of the low houses. The terraces are accessible by stairs. They provide space for annexes such as box rooms, attics, shelters for animals, etc. They generate new, unknown practices of space in the Chinese house : the use of the terraces. • The standards of the sanitary equipment of the district have been spectacularly improved. To achieve this, the house-building residents and their craftsmen took advantage of the recently and correctly installed water supply system beneath the roads. Within their own parcel they took over the engagements of the public authorities. This was another example of the materialization of the articulation of two levels of skill that the matrix of the squared city allowed. To have a water supply outlet on

In this particular context appeared a new type of house that could be described as follows : • Rearrangement of the buildings on the parcel (fig. 6). The distribution of the courtyards along a central axis that characterized the traditional Chinese house was replaced by a distribution of new courtyards, patios, communicating with a side alley as property line. This spatial arrangement serves two or three patios. A change of vocabulary translated this transformation very well. The “Chinese courtyard house” evokes a space encircled by low constructions in which plants, flowers and some trees have their place. The “patio” refers to a narrower space, entirely paved over and bordered by two or even three levels of galleries. As in the past, the shops remain on the street side (fig. 7). • Invention, insofar as a new type of house appeared. This type was not imported and it is clear that it was elaborated in situ, after the constraints of the site : narrow parcels, common ownership, management of a vicinity through rules other than those of institutional town planning, number of families wanting to divide the long parcel, history of kinship relations, the proximity of these families, etc. This invention on the site itself justifies the term of vernacular by which we refer to this kind of architecture. • A resultant densification of the urban fabric, as well as a considerable increase in the housing surface area. It is estimated that the latter was multiplied by a factor of at least five : one went from a city of single-story houses in the 1980 s to a city of three, four, or five-storied houses after the transformation. Figure 8 illustrates the

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Fig. 9c.

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each floor became normal. Some bathrooms appeared, and their number will surely increase in the future. • Quality of the construction. The quality is good, and even very good, and the materials durable (concrete frameworks and floor, brick filling). Noble, or at least expensive and sophisticated materials and equipment display the wealth of the owners and the competence of the local craftsmen.

have to note that it deals perfectly with the problems. For example, we can observe that the house plans tolerate room dimensions — induced by the configuration of the parcel plan — that professionals would deem unacceptable. It is this difficulty that usually leads to re-parceling, considered “in the opinion of the professional” as the only way to make the shapes of the rooms and the plans “acceptable”. If these narrow spaces, all lengthwise, are used to distribute the rooms, arranged in accordance with their geometry and well integrated into the plan of the new dwelling, they are also perfectly comfortable as living spaces. That constraints incite inventiveness, or are the source of it, is not new. Here, this dynamic was fully deployed.

The development of this new architectural type requires at least two comments : • it is not conventional or in conformity with tradition. In order to assert their identity, minorities (national, ethnic) often revert to or update models, or references to models, considered representative of the “traditional values” of the group vis-à-vis the dominant society. Here, as we have already seen, the traditional values of the group in question, the Hui, are Chinese values. It is thus

At the end of this process, the features that we have described, the city of terraces, completely replaced the low-roofed Chinese city (figs. 8, 9 a. b. c.).

Fig. 10 a. Fig. 10 b. Transformation of the architectural vocabulary : the dwellings.

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by adopting external or new architectural signs that the distinction can be made. The Hui borrowed these external signs from arabo-islamic architecture, or at least their idea of it. Innovation also belongs to the field of invention, which is the subject of the second comment. • the new type surprises the usual architectural representation of the architectural professional. However, we

The transformation of the architectural vocabulary. If the process described above makes the traditional building heritage of the Chinese house ineffective (wooden frame, tiled roof, clay walls, only one or partial levels), in order to finalize the desired transformation, its architectural vocabulary must also become obsolete. This phenomenon takes the character of a fundamental change

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Fig. 11 a. 11 b. 11 c. Transformation of the architectural vocabulary : the mosques. Above on the right: a building with a flat roof topped by a cupola, itself raised by a skylight with multifoil arcatures, was placed against an old house of Chinese architecture. The latter is a remnant of the old architecture of a Hui mosque. This photography illustrates very well the emergence process of a new architectural tradition that, in some places, clashes with the ancient one that has not yet disappeared. Above on the left: Here the transformation is complete : cupola, minaret symbolism (which did not exist in the architectural tradition of the Hui), gothic arched windows and arcatures, and merlons crowning the terrace mark the complete renewal of the archi-tectural vocabulary. Below : Corner building showing how new architecture keeps the regularity of the Chinese city, here by respecting the principle of the street block. These views are a good illustration of the autonomy of the architecture with respect to the urban regularity of the Chinese city, which is not reconsidered in itself.

in the architectural tradition of the Hui, which hitherto produced a Chinese space. The development of the new architectural type just described passed through the invention of a plan. The latter referred neither to the Chinese tradition, nor to external borrowings. It was completed by architectural vocabularies that drew their references from arabo-islamic architecture. The signs that assert the Muslim identity of the Hui widen the gap with the common Chinese reference. Once discreetly limited to the writing, signs, banners and interior decoration of houses, they became the legible elements of the architectural vocabulary. Here, more than elsewhere, architecture seems to be a system of signs. The ogee or ogival arch delineates the window lintels and the doorjambs. The opening to

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the outside world and relations with Islamic communities in the West (pilgrimage, business trips, trade) provided the new architectural references judged most fitting to reinforce an identity that wanted to express itself. These signs find their counterpart in the field of clothing. Wearing a veil is a now widely accepted among the Hui women of the district. One can witness the end of the tactical pluralism that made the Hui remain Chinese, in spite of the fact that they were Muslim (figs. 10 a. and 10  b.). The transformation of the mosques The observed stylistic evolution of the houses also concerned the mosques. To the emergence of the hull and ogival arch we can add the circular or bulbous dome.

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17. Notably for this point, see Wiet, G., article “Mosquées”, Encyclopaedia Universalis, Vol. 11, 1980, p. 381. 18. The persistence of the demolition of the working-class districts of Beijing with a view to the Olympic Games of 2008 is another significant and particularly dramatic example of sackings and deportation of populations. Attempts at self-immolation and suicides are among the reactions to the forced deportation of families faced the corruption and speculation. Concerning this “crushing of workingclass districts,” see especially, Bobin, Frédéric, Le Monde, 1st Oct. 2003, p. 4.

Here again, the rapid transformation of the mosques of the district asserts the good financial health of the leading confessional associations. They benefit directly from the financial solidarity of the Muslims abroad, as well as from the generosity of the faithful. Until now, most mosques had a Chinese architecture and used what we call the form of the temple. This means that in China, the same formal architectural type could be used for a mosque or a temple, be it Taoist, Buddhist or Confucian. Ever since the introduction of Islam in China, the Chinese Muslims adopted this style for their places of worship. The Great Mosque of Xi’an, still preserved from transformation, is quite representative of this Chinese type. As for the houses, today one can observe elements of an architectural vocabulary from the West changing for the first time an architectural model that until than was related to Chinese Islam. Firstly by their decoration and secondly by their architectural elements, the mosques were transformed by interventions that referred to an “arabized” architecture. This is how ogee arches on bays and doors appeared, as well as the fake towers surmounted by bulb domes flanking the entrances. In the last case, one wanted to give the entrances the style of the gates of the “pishtaq” type that characterizes the mosques of Central Asia and Iran. In other cases, the buildings of the old temple structure were demolished one by one and replaced by buildings in an arabo-islamic style. This implies a fundamental evolution in the architecture of buildings that, until now, had resisted all foreign influence.[17] (figs. 11 a. and 11 b.) The transformation of the urban structure and the form of the public space The transformation of the built space also involved that of the bordering public space (figs. 12, 13 a. b.). These changes, in the sense of increased paving and the creation of a new street pattern, gave the new urban form the appearance of the medina : • progressive disappearance of the street trees that in this district constituted the basic green structure of the traditional low Chinese city. This screen of greenery lining the streets was extended by that of the trees growing inside the courts and gardens. Firstly, half the volume of the foliage of the trees lining the road was reduced by new two- or three-story buildings. Secondly, these trees disappeared completely through the annexation of the public space at ground level and the extension of the trade activities on the street.

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Fig. 12 The transformation of the street space. The survey sketch of the street sections of different points in the district shows how the street is gradually changing. In (1) the traditional configuration of the Chinese street remains the same. By the form of its roof and its moderate height, a low house allows the development of a row of trees at the roadside. In (2) the survey sketch shows how the tree crown is already half cut down by the raising of a bordering house with one floor. The tree is doomed. Section (3) shows the confrontation between the old outline (on the left) and the new one (on the right). The tree has disappeared. We observe that the two floors are corbelling out onto the street, thus reducing the profile of the road. The annexation of the overhang of the corbelling by a shop will occur rapidly, as is in the case of (4), where car traffic will soon become problematic. In (5) the two facades on the street are very high (4 and 5 levels), the green screen has completely disappeared, the street is darker. The public space has changed.

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• change of the public space. By increasing the height

itself. Whereas everything else changed — materials, architectural form, organization of the plan — the only element assuring a continuity with the ancient urban form was precisely this parceling. For this reason it proved to be a fundamental structure of the city, and in the long term the only one remaining in the street block ; thus connecting the new form to that of the ancient city. It is the only visible trace in the archaeology of the street block and the only locatable one because it is engraved in space as the memory of the ancient Chinese city. Elsewhere in China, this parceling is generally swept away by the urbanization process. The “companies” that decide upon the districts to be renovated start by demolishing everything before establishing their plans for new buildings. This tabula rasa nullifies not only the buildings but also the parcel arrangement that constituted the generative structure of the urban tissue. Nothing can oppose this destruction, not even the registration of certain houses on the official provincial or municipal cultural heritage lists. The private operator can override such laws and the private citizen is powerless against the capitulation of the public authorities (as we noticed in the case of the renovations in Xi’an in October 2002).[18] This was not the case in the Drum Tower district. The strong resistance of the population to the new Chinese urban order resulted in the preservation of the parceling.

of the houses and enlarging the floors by corbelling, the lanes became narrower and received less light. • progressive annexation of the pavements at ground level related to the corbelled-out floors made the traffic less fluid as the width of the roads was reduced and automobile traffic increased. This progressive encroachment on the public space was a deliberate strategy of appropriation. Indeed, apart from the fact that the corbelling practice added 8 to 10 m2 to the floor, it allowed in a second phase the annexation of the pavement space corresponding to the floor overhang (merchant stall, display case that one could be moved at night). In a third phase, this progressive, discreet annexation, became definitive through the installation of a metal shutter. Parceling as “memory” The observed transformations translate the identity reinforcement of a group through its architectural expression and at the same time highlights the particular role of parceling. Contrary to the arguments on which parcel consolidation is based, the subdivision into narrow strips so characteristic of the street blocks of the ancient urban tissue does not seem to be outdated here. The inhabitants found ways to overcome the obstacles and even established a new typology of housing on the parceling

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Fig. 13 a. / 13 b. The transformation of the street space Trees with foliage that could grow higher than the roofs of the low houses (left) are gradually cut down with the construction of three- or four-storeyed buildings (right). The construction of the new dwellings on a new street line reduces the width of the sidewalks, traditionally polyvalent and appropriable spaces of the Chinese city. By the corbellings seeking to gain floor space from the first floor to the other levels, the street is closing itself in. The green screen of trees along the roads disappears.

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The regular city and expression of identity

The production of a contemporary vernacular architecture In this face-to-face between municipal authorities and the self-organization of the district, the renewal of the urban tissue on the same site involved a mutation of the architecture which, very subtly and progressively, took the changing culture of the inhabitants into account. The term contemporary vernacular qualifies particularly well the renewal of the built space in the Drum Tower district. This process clearly illustrates the way in which the street block articulates the collective life of a group, in particular its architectural expression, through the preservation of the major structure of the broad avenues that divide the squared city. The strong constraints created by the narrowness of the parceling were used as structural supports for this transformation. At first sight it does not seem obvious to apply the word vernacular — used to name local architectural and urban productions in which official institutions do not play a role (nowadays, surely more than 90 % of the global built space) — to the Chinese context. Planning is still the basic principle behind the production and development of urban space in this country. But it is only an idea, and an obsolete idea at that, as profit dictates the management of urban development and corruption makes the regulations system — where it exists — inoperative. In this context, the institutions are circumvented and even overstepped by a phenomenon that updates the spatial cultures of the groups concerned. These cultures of space are mostly contemporary and use modern means to meet the needs left unsatisfied by public policy. The anthropological approach regards them as creations that can draw from the stock of traditional solutions and practices of an architectural heritage and update them, or, as in this case, reject this heritage and adopt responses and vocabularies coming from the outside. To these borrowings from an external “traditional” heritage it is necessary to add, as we have seen, the factor of invention. As Chinese power seems to dissolve in approaching the area, the Drum Tower district in Xi’an functions as a laboratory in the production of new spaces. Here, one is not applying the usual neo-pastiches (regional, national, ethnic). An original creation is involved. These forms are

not derived from the architectural tradition of the group in question. The new space is an Islamic space that breaks away from the traditions of the group itself. It illustrates the way in which stylistic strategies serve the aims of a group whose ethnic identity (in a Chinese way) seems to be asserted more and more and, as such, be politically important. The group departed from the Chinese architectural tradition from which it proceeded since its origins. Despite the fact that they control part of the land tenure in this district, the Chinese authorities are passive witnesses to the evolution of this process. It fills the gap due to their inability to decide and proposes a scenario that the inhabitants, who are the agents, can only approve. Moreover, the community cohesion is such that its territory is inaccessible to the external, ordinary mechanisms of speculation-corruption that are the real driving forces behind the town planning of the great Chinese metropolis. This territory is excluded from the coveted areas. However, in Xi’an — a city that has been engaged for the last ten years in an obstinate destruction of its architectural and urban heritage — it represents an enclave of the “picturesque” and a tourist attraction. Unlike the operations of destruction carried out everywhere else in the city, we can observe here an auto-metamorphosis of the urban fabric. While seeking to elucidate the spatial strategies of groups involved in the confrontation between national and ethnic minority identities, the anthropology of space reveals a multiplicity of possible forms of closeness and conflict between cultures. A hybridization integrating local traditions into a well-known modernity to level the environment is a scenario that can often be observed. However, here one can observe the opposite : the renunciation of a secular heritage and the creation of a new “tradition”. The strong coherence of the Chinese culture and its low propensity to cultural intermingling were undoubtedly factors that favored a radical solution : the assertion of identity by stepping out of the tradition. This specific case is a good illustration of the ability of the squared Chinese city to articulate a local history — here, a local history of the architectural and urban form — within the broader plan that makes the regular city a guarantor of overall cohesion.

31/07/07 3:00:30

Xiao Li


Location and background (historical changes and developments) Xiao Li

T�������������� he Change and The Lost Memories of Xi������ ’����� an's Zhengxue Street Xi������������������������������������������������������� ’������������������������������������������������������ an, the world-famous historical city, has experienced its������������������������������������������������� largest urban construction and great������������ est��������� leap ��� in� community ��������������������������������������� development ��������������������������� and econom����������������� ic growth�������� in ���� the last two ������������������������������������������������� decades. Simultaneously, all of the carrie��� r��s and memories of ��������������������������������������������� the historical ����������������������������������������� civilization in the city, the old buildings, the alleys and lanes, the courtyards, the traditional districts and communities, have ������������� disappeared��. Zhengxue Street and ������������������������������������������ its��������������������������������������� district are one of these distinctive quarters with a �������������������������������������������� ������������������������������������������ long history. Under the old tile-roofs ��� of� the area, the traditional handicraft industries ��������� continue� to thrive (fig.1)�������������������������������������� ��������������������������������������������� . ������������������������������������ Fortunately, ����������������������� because of������������� the concern expressed ������������������������������������������� among all parts ��������������������������������� of the population���������� , some���� �������� of the buildings along the street ha����������������������� ve��������������������� been preserved. ���� The life of������������������������������������������������� the street will go on��������������������������� , but���������������������� the community of the ���� district���������� ha������� s gone.

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Zhengxue Street, 175.5 meters long�������������������� and���������������� 8 meters wide��,� is located in the central area of the city �������������� and runs from Mafang Gate������������������������������������������ in the south to ���������������������������� West Street�������������� in the north (fig.���� 2)� ���. The name of Zhengxue St���������������������������� reet������������������������ came from ������������� the ��������� Zhengxue Academy, which����������������������������������� was built in 1496 during the Ming dynasty. The word “���������������������������������������� Zhengxue�������������������������������� ” ������������������������������ refers to classical learning. According to historical records, Zhang Zai, a famous Confucian philosopher ������������������������������ of���������������������������� the Song dynasty, lectured t������������������������������������������������������� here. B������������������������������������������������ ������������������������������������������������� ecause of the fame and influence of his school,� his teaching����������������������������������������� was ���������������������������������������� held ������������������������������������ in high esteem and regarded as an������������������������������������������������������� exemplar ������������������������������������������������������ of classical ������������������������������������������ learning by the government. The street lie������������������������������������������������� ���������������������������������������������������� s ����������������������������������������������� to��������������������������������������������� the east of Zhengxue Academy, which is also the location������������������������������������������ �������������������������������������������������� of the former Shaanxi Provincial Library. When��������������������������������������������� Zhengxue Academy opened, Confucian scholars from every corner of ���������������������������������������� China�������������������������������� gathered t��������������������� ���������������������� here. The stationery business grew�������������������������������������� and ��������������������������������� developed prosperously����������� , becoming� a new ������������������������������������������������������ feature �������������������������������������������������� of���������������������������������������� ������������������������������������������ the street. F�������������������������� ��������������������������� or a time during���������� ���������������� the Qing dynasty������������������������������������������������� t����������������������������������������������� he street ������������������������������������� was���������������������������������� widely acclaimed by citizens and renamed Writing-Brush Stores Street. In the ���������������������������������������������������� early ������������������������������������������������ years of the Qing dynasty, the stationery business declined������������������������������������������� .������������������������������������������ T���������������������������������������� ����������������������������������������� he middle part of the street was�������� ����������� closed for a while after the ������������������������������������� Zhengxue ��������������������������������� Academy merged with the Central Shaanxi Academy�������������������������������  ;����������������������������� ���������������������������� customers������������������� moved to Shu Yuanmen Street������������������������������������������������� ,������������������������������������������������ where the�������������������������������������� latter was located������������������� . Before long, the street business expanded ������������������������������������������ to include����������������������� stamp ���������������������� carving��������� , ������� tablet making���������������������������������������������������� and stone plate printing. The street was re�������� -������� opened in 1932. From������������������������������������������� the late �������������������������������������� years of the Qing dynasty to the period of the Republic, Zhengxue Street was the printing center of Xi�������������������������������������������� ’������������������������������������������� an and the buildings along the street were mostly used for stone plate printing. During the ������������������������������������������ middle �������������������������������������� of the last century, ���������� thanks to� the development of modern printing technology�������� ,������� stone plate printing was���������������������������������������� replaced������������������������������� by���������������������������� the������������������������ letterpress and offset printing. ���������������������������������������������������� I��������������������������������������������������� n every residential district of the city there was a printing factory owned by the local government. In the face of such an influx, the manual printing business run by the families along Zhengxue Street lost its��������� leading� position������������������������������������������������ ,����������������������������������������������� but nevertheless������������������������������ ������������������������������������������ endured. D������������������� �������������������� uring the years of the Cultural �������������������������������������������������� and Revolutionary Movement, the business in the �������������������������������������������������� street was brisk again and Zhengxue Street turned

31/07/07 3:00:31


The change of Xi’an's Zhengxue street

Fig. 1 Location of Zhengxue Street

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into the center of slogan-making������������������������� �������������������������������������� in the city to cater ��������� to� the demand�������������� s������������� of politics. From��������������������������������������������� the����������������������������������������� 1980 s to the 1990 s private business��� es� developed in accordance������������������������� with China�������������� ’������������� s reform and opening-up policy. Some old shops on the street ����� took up their �������������������������������������������������� traditional business������������������������ es again,��������������� such as stone plate printing, stamp carving, etc. ������������������ Their example was followed by��������������������������������������������� more and more families. Especially with the participation of the young people, the new concept����� s���� of business administration and new technolog���������������� ies������������� were widely used. After ��������������������������������������������� a�������������������������������������������� last printing ����������������������������� run ������������������������� in 1984, the stone plate printing business �������������������������������������������� on ����������������������������������� Zhengxue Street came to an end. W������������������������������������������������������� ith the spread and application of computer technology, business in �������������������������������������������������� the street attained a golden age��������������� . As the form, size and ������������������������������������������������� volume������������������������������������������� of business gr���������������������������� ew,������������������������� the �������������������� market for its products������������������������������������������������������ extended �������������������������������������������� to������������������������������������������ Xi��������������������������������������� ’�������������������������������������� an as ����������������������������������� a whole ������������������������ and �������������������� most of the central �������� area of Shaanxi. ����������������������������������� Eventual��������������������������� ly, Zhengxue Street became specialized������������������������������������������������ in��������������������������������������������� signage �������������������������������������������� (����������������������������������� signboards, scrolls, streamers and silk banners��������������������������������������������� ) and���������������������������������������� one of the most characteristic streets in the historical city of Xi����������������������� ’���������������������� an (see fig����������� s���������� . 3������� �������� to 5�� ��� )�. W������������������������������������������������� hen construction on �������������������������������� the expansion of ��������������� West Street and the ������������������������������������������������� resettlement������������������������������������� of the inhabitants started in April 2001, Zhengxue Street faced its����������������������� �������������������������� biggest change ������� in����� cen���� turie���������������������������������������������������� s. ������������������������������������������������� Fortunately, an���������������������������������� appeal �������������������������� by������������������������ experts and the timely inter�������������������������������������������������������� vention������������������������������������������������� of the city authorities������������������������� permitted��������������� the buildings on the southwest side������������������������������� ����������������������������������� of the street to ���������������� be����������� preserved. O����������������������������������������������������� n the east side of ���������������������������������� the ������������������������������ Zhengxue District ������������ runs�������� Zhu Bashi Street����������������������������������������������� ,���������������������������������������������� which has been famous since the Ming dynasty for its business������������������������������������������� es����������������������������������������� selling all kinds of bamboo ������������ furnishings� from the south of ������������������������������������� the Shaanxi. ��������������������������������� “Z���������������������� ������������������������ hu Ba-shi������������� ”������������ in Chinese refers to the market of bamboo products������������� ��������������������� . ����������� During the early part������������������������������������������������� of the last century, ��������������������������� when����������������������� Nan Yuan-men District and the surrounding �������������������������������� neighborhoods������������������� were the downtown area of Xi���������������������������������������������� ’��������������������������������������������� an, Zhu Ba-shi Street was ������������������� well known��������� for its highly�������������������������������������������������� ������������������������������������������������� reputed old shops like the �������������������������� Da ���������������������� Ren-tang Drugstore and the ������������������������������������������������� Wang ��������������������������������������������� Tong-chang Writing Materials Store. The shaft of a traditional Chinese writing brush is made of bamboo���������������������������������������������� , and so�������������������������������������� the stationery business there was an� ��� extension of the trade on Zhengxue Street. The layout���� ���������� of most of the ����������������������������������������������� bamboo ������������������������������������������� furnishings stores along the street was a��������������������������������������������������� ���������������������������������������������������� store��������������������������������������������� front���������������������������������������� with a workshop ����������������������� in the back������������ . ���������� T��������� he south side��������������������������������������������������� of Zhu Ba-shi Street is �������������������������� presently flanked ���������������� by many shops, grocer������������������������������������������ y store����������������������������������� s and restaurants, like Fan Clan��� ’��s Rou Jia-mo Restaurant��������������������������������� ,�������������������������������� which specialize��������������� s�������������� in a �������� popular� local sandwich-like snack. W���������������������������� ����������������������������� hen the first �������������� movie theater� in Xi�������������������������������������������������� ’������������������������������������������������� an was opened on Zhu Ba-shi Street in June 1932, business along the street flourish���������������������� ed�������������������� . After������������� the��������� 1950 s,

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Xiao Li


Fig. 2 Plan of building structures in 1998

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Fig. 3 North entrance of the street in 1998. Fig. 4 The rhythm of the street. Fig. 5 The space of characters in 2001.

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The change of Xi’an's Zhengxue street

the street business dec���������������������������������� lin������������������������������� ed because the business center of the city was changing and bamboo furnishings were less in demand�������������������������������������� . For ������������������������������������ that reason, fr����������������� om 1970 to 1990, many shops changed ����������������������������������������� ��������������������������������� to wooden furnishings business��� es� and even formed furniture compan����������������������� ies�������������������� , and ������������������ with that the ���� street market was prosperous ��������������������������� again for ��������������������� a time. ��������� Today���� ,a modern stationery factory has replaced �������������� the Wang ���������� Tongchang Writing Materials Store������������������������� ,������������������������ the furni�������������� ture���������� business along the street ���������������������������������������� is not fashion�������������������������� ��������������������������������� able���������������������� , the street business is mediocre�������������������������� ���������������������������������� and the traffic is heavy. O������������������������������������������������ n the south ������������������������������������ end �������������������������������� of Zhengxue District is Ma Fangmen Street, which ������������������������������������� housed the stables������������������� of the provincial government �������������������������������������������� during�������������������������������������� the Qing dynasty. T������������������ ������������������� h����������������� is i������������� s also where the name of the street came ���������������������������� from : t�������������������� he old stable������� s were� on the north side of the street. I����������������������� ������������������������ n 1889, the ��������������� ����������� Xi��������� ’�������� an Post Service Department was set up near the south ������� end���� of Zhengxue Street����������������������������������������������  ; this��������������������������������������� was the very ������������������������������ first ������������������������� post office in the city. In the yard of the former Shaanxi Provincial Library� there is another well-known building called Liang Baolou, which in Chinese means the building of ������������� the ��������� treasure�show. During the last period of the Qing dynasty, when the empress dowager Cixi ended her exile and returned to Beijing, the valuables and the tribute she left in Xi���� ’��� an were kept in the building for exhibition. The building was ���� turned into ��������������������������������������������� a�������������������������������������������� cultural center for the ������������������� populace����������� under����� ���������� the Republic. ����������������������������������������������� T���������������������������������������������� he local authorities ������������������������� have since��������������� developed����� �������������� the surrounding area and built a��������� ���������� library. E����������������������������������������������������� arly in the Tang dynasty, when Xi�������������������� ’������������������� an was established as the capital city and ���������������������������������� given the name���������������� Chang���������� ’��������� an, West Street was ���������������������������������������������� already in existence�������������������������� . ������������������������ B����������������������� ut the name, the width and the section of the street were�������������������� ������������������������ changed constantly throughout its������������������������������������������ long history. West����������������������� ��������������������������� S��������������������� ���������������������� treet was ��������������� the ����������� fourth� ������� of the ��������������������������������������������������� streets running ������������������������������������������� from ����������������������������������� west to east in the ���������� F��������� orbidden C������������������������������������������������������ ity of the Tang dynasty. F���������������������������� ����������������������������� rom the Song dynasty to the Qing dynasty, the main government offices of the city were located ������������������������������������������ on���������������������������������������� the north side of the street, and many reputable old shops were situated �������������������������������� there������������������ . West Street has always been an important ����������������������������� transportation��������������� �������������� route��������� and the central shopping �������������������������������������� area���������������������������������� of the city since ancient times. From the end of the Ming dynasty to the beginning of the Qing dynasty, West Street was built of stone slabs. T��������������������������������������������������������� hen, in 1926, the street was repaired and the ����������� flagstones� were removed. In 1936, the street was wi���������� ������������ dened and rebuilt with������������������������������������������ ���������������������������������������������� crushed cobblestone. �������������������� I������������������� n 1953, the street was expanded again and ����������������������������� covered���������������������� with concrete�������� , while the sidewalks ���������������������������������������� were ����������������������������������� paved with square bricks and lined with Chinese scholar-trees on �������������������������� both���������������������� sides. Al������������ �������������� though some

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Fig. 6 The character of the street.

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The change of Xi’an's Zhengxue street

buildings were d���������������������������������� e��������������������������������� molished������������������������� and reconstruct��������� ed������� , West Street was the only street ������������������������������������ that������������������������� had �������������������� been well ���������� preserved� and kept��������������������������������������������������� its historical integrity. ������������������������ U����������������������� nfortunately����������� ,���������� in 2001, when��������������������������������������������������� West Street was thoroughly re��������������������� -modeled,������������ all of the old buildings, the trees and the former scale, size and scenery of the street disappeared.

Features and Values Fig. 7 Diagram of the courtyard plans in Zhengxue District

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S����������������������������������������������������� ince the Ming and Qing dynasties Zhengxue Street ���� has accurately reflected ��������������������������������������������� the ������������������������������� structure���������������������� and the ������������� evolution���� of the ������������������������������������������������������ traditional business and living environment in Xi����� ’���� an. The typif�������������������������������������������������� ication������������������������������������������� and the representation of the street will help people to understand and study the traditional shopping areas, streets and business buildings in ������ Xi’��� an in the��������������������������� present and in the future�. The stores in ����������������������������������������� Zhengxue Street and the buildings in the district have the features that���������������������� �������������������������� were the ���������������� most ������������ common and abundant �������������������������������������� during�������������������������������� the Ming and Qing dynasties in Xi��������������������������������������������������������� ’�������������������������������������������������������� an. The ������������������������������������������������ typical organization���������������������������� of the buildings along the two sides of Zhengxue Street �������������������������� i������������������������� s a shop downstairs with living quarters������������������������������������������ �������������������������������������������������� upstairs��������������������������������� . T������������������������������ he traditional pattern ��������������� of the business buildings that��������������������������������� ������������������������������������� flank��������������������������� ed������������������������� the other three streets in the district ���������������������������������������� wa�������������������������������������� s a shop ����������������������������� in the front����������������� with a���������� ����������� workshop in the back������������������������������������������ , connected ���������������������������������������� to one ��������������������������� or �������������������� several������������� courtyards. These two types �������������������������������������� we������������������������������������ re the main structur���������������� al�������������� form��������� s�������� of the traditional business buildings ������������������������ during������������������ the Ming and the Qing dynasties in Xi���������������������������������� ’��������������������������������� an. If we assume����������������� ����������������������� that ���������������� ����������� the la����� tter layout������������������������������������������������� ������������������������������������������������ also came��������������������������������������� from housing�������������������������� , that is to say from the very beginning�������������������������������������������� , ������������������������������������������ then ������������������������������������� the buildings and the ��������������� layouts�������� in the district imposed������������������������������������� �������������������������������������������� the character of commerce, economy, purposed uses and location of site���������������������� s��������������������� �������������������� as������������������ the main factors in�������������������������������������������������������� the emergence and the limitation of the buildings. The integrity of ��������������������������������������������� its ����������������������������������������� historical environment and the preserved building structures are the most important ���������������� characteristics� of Zhengxue Street and give ��������������������������������� it its significance��������� ��������������������� (fig.6)� ��������. The endur���������������������������������������������� ing features ��������������������������������� of the ������������������������������ abovementioned������������ ����������� points����� ���� are� concentrated����������������������������������������������� in the far-flung history of Zhengxue Street��� ’��s development. The ������������������������������������������ pictorial record�������������������������� �������������������������������� is scant����������������� , but the status and character����������������������������������������������� istics����������������������������������������� of the street �������������������������� permitted����������������� Zhengxue Street to have��������������������������������������������������� a relative���������������������������������������� ly�������������������������������������� slow and stable situation during the city��������������������������������� ’s evolution��������������������� until��������������� �������������������� the year 2001.

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Fig. 8 Construction year of buildings

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Fig. 9 Matou wall Fig. 10 Sharing wall Fig. 11 North entrance of the street – 2001

The change of Xi’an's Zhengxue street

The regularity and �������������������������������������� uniformity���������������������������� of the buildings along the street make up the distinctive features of the spaces and environment of Zhengxue Street. The ����������������� pictorial�������� record help�������������������������������������������������� s������������������������������������������������� us to know and imagine the history and the ����� past environment.����������������������������������������������� By looking at��������������������������������� the regularity of its �������������� layout ���������� ��� on a������������������������������������������������������� map �������������������������������������������������� we can�������������������������������������������� reconstruct�������������������������������� ������������������������������������������� Zhengxue Street and������������ its ����������� block��s� plan from����������������������������������������������� a��������������������������������������������� ���������������������������������������������� century������������������������������������� �������������������������������������������� ago��������������������������������� in our imagination (see fig. 7)�. The perspective ������������������������������������ aspect ����������������������������� of the street ��������������� did not�������� matter� when���������������������������������������������������� canvass�������������������������������������������� ing����������������������������������������� customers, laying out finished products� or half����������������������������������������������������� –���������������������������������������������������� finished products waiting �������������������������� to������������������������ be refined������������� . The ������� people of this street made the best use the street spaces, which formed the particular appearance��������������������� ������������������������������� of Zhengxue Street. When people are ����������������������������������������� ������������������������������������� walk��������������������������������� ing ����������������������������� through ��������������������� the word forest, composed of high ���������������������������������������������� or low, huge or small ������������������������� Chinese characters of different colors and materials, the street becomes especially lively and interesting�. Cultural feature : �������������������������������������� d������������������������������������� uring ������������������������������� its���������������������������� ��������������������������� thousand year�������������� ������������������ s of recorded� history, th������������������������������������������������ is���������������������������������������������� small street has experienced both prosperity and decline���������������������������������������������������� . Its����������������������������������������������� prosperity ����������������������������������� is��������������������������������� closely related to ������������� “c����������� haracter��� ”��. The street crosses the major avenue of the city, but is far away from the bustle of traffic. It ������������������������ was the ���������������� neighbor o������ f����� the government offices area ���������������������������� through��������������������� many dynasties������ ,����� but remain�������������������������������������������������� ed������������������������������������������������ a ��������������������������������������������� place of residence ������������������������������������ for the average ������������������ and therefore����������������������������������������������������� show������������������������������������������������ s����������������������������������������������� the culture of the ������������������������������� ordinary ��������������������������� citizens of������� ��������� Xi���� ’��� an. Feature of lifestyles and values : the lifestyle and value��s� of people in Zhengx��������������������������������� ue ������������������������������ S����������������������������� treet may seem to lag behind those of an i������������������������������������������� �������������������������������������������� ndust�������������������������������������� r������������������������������������� ial society, but not by much. People usually had their stores in the front or downstairs ��������������� and the���������������������������������������������������������� ir living quarters���������������������������������������� behind or upstairs, so they could work at home. They preferred �������������������������������������������� to�������������������������������� work and live in a traditional way ����������������������������������������������������� rather ���������������������������������������������� th�������������������������������������������� a������������������������������������������� n ����������������������������������������� to have���������������������������������� a life of �������������������������� luxury ���������������� and ������������ overconsumption�������������������������������������������������������  ; they sought a simple life, but not lacking in������� ��������� human� ������ digni���������������������������������������������������� t��������������������������������������������������� y�������������������������������������������������� . T����������������������������������������������� hey regarded their work and family as ������������ a whole,� such that������������������������������������������������ work ������������������������������������������ was not separate, but an integral��������� part of their family lives. In a diverse downtown area, the ����������� ������� people of Zhengxue ����������������������������������������� Street were determined to keep their own lifestyle and values�. The existence and vitality ������������������������������������������ of������������������������������� Zhengxue Street was ���������� a product� of�������������������������������������������������������� millennia-��������������������������������������������� ������������������������������������������������������� old street����������������������������������� patterns�������������������������� and structures ��������������������� that were preserved through the centuries��������������������������� . Generations of people in Zhengxue Street kept on adapting��������������������������� ����������������������������������� their �������������������� business activities� to ������������������������������������������������������ maintain ��������������������������������������������� their position ������������������������������ throughout�������������������� the reforms of the society and �������������������������������������������� the passage of time������������������������� . The continuous history of Zhengxue Street has left a precious ���������������������� legac����������������� y to Xi���������� ’��������� an city, to the people ���������������������������������������� of today������������������������� ������������������������������ and��������������������� those of the�������� future.

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The street space and the buildings The composition and texture of the spaces in the Zhengxue District There are two architectural forms in Zhengxue Street������  :���� a)� r������������������������������������������������������������ o����������������������������������������������������������� ws of traditional ����������������������������������������� enclosed �������������������������������� courtyard����������������������� s���������������������� ��������������������� covering������������� m����������� o���������� st of the street area������������������������������������������������� ,������������������������������������������������ b)��������������������������������������������� houses �������������������������������������������� adjacent to the streets. This ������� latter form can usually be found along the two sides of Zhengxue Street and on ���������������������������������������������� the ������������������������������������������� southeast and northeast corner��������� s�������� of����� ������� the street area. In the ���������������������������������������� ������������������������������������ Zhengxue District, back������������� ����������������� yards facing

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n����������������������������������������������������� orth, ����������������������������������������������� e���������������������������������������������� ast or s�������������������������������������� ��������������������������������������� outh���������������������������������� are������������������������������ the most typical traditional commercial and residential structure����������� s���������� in Xi���� ’��� an. The traditional courtyard and architecture always followed the feudal���������������������������������������� order of its time. During�������������� the Ming and Qing dynasties the number of rooms represented their owner��������������������������������������������������������� s’������������������������������������������������������� status������������������������������������������������ ,����������������������������������������������� and courtyards with five rooms we������������� ��������������� re ra�������� r������� e ; on the contrary, yards with three rooms could easily be found during th���������������������������������������������������� ose������������������������������������������������� particular ������������������������������������������������ ������������������������������������� period������������������������������� s������������������������������ . ���������������������������� W��������������������������� ealthy famil��������������� ies������������ could have courtyards ������������������������������������������������� with��������������������������������������������� a very ������������������������������������������ ������������������������������������� large area, many rooms��������������� ,�������������� ������������� both��������� primary and secondary���������������������������������������������� , as������������������������������������������ a wide span south ����������������������������� ����������������������� is the best choice for a house. This may be the reason why the wide yards were always located on������������������������������ �������������������������������� the south side ������������������� of �������������� the ����������� street. �������

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The change of Xi’an's Zhengxue street

According to ������������������������������������������� the������������������������������������� historical record, Zhengxue Academy attracted a ������������������������������������������� large�������������������������������������� number of dealers in����������������� ������������������� stationery������ ,����� and during�������������������������������������������������� the Song dynasty shops were built along Zhengxue Academy and the ���������������������������������������� Xingping ������������������������������������ Prince Mansion. The offic�� e� area������������������������������������������������� fell apart when��������������������������������� ������������������������������������� the dynasty disappeared and the courtyards evolved as time went ������������������������� by������������������ and their owners changed. The district obviously kept the structure and outer������������������������������������������������ texture of the courtyards ��������������������� of������������������� the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The ���������������������������������������� most obvious alteration of Zhengxue ��������� Street��������������������������������������������������� occurred with the appearance of modern multistory industrial constructions and apartment buildings since the 1950 s, thus eradicating the traditional structure�.

place for brief ��������������������������������������������������� social interaction for �������������������������� many ���������������������� years������������ . ���������� Similarly there was a�������������������������������������������� public tap at the south ������������������� end of ��������������� the street. People gathered here, collecting������������������������ ���������������������������������� water, washing clothes and talking to each other happily. Most of the buildings along the street are private. A few buildings belong to the Housing Department. There is not the ���������������������������������������������� hustle ������������������������������������������ and bustle that�������������������� ������������������������ commonly exists in other commercial areas. This ���������������������������� firmly established���������� business culture and harmony among the neighbors seldom exists in the modern cities of ��������� today�.

Zhengxue Street Zhengxue Street���������������������������������������� , which is eight meters wide,����������� is a rare ����� narrow street��������������������������������������������� ��������������������������������������������������� in the city��������������������������������� . For its three meters of street width, few ����������������������������������������������� bicycles can ������������������������������ be seen there����������������� . The ����������� tall trees on either side of this narrow street constitute a unique feature of Zhengxue Street’s proportions�. Studies�������������������������������������������������� show that the buildings along the street did �������� no��t change very much ������������������������������������ between����������������������������� 1995������������������������ and ������������������� 1998. According to calculation������������������������������������������������ s,���������������������������������������������� 88 % of the house���������������������������� s��������������������������� ar������������������������ �������������������������� e traditional building��s� and������������������������������������������������������� all well preserved. Among them������������������������ ,����������������������� 12 % of the buildings were built in ������������������������������������������� the 1950 s��������������������������������� ���������������������������������������  ;������������������������������� only one building������������� ,������������ the public convenience i��������������������������������������������� ���������������������������������������������� n the middle of the street������������������� ,������������������ was built in the ���� 1980 s���������� (fig.���� ��������� 8�� )�. All the buildings along the street have two floors�������� . ������ There is little drop in elevation between the������������������� m������������������ and the surface��s� of the �������������������������������������������������������� building�������������������������������������������� ���������������������������������������������������� s������������������������������������������� are f������������������������������������� la����������������������������������� t and even������������������������� ,������������������������ but the Hui Matou-����� wall stand������������������������������������������������������� s������������������������������������������������������ erect and rise��������������������������������������� s�������������������������������������� like a tower������������������������� .������������������������ ����������������������� T���������������������� he Matou-wall divides �������� the������������������������������������������������������� street ����������������������������������������������� into������������������������������������������� rhythmic���������������������������������� spaces. On����������������������� Zhengxue S������������ ������������� treet t����� ������ here should be 40 Matou wall��������������������������������� s, and��������������������������� 25 were ����������������������� still standing���� in the 1970 s. �������������������������������������������� However, now there are only 13 left. ����� There is�������������������������������������� a������������������������������������ length of ���������������������������� ������������������������� about 2.5 meters between Zhengxue ������������������������������������������������ S����������������������������������������������� treet������������������������������������������ ’����������������������������������������� s ��������������������������������������� flats���������������������������������� and the street������������������� surface����������� , which is used to display�������������������������������������������� ��������������������������������������������������� the shopkeeper����������������������������� ’���������������������������� s products������������������ ,����������������� different kinds of services����������������������������������������������� ,���������������������������������������������� or even as a place for making and processing products. People set up rain shelters under the roofs along the street. The rain shelters not only ������������� protect from� sunburn���������������������������������������������� s��������������������������������������������� and rain, but also form a space. When it is sunny, the slogans and flags marked with characters fly in����������������������������������������������������������� the wind over��������������������������������������������� ������������������������������������������������� the street. The street is filled with words of����������������������������������������������� different size�������������������������������� s, which ����������������������������� makes a fabulous sight� ������. There wa����������������������������������������� ������������������������������������������� s a tap by the �������������������������� public convenience ������������������� i������ ������� n the middle part of the street����������������������������� ����������������������������������� before ��������������������� the 1950 s����������� ����������������� ,���������� when the domestic supply was installed.������������������������� There is a well near���� by. Since��������������������������������������������������� the �������������������������������������������������� ���������������������������������������������� people all use the water ��������������������� there���������������� ,��������������� it������������ has been a

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The buildings in the Zhengxue District Despite the differences at the southern and northern ends of the street, the buildings in the middle section are all three open rooms on two floors (only one building has two open rooms). There is little difference in the height of the floors from the front to the back. As a rule, the length of most of the buildings is between 4.1 and 5.7 m. The width also varies between 2.6 and 3 meters, with the widest being 3.2 meters and the narrowest 2.3 meters. All the buildings are made of wood. The fronts of the buildings have wooden windows and doors. The doors on the first floor are movable, to reduce the separation between the inside and the outside during business hours. The other three sides of the buildings are made of mud covered with bricks. The������������������������������������������������������� ������������������������������������������������������ projecting�������������������������������������������� part of the gable, which is decorat�������� ive����� and finished with������������������������������������������ black bricks, is commonly called��������� a Ma���� t��� ou�wall�������������������������������������������������� (see �������������������������������������������� f������������������������������������������� ig. 9)������������������������������������� . The ����������������������������������� unique shape of ��������������� the Matou-wall ����������� has turned it into a symbol of the traditional commercial buildings of���������������������������������������������� ������������������������������������������������ the Ming and Qing ��������������������������� d�������������������������� ynasties. The top part of the ���������������������������������������������������� Matou-wall, which is higher than ������������������� the ��������������� cornice, ������ has a� distinctive ������������������������������������������������ formulation������������������������������������� . This curve-shaped part is not only� used����������������������������������������������������� for draining off rainwater and ��������������������� decoration����������� , but also has����������������������������������������������������� another �������������������������������������������� associ�������������������������������������� ation in ����������������������������� the folklore, ������������������������� which involves ��������� a play of��������������������������������������������� image��������������������������������������� s,������������������������������������� pronunciation and significance. The shape is like ������������������������������������������������ ������������������������������������������� a coffin����������������������������������� , a�������������������������������� nd the word ������������������������� “������������������� coffin������������� ”������������ in Chinese is pronounced “��������������������������������������� ���������������������������������������� Guan Cai������������������������������� ”������������������������������ , which sounds like����������� ��������������� the words for “����������������������������������������������������� official��������������������������������������������� ”�������������������������������������������� and ��������������������������������������� “�������������������������������������� fortune������������������������������� ”������������������������������ . With this simple and direct image and ���������������������������������������������� its implic������������������������������������ ation������������������������������� s������������������������������ , the ���������������������������� Matou-wall ������������������������ displays����� ������������� the auspicious ideal������������������������������������������ s����������������������������������������� of the ������������������������������������� ��������������������������������� business ������������������������ people������������������ in ancient China and the difference������������������������������������������ s����������������������������������������� with������������������������������������ ���������������������������������������� the residential buildings in Xi���� ’��� an during the same age. The gable related with the Matou-wall is commonly called a fire-wall in Xi’an, since it had the function of fire-protection. In Chinese, “fire” sounds the same as “company and sharing”. Therefore it is actually called

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Xiao Li


a “sharing-wall” (see fig. 10). The wall separates and sustains the weight of the buildings on two sides, which not only saves on building materials, and utilizes space and money effectively, but also keeps rainwater from leaking and destroying the walls between the buildings. In addition, it demonstrates the techniques of building construction along Zhengxue Street and their consistency through time. In a���������������������������������������������� nalyzing the difference of ������������������� the room-depth����� ��������������� s���� of buildings along the street, there is no denying that the one-time construction of all the buildings ��������������� did������������ not result from the government, but ������������������������ from�������������������� the economical and construction rules formed ������������������������ through����������������� compromise������ s����� and concession�������������������������������������������� s������������������������������������������� by���������������������������������������� ������������������������������������������ the merchants on the street who�������� ����������� agreed� and��������������� followed �������������� them�.

Concep������������� t and changes Based on the attention ������������������������������������������� ��������������������������������� and research �������������������� devoted to���������� Zhengxue Street from 1992 ������������������������������������ until������������������������������� now, ������������������������� t������������������������ he Architecture College of the ������������������������������������� Xi������������������������������� ��������������������������������� ’������������������������������ an University of Architecture & �� Technology ��������������� has ���� create������������������������������������������������� d a new design course focusing on the context of architectural design. It aims to strengthen the teachers��’� and students��������������������������������������������� ’�������������������������������������������� understanding ����������������������������� of��������������������������� social identity, cultural character and ��������������������������������������������� the ����������������������������������������� historical character of architecture����� . It also intends to enhance������������������������������������� their ability ���������������������� to�������������������� explor������������� e������������ the source of the city’s ���������������������������������������������������� ��������������������������������������������� history and culture�������������������������� ,������������������������� and analyz�������������� e������������� , ����������� record����� and show the architectural sequence of������������������������ �������������������������� the environment of the city as ����������������������������������������������������� a ������������������������������������������������ whole. We tried to find the beauty and value of the street��������������������������������������������������� in spite of��������������������������������������� its state of dirty ������������������������� confusion���������� ������������������� — which made it seem rundown���������������������������������� in the ������������������������������ eyes of many people — and� ���� to�������������������������������������������������� imagine a���������������������������������������� ����������������������������������������� rosy future for ��������������������������� it time���������������� and time������� ����������� again.[1] Today, the changes in Zhengxue Street are still underway, but the inhabitant of this street hope to move back there and continue their work and lives after the reconstruction in the Zhengxue District has been completed (fig. 11).

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1. The theme of the 17 th UIA International Competition for Students of Architecture is “Urban Housing for the 21 st Century”. The contest asked for designs for the places, which are faced with the challenge of decreasing environmental quality. This is also the question for Zhengxue Street.

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Throughout history urban planning and the creation of urban form worldwide have been, on the one hand, measures of implementing national politics and, on the other, the physical expression and representation of social structures. The standard Roman garrison pattern as a vehicle of colonization, the different physical expressions of royal power in European cities, the new industrial towns of the Soviet Union in Siberia, and the North American chessboard downtowns formed by real estate developers in a liberal market economy are well-known examples outside China. In the Chinese sphere corresponding links between plan, urban form and policy have been evident. “The city protects the emperor, the city walls control the people” is a quotation illustrating measures by the ruling class to stay in power for millennia, until the rise of modern China in the 20 th century. The interplay between Master Plans and the 5-year plans of the People’s Republic since 1949 has been the modern tool for linking urban plans and politics. The last articles in this book deal with the plan-policy phenomenon of Xi’an on different levels : on the international level — the transfer of the urban pattern from China to Japan in the Tang dynasty and its transformation under new socio-cultural conditions (Nicolas Fiévé) — on the national level — Xi’an’s role in China (Pierre Clément) — and on the local level — the Hui minority as an urban subculture of the city (Harald Høyem). China was always a centrally-governed country, organized and managed strictly and consistently along hierarchical lines. Urban planning and development have as a natural consequence been closely linked to the politics of the ruling power, be it the imperial court of the past or the leadership of the Communist Party of the present. Cities and towns have been the seats of power on different levels of the imperial hierarchy. Codes and standards, even on the architectural level, have been used to develop, control and unify this vast country. The creation of new and the transformation of old cities have always been considered to be an integral part of and a tool for carrying out substantial changes in state affairs. As symbols of power and national order and hegemony, the capitals of the nation had a unique position by housing the Emperor and displaying a pattern in which the city reflected the “�������������������������������������������������������������������������� will to insist on the celestial origin of the dynasty : the exaltation of the figure of the Emperor, separating him from the rest of a subjected and hierarchical population”, as Nicolas Fiévé writes in his article. He describes and analyses in detail the exportation of urban culture from Xi’an (Chang’an) to Japan. For a couple of centuries during the Tang dynasty, the Japanese emperors sent missions to Xi’an to learn

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Xi’an – an ancient city in a modern world

and copy the Chinese governing culture and the measures of carrying out the imperial order–among them the city planning models. Cities like Fujiwarakyô, near Nara, and Heiankyô (Kyoto) were built according to the Chang’an urban pattern. Fiévé’s article then compares the further development of Xi’an and ����������������������������������� Kyoto, pointing at differences and similarities in the cultural understanding of the cities. It is an interesting illustration of the potential of urban pattern as an element of cultural colonization, and how local adaptations change the content of a general model. Harald Høyem offers a background understanding of the evolution of the Hui identity and its relation to the Han Chinese culture. On different levels of physical appearance, from localisation and grouping patterns to the use of ornaments, the identity is traced in the urban form of today, demonstrating how the minority and the majority have found a kind of balance in the design and use of the urban space. The physical representation of cultural identity is, of course, just a part of the comprehensive expressions of culture. It demonstrates, however, the political dimension as well as the contradictions linked to this ethnic minority and its role in the urban development. As Pierre Clément describes in his article, Xi’an always had an important role to play in Chinese society. He emphasises the city’s role as the reflection of an urban project–as an architectural, formal, symbolic and political project, describing the historic development of the walled cities and the urban development as acts of territorial claiming. Xi’an’s political role throughout history is reflected, including today, when Xi’an is characterised as a spearhead for the present efforts to balance the economic inequalities between the more and the lesser developed regions of the country. This book raises a series of questions for the future. How will the urban form of Xi’an develop in the coming decades ? Which challenges will be of major importance in the continuous transformations : land policy ? infrastructural improvements at a large scale ? growth based on development of urban satellites ? new building types ? environmental problems ? access to natural and man-made resources ? the eradication of historical footprints ? Briefly put, in the spirit of this book : what role will urban form play in the identity formation of the future Xi’an ?

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Chang’an, model capital and model of capitals

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Since the first millennium before the Christian era, the ideal capital in ancient China, as residence of the Emperor, had to be at the center of the universe near the miraculous tree called the “Standing Wood”. At midday, nothing upright standing near it could cast any shadow on it, because the marvelous tree of Chinese mythology, which was associated with the Emperor, grew at the center of the universe, the place where the Emperor had to live. This tree united the Nine Springs and the Nine Heavens, the Underworld and its Celestial Sphere. Thus for the Chinese, the ideal capital was located at the center of the Universe, where the three cosmic zones intersected the Sky, the Earth and the Hells (Granet 1934 : 324). Oriented according to the cardinal points, the imperial capitals imposed a center on the geographical extent of the territory : a center of the world by which the universalis columna passed, connecting the Earth and the Sky and pointing straight at the Polar Star. At the center of this composition, which was associated with the Polar Star, was the seat of the Emperor, the supreme pivot between the Sky and the Earth. He stood symbolically for the axis of the universe and, as such, for the axis of the Empire. His capital was the ontological point of transition by which the divine power penetrated the profane world and spread in the four cardinal directions throughout the kingdom (Wheatley 1971 : 428). In China, and then in the entire sinicized Far East, the practitioners of divination determined, with the help of the Taoists principles of Yin and Yang and the theory of the Five Elements, a favorable site that was protected by mountains and well supplied with water. The suitable location of the palace of the Son of Heaven �(Tianzi) was to be in harmony with the Four cardinal divinities : the Blue Dragon (�Qinglong)� in the east, the White Tiger �(Baihu) ��������������������� in the west, the Red Bird �(Zhuque) in ������������������������������������ the south and the Black Warrior �(Xuanwu) in the north. Natural sites, such as mountains, lakes, and major roads were associated with figures of the cosmography. It was considered favorable when water flowed on both sides of the palace so that negative energy could be evacuated. These elements based on ancient sources and belief systems show the pragmatism that animated the Chinese designers in the beginning : the mountains protected against violent winds and against invasions from nomads coming from the northern and western steppes ; the rivers supplied the inhabitants with water, permitted the irrigation of the gardens and cultivated land, while ensuring good drainage of waste water.

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1. For the French translation, Edouard Biot, Le Tcheou-li ou rites des Tcheou, Imprimerie Nationale, Paris 1860, pp. 553-554.

Chang’an, model capital and model of capitals

When a capital was established according to the manual of crafts (Kaogong ji) of the Rites of Zhou (Zhouli), the builders (jiangren) leveled the building land with water. By using a hanging cord they set up a pole and observed its shadow. By tracing a circle, they observed the shadows at sunrise and sunset. During the day, they connected the midday shadow on different days, and at night, they observed the Polar Star ; thus they determined the east and the west. Then the builders outlined the site of the capital, a square with sides of nine li. Each side had three gates. Nine straight and nine transversal avenues crossed the plan. An Ancestral Temple (zong miao or tai miao) was placed to the east, an altar devoted to the God of Land (tan she) and Grain (tan ji) to the west, the audience hall to the south and a market (Zhouli, Kaogong ji, juan 2) to the north.[1] In the first millennium of our era, the Chinese outlined the layout of an ideal capital that was based at the same time on the principles of the ideal capital model elaborated in the Zhouli and on the results of various divinatory and geomantic traditions from antiquity.

To the southeast of the site of Xianyang, the ancient Han (206 BC - 8 AD) had built a first Chang’an with majestic walls ; they were over 12 meters high, 12 to 16 meters thick and 25.9 kilometers long. The urban layout fit in a rectangle, but the city had an irregularly shaped walled enclosure. A probable explanation could be that its construction rested on a pre-existing agglomeration and that the building of the city had already been started before the reign of the first emperor, Han Gaozu (206 -194 BC). The floods of the Wei and the already existing palaces Weiyang gong and Changle gong, whose outlines were dissymmetrical, could explain the shape of the enclosure on its southern side. The location of the three gates in each cardinal direction of the enclosure and the relative centrality of the palace were elements of composition according to the ideal model as defined in the Zhouli. Eight centuries later, the Sui (590-617) reunified the empire and decided to build a capital on a new and unprecedented scale. To the south of the Chang’an of the Han, at the foot of Longshou Mountain, a new site was determined by means of divination and astrology. The Sui emperors built Daxing, the construction and embellishment of which were continued by the Tang (618-907), who renamed it Chang’an. At the time of the building of Daxing-Chang’an, the pragmatic spirit of the designers placed the imperial palace, formed by the residential palace and the administrative palace, on the north side of the city, a position which did not correspond to the ideal model. The origin of this configuration would have been derived from the interpretation of the topography of the site, which the designers of the city based on the divination of Yijing, thus determining the principal urban layouts (Xiong, 2000 : 4353). There are other, more ancient examples of a northward shift of a palace site. But in the case of Chang’an, this layout had the advantage that the east-west axis of the Silk Road could pass nearly through the center of the city, while remaining on the southern side of the administrative palace. The residential palace was located more to the north, away from this very busy artery. Thus, the urban form of Chang’an was marked by two axes, intersecting to the south of the palace : a north-south ceremonial axis that connected the palace to the great southern gate of the city and the east-west axis of the Silk Road. The populations coming from the West settled in the western part of the capital, whereas the eastern part was in fact the real Chinese city. Along

The city of Chang’an The natural site of Chang’an is a plain that is encased in a corridor of mountains in which the Wei River flows eastwards into the Yellow River and through which passed the Silk Road, the main artery between the Eastern China of the Han and the West. The location of the capital allowed the control of this strategic axis. Since time immemorial the site had been urbanized. Archaeologists excavated two agglomerations located ten kilometers to the west. If the historical chronicles are to be believed, the sites probably corresponded to the two royal cities Feng and Hao, which date back to the Zhou dynasty (1122 ?-770 BC) and were built at the beginning of the first millennium by the kings Wen Wang and Wu Wang. To the north of the Wei River is the site of Xianyang, the capital of the emperor Shi Huandi, emperor from 221 to 210 ? BC, whose general ground plan was almost square. To the east of the plain lie the sacred mountain Huashan and its funerary sites.

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this axis, in the west, was a big market that received the merchandise of the caravans coming from the Middle East, whereas the market in the eastern half of the city was meant for Chinese wares. Each market was divided into nine districts. In the course of the centuries, religions coming from the West emerged in the western part of Chang’an : Zoroastrianism, the Manichean and Nestorian cults, then Islam, as well as various Buddhist schools. This hierarchy of urban space was perceptible throughout the history of Chang’an and is still retraceable in the contemporary city ; in the western part of the ancient center of Xi’an mosques are still being built. The outline of the city was relatively symmetrical, 9.72 kilometers from east to west and 8.65 kilometers from north to south. Originally, the enclosing wall had three gates on each side. The five additional gates mentioned on most of the ancient plans were made constructed in order to have access to the Daming gong and the inner park of the east that were built under the Tang. Three large enclosures delimited the urban space. Centered in the north, the wall of the residential palace (gongcheng) measured approximately 2.8 by 1.5 kilometers and had a thickness of 18 meters. To the south of this, the precincts of the administrative palace (huangcheng ; approximately 2.9 by 1.8 kilometers) included the various administrative buildings, the Temple of the Ancestors to the east (zong miao or tai miao), the mounds of the God of Land (tan she) and Grain (tan ji) to the west and several monasteries. Lastly, the great wall of the city delimited the urban extent with its avenues and residential areas. The broad avenue of the Red Bird (zhuque), of a width of 150 meters, led to the southern gate of the imperial palace and was lined on both sides by a threemeter broad channel. Other avenues, brick paved, led to the other gates of the city. The whole represented a regular grid pattern of perpendicular avenues : eleven large north-south avenues and fourteen east-west ; the latter being associated to the hexagram qian of Yijing, which symbolizes good fortune (Steinhardt, 1990 : 94 ; Xiong, 2000 : 47-9). The avenues delimited the districts. Each district was surrounded by a wall, with at least one gate on the west and east sides that was connected to a central avenue. During the night the districts were closed. Each district itself was divided into residential districts, properties of aristocrats or temples and monasteries. The inner tree-lined avenues were between twenty-two and forty

meters wide. At the southeastern corner of the city, the Qujiang pond and a vast park permitted the aristocracy to enjoy walks and gazebos. Although the city had more than one million inhabitants during the 7 th century, the entire area of eighty-four square kilometers was not entirely urbanized and there were fields inside the city.

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The Chinese model and the capitals of ancient Japan During ancient times (593-1185), the design of the Japanese imperial capitals was historically determined by the reforms attributed to Prince Shôtoku (574-622) and at the end of the 7 th century by the institution of the Ritsuryô kokka, i.e. “State based on law”. This political, social and economic organization based on the Chinese model was animated by the will to insist on the celestial origins of the dynasty : the exaltation of the figure of the Emperor, separating him from the subjected and hierarchically structured population. Parallel to the sinicization of the structures of the State, palaces and capitals were built whose architecture and scheduling placed the Emperor at the center of society, while expressing the sacred character of his lineage and its divine origins. That is what the implemented projects wanted to represent. Starting with Fujiwarakyô (694-710), the imperial city was based on the Chinese model. Until the 6 th century, the Japanese sovereigns did not reside in a permanent capital, as in China, but changed the sites of their palace at least once during their reign. Until the end of the 7 th century, the ancient insular concepts of space and time resisted the Chinese model. But soon the major stages of the sinicization of the society–-which meant the final adoption of the system of naming historical periods, Taihô era in 701, the promulgation of administrative and penal laws (701), and the first cremation of a sovereign (702)–-coincided more or less with the construction of the first capital, Fujiwarakyô. Because of the old vernacular practices of the abandonment (kito) and transfer (sento) of the palace as

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Chang’an, model capital and model of capitals

Fig. 1. Fujiwarakyô

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a periodical resort, especially during circumstances considered to be dangerous, the first Japanese capitals did not experience any organic growth that could have modified their shape. Fujiwarakyô (694-710) lasted only sixteen years. From 710 to 784, the Emperors stayed in Heijôkyô, the present-day Nara – at the same time as the more or less temporary capitals Kunikyô (740-744) and Naniwakyô (744-745). Although Nagaokakyô (784794) was built on a large scale, after ten years it was abandoned in favor of Heiankyô, today’s Kyôto, which was established in 794. Even though the long history of Heiankyô-Kyôto shows the marks of the continental influence on the Japanese city, the foundation of a new capital according to the Chinese model would last only two centuries. In 810, following a conspiracy aimed at restoring the retired emperor Heizei (806-809) to the throne and returning the court to Heijôkyô,[2]  it was decided to abolish the ancestral practice of palace transfer. Supporting this decision was the northern lineage of the Fujiwara, who sought to stabilize a favorable political distribution by ensuring the establishment of their power in Heiankyô. The official abolition of the practice of transfers already manifested a weakening of the spiritual power of the Emperor on behalf of the temporal power, as embodied by Fujiwara No Fuyutsugu (775-826) and his descendants. This historical evolution inaugurated a new era in the history of Japanese town planning : the foundation of capitals disappeared and, for the first time in the history of Japan, an organic evolution of the city could begin. Heiankyô, renamed Kyôto in the 12 th century, remained the capital of Japan for ten centuries. The Chinese model of the ideal capital was known to the Japanese through traditional texts, whereas the knowledge of real existing cities was known thanks to the accounts of missions returning from China. Between the years 600 and 779, seventeen missions were sent to China, including fifteen of considerable number. They went in general to Chang’ an, first passing through Luoyang, the capital of the east which had been built at the beginning of the 7 th century by the son of Sui Wendi. As in China, the Japanese capitals had a center formed by the precinct of the imperial palace grouping all administrative offices and the private residence of the Emperor. On the recommendation of a report dating from 724, the buildings, surrounded by a succession of walls and courtyards, were built according to the models of the

official Tang architecture. The urban area, apart from the palace, was dotted with aristocratic estates and encircled with cob walls. Like the Seiryôden, in which the Emperor resided, and the palaces of the court nobility, the residential architecture was inspired by Chinese architecture, but preserved the local techniques of construction : wooden structures on piles and roofs covered with cypress-bark shingles, hiwadabuki. In Japan, before the 7 th century, the gates of the imperial palace were named after each patron family. Although this practice was non-existent in China, except for the Red Bird Gate (zhuque), the “Chinese” way of naming was soon adopted. The names of the different buildings and courtyards of the palace were all sinicized, although only some of them could be found in China, sometimes going back to the dynasty of the Han or even to that of the Wei.[3] If one sticks to the comparison of layouts and scheduling, the broad outlines of the town planning of DaxingChang’an and the Japanese capitals could be described in the same terms. In spite of the common urban models, it seems that these cities were built on less similar morphological bases than it might appear at first glance, at least in the case of the most famous ones, Heijôkyô and Heiankyô.

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2. All the dates of the emperors cited in this article correspond to their years of reign. 3. For the old and new gate names, see Verchuer (1985), p. 239, note 84; for palace names, see idem, notes 85 and 86 and for the building names see our thesis (Fiévé, Nicolas, 1996 : pp. 281-303, Nomenclature) and Fiévé, Nicolas (ed.), 2007, Atlas historique de Kyôto, Paris, UNESCO-Maisonneuve et Larose, chapter I : Heiankyô).

Fujiwarakyô (694-710) The empress Jitô (690-697) built the first capital, a large-scale project, in keeping with the Chinese model. Fujiwarakyô, located 20 kilometers to the south of the present city of Nara, had a rectangular plan of exceptional dimensions for an entirely rural and non-urbanized country ; 4.8 kilometers from north to south and 5.3 kilometers from east to west. Thanks to the excavations carried out since 1934, and especially in 1966, the layout is rather well known. As in China, the city had a grid pattern formed by the crossing of nine north-south avenues and thirteen east-west avenues delimiting the districts, which were each divided into four quarters (chô). The avenues were 10.6 to 24.8 meters wide (30 and 70 large feet, daishaku). The central avenue, called the Red Bird, Suzaku-ôji, had a width of 31.9 meters (90 large feet). The imperial palace, at the center of the layout, covered a surface of sixty-four districts. In accordance with the Chinese model, it was surrounded by a wall that had three gates on each side that faced the cardinal directions. The population of Fujiwarakyô was

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Chang’an, model capital and model of capitals

could be an indication that the planners used Luoyang as a model instead of Chang’an.

Fig. 2. Kunikyô

estimated at only 20 or 30, 000 inhabitants, indicating that vast surfaces of the city were not truly urbanized, as archaeological excavations have confirmed. Fujiwarakyô was never surrounded by city walls and only remnants of ditches and cob walls were found. According to Nihonshoki (720), specialists in Yin and Yang theory chose the site, and the land was cleared by demolishing the old tombs. Important works of civil engineering were undertaken and a hill removed to construct the large central avenue. From a Japanese ideological point of view, the choice of the site was not unusual. The capital was located between three hills, which included Kaguyama in the east and Unebiyama in the west. The latter played a role in stories of the origins, which were known through a compilation that had been ordered by Emperor Tenmu (673-686). The first palace would have been built at the foot of Unebiyama and the first sovereign would have been buried to the north of this site. Unlike later capitals, the palace was not located at the northern end of the large north-south avenue, but at the center of the city. As specified in the Zhouli, this location was in accordance with the ideal model, and this

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Heijôkyô (710-784) For reasons unknown, Heijôkyô was built at the beginning of the reign of the empress Genmei (707-715). The intention probably was to build a new palace in order to mark the beginning of a new era. Heijôkyô was a little less spacious than the deserted city, but the urbanization, the prestigious buildings and the number of inhabitants — estimated at between 60,000 and 70,000 — were greater than in Fujiwarakyô. Many buildings, such as those of the Yakushiji and Daikandaiji monasteries, were dismantled and moved from the previous capital to the new site. The location of the palace, centered in the north of the city, probably indicates that it was in fact contemporary Chang’an that was used as model. The rectangular layout was approximately 4.3 kilometers from east to west and 4.8 kilometers from north to south, with an annex in the east that included the major monasteries : Kôfukuji, Gangôji and Tôdaiji, the site of present-day Nara. The large Red Bird Avenue, Suzakuôji, had a width of approximately 70 meters (200 large feet) and ended in the south at the Rashômon, the city wall gate, although the city never had any fortifications. Districts delimited by the large avenues, ôji, were subdivided into sixteen square quarters, chô, with a surface area of about 120 square meters. The major difference with Fujiwarakyô was the split structure of the palace. To the east of the location of the Daigokuden, the Imperial Audience Hall, from where the Emperor governed the state, was another site where the Daigokuden was rebuilt during a second phase of construction. To the south of these two sites were two courtyards (Chôdôin) with the buildings of the Eight administrative departments (Hasshôin). This configuration shows an adaptation of the Chinese model that gives Heiankyô the two parallel courtyards of the Chôdôin, dominated by the Daigokuden and the Burakuin, in which festivities were held. However, another might be be a system of ritual rebuilding that recalled those of the Shintô sanctuaries, as in Ise. Until 784 Heijôkyô remained the capital and at least until 794 buildings were probably maintained. Nine sovereigns succeeded each other, but this longevity was relative. Between 710 and 784, the sovereigns built five other palaces — Kunikyô, Shigaraki No miya,

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Fig. 3. Heijôkyô

Naniwakyô, Hora No miya and Yuge No miya--that were given the title of imperial capital, kôto. Nevertheless, while three of them were probably hardly more than a group of palaces, two deserve our attention. The construction of Kunikyô (740-744) was the result of an imperial transfer during a period of unrest that began with the revolt of Fujiwara No Hirotsugu (? -740). Its site was in a valley that did not seem to be very convenient for a capital. The reason why the eastern and western halves of the city were separated by a group of hills remains obscure. Anyway, the topography did not

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allow the placement of the palace in the center of the city, and so it was built in the northeastern corner. Three years after the establishement in Kuni, and although construction was not yet completed, the palace was again transferred in 743 – for a period of only a few months--to the site of Shigaraki, of which hardly any descriptions remain. In 744, a new capital was built in Naniwa, a site close to the trade routes along the inland sea, and on which former reigns had already had their palaces. It seems that Emperor Shômu (724-749) planned to have two capitals, one in

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4. In 785, Fujiwara no Tanetsugu was assassinated while inspecting the construction work. Following this event the imperial crown prince was suspected of complicity and forced to commit suicide.

Fig. 4. Nagaokakyô

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the east, Kunikyô, and the other in the west, Naniwakyô, but the idea was quickly abandoned and the Emperor moved back to Heijôkyô in 745. Nevertheless, thanks to its privileged location at the seaside, the site remained in use until the end of the Nara era (710-794). In 784, when Emperor Kanmu (781-806) transferred the capital from Heijôkyô to Nagaokakyô (784-794), in the district of Otokuni, the first materials used were those of the buildings of Naniwakyô, in particular the tiles. Nagaokakyô, the ground plan of which was very similar to that of the future Heiankyô, remained a capital for only ten years and was never finished. It is said that the desire to edge out the powerful Buddhist establishments of Heijokyô and to move away from the stage of the glory of the Tenmu lineage was responsible for this transfer. In other respects, there is no doubt that the site, situated on the banks of the Yodo River, a waterway flowing into the inland sea, was favorable from the point of view of communication. Indeed, at the time, the shipping of goods between the Sea of Japan and the inland sea was not done by sea, but rather by river-borne transport, across Lake Biwa and on the Yodo River. The choice of the locality of Nagaoka

itself is perhaps further understandable by the proximity of the family of Kanmu’s mother. His mother, Takano No Niigasa, belonged to the royal family of Paekche (Kudara in Japanese) and in this area there was the site of a Buddhist temple, Kudaraji, and a Shintô sanctuary, Kudaraô jinja, in which the cult of the ancestors of the royal family of Paekche was celebrated. Tensions at the court of the Emperor [4] and the drawbacks of the site, which was too exposed to the floods of the Katsura and Yodo rivers, finally forced Kanmu to a new and final transfer to Heiankyô. Heiankyô (794) As had been done for the previous capitals and according to Chinese models of the ideal site for a capital, practitioners of divination (Onmyôdô) determined a favorable site to build Heiankyô, the “capital of Peace and Tranquility”. This proved to be a vast plain in the shape of a basin, surrounded on the west, north and east sides by mountains, crossed by the Kadono River (the presentday Katsura), and its tributaries Uda and Kamo, which all flow from in a north-south direction from the hills with a vertical drop of forty meters. The configuration of the site corresponds to the Chinese criteria of an auspicious emplacement for the palace of the Emperor and actual sites were associated with figures of Chinese cosmography : the Kamo River in the east with the Blue Dragon, the big roads in the west with the White Tiger, the Ogura Pond in the south with the Red Bird and the Funaoka Hill in the north with the Black Warrior. The northeast direction is known by the mythical name of kimon, “the Devils gate”. This permanently ill-fated direction — according to the Sino-Japanese tradition — was protected by the Hieizan Mountains. The plain was altered : the construction of dams made it possible to drain the bed of the Kamo and to move its course eastwards, so that it did not cut through the urban area. The reference to Chinese town planning was also found in the toponymy. The eastern half of Heiankyô being named Rakuyô, the Japanese transliteration of Luoyang and its western half Chôan, the Japanese transliteration of Chang’an. Yôshû, a place name indicating the area of Chang’an under the Tang, was adopted to name the county of Yamashiro. These terms were still in use in the 17 th century, as attested by the Local Monograph of Yôshû (Yôshûfushi) of Kurokawa Dôyô (foreword of 1684).

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Fig. 5. Chang’an

In Heiankyô, the basic vantage point of the layout was at the top of Funaoka Hill. Excavations revealed the trace of forms of worship dating from before the foundation of the city. The space of the new capital was superimposed on a site of primitive worship, which was strongly singularized if one considers its importance in the composition of the geometrical figure. The axis of the main thoroughfare, Suzaku Avenue, passed this point, which is in the north of the city, at a distance equal to that of the north-south length of the enclosure of the imperial palace.

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The city formed a rectangle of 5.22 kilometers (1,753 jô) [5] from north to south and 4.49 kilometers (1,508 jô) from east to west, which means a little less than half of Chang’an. The proportions of the two capitals, however, were similar, with a ratio of 1.16 between the length and the width, a ratio that is also found in the proportions of the cob wall enclosure of the imperial palace : 1.3 kilometers (460 jô) from north to south and 1.14 kilometers (384 jô) from east to west. The palace was in the center of the north side of the city. The broad Red Bird Avenue, Suzaku-ôji, impressive with its width of 83.4 meters (28 jô) and its length of almost four kilometers, connected the southern gate of the palace with the city gate. Both sides of the avenue were lined with drainage ditches, walled wards and planted with weeping willows. It was used for ceremonies and processions. The monumental aspect of the spatial organization of the ceremonies was underlined by the great Rashômon Gate, a one-story building with a façade of eight pillars, and the same symmetry as the buildings built on both sides of the avenue : in the south and the temples in the east and west, Tôji and Saiji. At the level of the seventh avenue were the buildings of the Kôrokan hosting the foreign embassies. Each occupied a surface of two quarters and was placed along the axis of the eastern and the western marketplace. The government offices of the capital--the left section in the east, the right section in the west--were located near the imperial palace. The checkerboard plan inherited from China was based on a grid “system of division of streets and districts”, jôbôsei, which formed the basis of the urban form. The city was divided into two sections, the Right Capital, ukyô, and the Left Capital, sakyô ; that is, the right-hand and the left-hand sides of the Emperor when he faced south. In terms of urban typology, the basic unit of the agglomeration was the basic city block, chô, a square of about 119 meters (40 jô) , as in Heijôkyô and Nagaokakyô. Four city blocks formed a sub-district (hô), four sub-districts were equivalent to a district (bô). The wards and districts were cob walled. These elements respected the square plan typology in accordance with the theoretical model of the Zhouli, whereas the grid of Chang’an was based on a rectangular module. As in the other capitals, the construction of a city wall never formed part of the Japanese project. An aristocrat with a third-class civil servant title or higher could get a parcel that could be as large as a ward


5. The dimension of the jô in the past, has long been a controversial topic among the contemporary archeologists. For Heiankyô, the dimensions in jô are wellknown thanks to ancient texts. However, the controversy concerns the equivalent of the ancient measure in meters. My study “L’architecture et la ville du Japon ancien” (Fiévé, 1996) refers to a jô equivalent to 2,96 meters, but the most recent works converge on an equivalent of 2,98 meters, standard measure which we have adopted in this article.

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Fig. 6. Heiankyô

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(approximately 119 m2). Those with a fifth-class title or higher were allotted areas of half a ward, and sixth-class titles or lower, a quarter of a ward (Akiyama : 1975). On these vast parcels they built palaces with landscaped gardens and ponds. In the lower-class neighborhoods, the chô were divided by lanes into four north-south plots, named “rows”, gyô, and starting from the Red Bird Avenue they were numbered from one to four. Eight internal-access alleys called “gates”, mon, numbered from one to eight, divided the ward in the east-west direction into 32 plots, henushi, with a façade (maguchi) of 14.9 meters (5 jô) high and a length (okuyuki) of 29.8 meters (10 jô), except when these districts were crossed in their middle by a north-south lane (roji) 4.47 meters (1.5 jô) wide. These parcels included the living quarters, a vegetable garden and probably some sheds for the animals. On the outline of the capital, the parcel was located by a numbering system according to the district, the ward, the row (east or west) and the gate.

tern half of the capital. Nevertheless, this layout did not originate from the same topographic constraints, since an east-west axis similar to that of the Silk Road and the Wei River was not part of the natural configuration of the site of Heiankyô. The site there is a basin that is enclosed on three sides by mountains and open to the south, and in which the hydrographic network of the plain flows out to the sea. In Heiankyô, the natural form of the site favored a north-south axis instead, open to the plain of Yamato, in whichHeijôkyô and its monasteries were located, and near the inland waterway open to the inland sea at Naniwa. Nothing justified abandoning the ideal model by locating the palace in the north of the city, unless it was the planners’ probable lack of freedom in being faced with a pre-existent form. The plan of Heiankyô was conceived as a space of representation that glorified the figure of the Emperor (Fiévé 1996 : 63-133). Although the Emperor played the role of a spiritual center, by virtue of the urban plan he also became an inaccessible and invisible “vanishing point”, remote and hidden from the profane within the confines of his palace. The second material consequence of the transposition of the Chang’an model to a site naturally marked by a north-south axiality was the progressive establishment-along this axis--of a linear hierarchy of the urban space that would lead little by little to an urban structure of the “uptown” and “downtown” type (residential districts in north and lower-class and commercial districts in the south). This urban structure created in the 10 th century is still among the main morphological characteristics of contemporary Kyôto. As in the other ancient capitals, this hierarchy was marked from the beginning by the names of the large east-west avenues. The road skirting the northern side of the imperial palace was called “First Avenue”, then came the “Second Avenue” which bordered the southern side of the palace, then the “Third Avenue”, and so on until the “Ninth Avenue”, which marked the southern limit of the city. The fact that these names still exist in Kyôto underlines to a certain extent the persistence of a vertical hierarchy. Conversely, the names of the northsouth avenues did not follow the same logic, but rather indicated an east-west symmetry on both sides of the central axis of Red Bird Avenue.[6] The introduction of an uptown-downtown hierarchy was accentuated from the start by the laying out of the

Urban morphologies of Heiankyô and Chang’ an As in Chang’an, the general plan of the city was a rectangle and not a square. The palace was located on the northern side of the city, and so the centrality of the imperial palace was expressed in the east-west direction, but not in the north-south direction. Thus Heiankyô copied Heijôkyô and Nagaokakyô, each imitating the capital of the Tang in turn. This essential point changed the ideal model of placing the supreme ruler at the actual geometric center of his subjects. It placed him in a certain way in perspective, a fact that produced a profound urban change during the history of Heiankyô-Kyôto. However, in Chang’an the east-west axis of the Silk Road strongly marked the urban space and counterbalanced to a certain extent the perspective representation that could have resulted from the transfer of the palace to the north of the city. This main artery on the scale of the territory linked the two east and west markets and crossed the central avenue in front of the Red Bird Gate, located at the middle of the southern side of the palace. This configuration introduced a geometric center and marked the junction between the eastern and western halves of the city. As in Chang’an, the planners of Heiankyô imitated this layout, establishing two large markets of nine districts each, one in the western half and the other in the eas-

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6. Among the list of names characteristic of each north-south avenue, we find respectively kushige no kôji (Kushige street) and Nishi Kushige no Kôji (West Kushige street) ; Ômiya-ôji (Palace avenue) and Nishi Ômiya-ôji (avenue of the west of the Palace) ; Horikawa-ôji (Canal avenue) and Nishi Hoirikawa-ôji (Canal avenue of the west) ; finally, at the extreme east and west of the city, Higashi Kyôgoku-ôji (avenue of the Far East) and Nishi Kyôgoku-ôji (avenue of the Far West).

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Chang’an, model capital and model of capitals

imperial and Suzaku parks near the palace, in the northern part of the city. The markets, on the contrary, occupied a third of the southern part of the city and were located at more than two kilometers to the south of the palace and the great estates of the nobility. This layout differed from that of the markets of Chang’an which, in bordering the southern avenue of the administrative palace (huangcheng), were located in the middle of the urban area. In Chang’an, the centrality of the markets, according to two north-south axes, was essential, and it balanced to some extent the hierarchy of the urban space : in comparison to Heiankyô, the places of exchange and the lower-class districts remained relatively close to the imperial palace. Finally, contrary to the imperial gardens of Heiankyô, the big park located at the southeastern end of Chang’an was reserved for aristocrats. The Chinese city was dotted with more than 200 Buddhist and Taoist temples (Xiong, 2000 : 297-320), whereas in Heiankyô monasteries were forbidden inside the city. Only the Saiji and the Tôji were authorized at the extreme southern end of the city. These important aspects of the urban life of Chang’an and the great autonomy of its districts were factors of polarization that did not exist in Heiankyô.

nue to exist--their most ancient buildings are now included on the UNESCO World Heritage list--and the present-day city of Nara is the product of an urban clustering around the monasteries of the east ; the Tôdaiji, Kôfukuji and Gangôji being at the origin of the new districts.

Certainly, in Japan, the transfer of the imperial palace toward the north of the city had been completed since Heijôkyô. But the great monasteries of Heijôkyô, sometimes several kilometers away from the palace, were strong elements of urban polarization. Tôshôdaiji and Yakushiji in the west, Daianji in the east, Saidaiji in the northwest and especially the big group formed by the Tôdaiji, the Kôfukuji, the Gangôji and the Ki dera in the east of the capital, were real cities within the city, composed of hundreds of often monumental buildings. In this configuration, within the geographical area, the imperial palace was one center of power among others. The very particular nature of the urban fabric, dotted with vast non-urbanized areas and cultivated land, contributed to the phenomenon of urban polarization around these places of power. The palace of Heijôkyô, successively transferred to Kuni, Shigaraki, Naniwa, Hora, and then to Yuge, played quite a different role in the urban evolution than the palace of Heiankyô, which was maintained on the same site for four and a half centuries. The history of Heijôkyô confirms this : several large monasteries founded in the 8 th century conti-

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In spite of these facts, can we conclude that from its very conception there was a deliberate desire to mark the city with the linear hierarchy of an uptown and downtown polarity ? Or, if you prefer : was the urban planning of Heiankyô based on a clear political choice to create a distance between the Emperor and the profane world ? Nothing is less certain. The existence of aristocratic estates established in the south, like Hachijô.in on the Eighth Avenue or the famous Kawara-no-in palace, which occupied four districts at the level of the Sixth Avenue, would attest rather to the opposite. We would like to explain the outline of the north-south linearity more as an unprogrammed double effect of the power of its original model, Chang’an, and of its transposition to a different context. From the 7 th to the 8 th centuries there was a succession of capitals in Japan that were conceived according to Chinese models and founded on hitherto non-urbanized sites. Each time they inaugurated a space and a temporality with new a potential and new energy. Even if the more transitory palaces were the exception, the hundred years that separated the foundation of Fujiwarakyô from that of Heiankyô were marked by five capitals. Thus in Japan the establishment of the capital on a permanent site was a slow process and, for a long time, the desire to attach its name to a new capital remained stronger for the sovereigns than the feeling of belonging to a lineage fixed in an immutable place. On the other hand, throughout Chinese history, only the four sites of Luoyang, Xi’an,Nanjing and Beijing accommodated the successive rebuilding of the many imperial cities. Where only one dynastic lineage ruled in Japan, in China a succession of dynasties–not all Chinese–took the old practices up again, and as such tried to benefit from the merits of its predecessors. Granet’s emphatic assertion that “the Chinese lived on their death” could be understood in this way. Like Chang’an, Dadu (today’s Beijing), the capital of Kublai Khan (1215-1294) of the Yuan, conceived according to the ideal Chinese model and built on the site of the Zhongdu of the Jin, is a remarkable example of this urban phenomenon, which is so different from the Japanese example.

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Harald Høyem


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In order to understand the flavour of the present situation, it is necessary to delve–however briefly–into the history of how the identity of the Hui people developed. As we shall see, this history has been characterised to varying degrees both by tensions between the Han majority and the different minorities, as well as by internal differences within the Hui minority. First of all, it is important to keep in mind that, as is the case with most ethnic groups, the Han ethnicity is also the product of a long-term process.[1] The result of this process is an identity that rests above all on the fact that the Hans constitute a clear majority among the different nationalities of China, the consequence of which is that they carry the main responsibility for ruling and for keeping the Chinese state together. However, affected by impulses from abroad and from the ethnic minorities of inland China, the Han Chinese also need to struggle in order to maintain their cultural continuity and to re-articulate their identity over time. Unity vis-à-vis of the majority has been crucial for all minorities, even in times of internal schisms, as the rulers have exploited any differences between and within ethnic groups to exercise control over the different groups in various political situations. After a long period during which Muslims were refused permission to settle on Chinese territory (with very few exceptions),[2] the Yuan dynasty saw the emergence of the Hui nation, as we know it today, as the Mongol emperors placed them in the entrusted, but dubious roles of invasion army soldiers, settlers of Chinese territory, tax collectors, etc.[3]  During the Ming and Qing dynasties, the Hui were on the one hand thoroughly integrated (often by force) into the Han state, while on the other hand they were very active in rebellions against the late Qing emperors. They paid a very heavy price for the latter, by being subjected to massacres on several occasions. In the 20 th century, the Hui were one of five ethnic groups acknowledged by Sun Yat Sen ; [4] they were totally neglected by the later Kuomintang government, given a good deal of attention by the young communist regime, but persecuted during the Cultural Revolution. The Hui were finally given certain privileges after the mid-1970 s. Staying united through those shifting positions has been essential for the Hui. On the other hand, internal conflicts have threatened this unity. Three sects have emerged within the Hui population from their common Sunni Muslim origins. Over centuries, the original religion, the so-called

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1. To illustrate the process : “Like the peoples of Europe, those of China are the product of constant intermingling of races caused by wars, invasions, colonisation, transfer of population, and contacts with neighbours. Turkish, Mongol, Tungus, Korean, TibetoBurman, Thai Miao, and Mon-Khmer strains have all contributed to the formation of the Han peoples.” Gernet, 1990 : 7-8. 2. During the Tang Dynasty, they were allowed to settle only in Guangzhou and Yangzhou ; and during the Song dynasty only in Guangzhou, Hangzhou and Quanzhou. Dillon, 1999 :25. 3. “By serving as intermediaries between the Mongol rulers and their Chinese subjects, the Muslims performed valuable services but simultaneously provoked the wrath of the conquerors and the conquered… the Mongols, consciously or not, used the Muslims as scapegoats, thereby diverting Chinese animosity from themselves. Like European and Middle Eastern Jews of modern times, a large number of Muslims were involved in trade and finance. By employing the Muslims as tax collectors and moneylenders, the Mongols ensured that the Chinese and the Muslims would frequently be at odds.” Rossabi, quoted in Dillon,1999 : 26. 4. Sun Yat Sen divided the Chinese people into five ethnic groups : Han, Hui, Tibetan Manchu and Mongol. Dillon, 1999 : 81. 5. For the impact of globalisation on Chinese identity, see e.g. Zheng., 1999 ; and Gillett, 2000. 6. Rapoport, 1969.

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Physical environment and cultural identity

“Old teaching”, or Gedimu, developed parallel to the Hui’s increasing integration among the Han Chinese. It was attacked from two sides : by a sect rooted in Sufism, the Xinjiao sect (which translates as “The New Teaching”), and by a sect that took its inspiration from expanded international contact and communication, the Yihewani sect (which translates as “The New New Teaching”). The newer the sect, the more orthodox it was. This tripartite division still prevails among Xi’an’s Hui population. Without going into further detail on this matter, we may just note that the Hui identity is conceived as a united culture that partly opposes the majority Han culture, while being partly integrated into it. At the same time, the three sects within the Hui population want to express their separate identities. Balancing unity against religious schism is still crucial for the Hui’s survival as an ethnic group.

their form according to what is possible for pragmatic reasons, according to the needs and activities they are meant to cater to, according to the dreams and visions of those involved in creating them, and so on. When old structures are confronted with a new social context in a new period of time, perhaps even under a new paradigm, the dynamics are different. People may passively accept the existing structure without making any changes in it, even if it is not adequate to the new situation ; or they may find that the existing structure is still relevant in a new (modern) situation–unchanged, or perhaps with slight modifications. A third alternative is that they may consider the old structures outdated and find it necessary to replace the old ones with other, brand new physical structures. In the following, all of these three alternative manenvironment relationship modes may be at work. Our interpretation takes it for granted that the built environment can be read as an answer to the cultural situation and its transformations, whether it be accepted with a shrug, passively modified, or actively changed, and whether the adaptation to new situations be conscious or unconscious, intentional or not, passive or active. However, rather than analysing or deciphering the actual role of the inhabitants during the transformation processes, our primary interest here is to investigate the possibility of finding correlations between urban form and cultural identity as they are understood today. In short, the built environment is conceived here as an expression of the search for identity and of the conflicts embedded therein.

The search for identity, which has been going on through the course of history, has not come to an end. On the contrary ; both the Hui and the Han are struggling to find their identity as ethnic groups, to gain a foothold at a time of great change in terms of their internal identities, their relationship to each other, and their relationship to the world outside China.[5] Is it possible, then, to interpret the current fabric of the Drum Tower Muslim District in Xi’an as an expression of past and present identity changes among the ethnic groups involved, and the Hui in particular ? Before trying to interpret the structure of the Drum Tower District, a note of caution should be sounded. Many factors other than the cultural situation are of course at work when architecture is constructed and transformed, such as topography, climate, soil, building materials, and technology, as pointed out for example by Amos Rapoport.[6] However, we do not intend to address the question of which factors are superior or subordinate to the rest, or of which factors are major ones as opposed to being merely a consequence of the others. Let us just observe that there is a close interrelationship between all those factors, but our concern here is the search for identity, which we believe will describe crucial aspects of the man-environment relationship in Xi’an in general, with a particular focus on the Drum Tower Muslim District. Another, perhaps more interesting, point of caution than the one above is one which takes into account the existence of different modes in the man-environment relationship. When new structures are built, they take

Interpretation of the physical structure City level. An ethnic enclave ? Most of the Hui are concentrated in three areas of Xi’an city : many live in the northeastern part of the city centre, whereas their most numerous concentration is found in the Drum Tower District, which houses 35,000 Hui inhabitants. Why this concentration ? Why do the residents of these areas insist on staying together ? [7] Suggested attempts from the municipal government at trying to

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Harald Høyem


move parts of the population to other locations in Xi’an have been met with resistance. Why is this ? Without entering into the field of politics (which might also constitute a fertile approach) and yet remaining true to the perspective of this article, we may read the reluctance to weaken this ethnic enclave in the following way : the Hui are dispersed across most of the Chinese territory. The lack of a specific and autonomous Hui territory at the national level contributes to a weakened conception of ethnic identity. Forming local clusters functioning as Hui territories wherever they live seems a natural form of compensation for this state of affairs. And the existence of such local clusters can certainly be observed in Xi’an. District structure. United or fragmented ? The three sects within the Muslim society of Xi’an have found their way to coexisting in the Drum Tower District,[8] separated into so-called Jiao Fangs, a kind of parish unit. The boundaries between the Jiao Fangs are not visible, but each community has its own mosque in its middle. The mosque provides a gravity point, thus creating a spatial typology–much in the same way that a bonfire creates space in the dark night–characterised by the clear centre (the monument) and a less well-defined surrounding area. As we will see later, the appearance of the mosques differs, a fact that may serve to symbolise the contradicting faiths and practices of the different sects. From an outsider’s viewpoint, the whole Muslim district may at first glance appear to constitute a single unit. For its residents, however, the district is distinctly subdivided into 10 sect districts, an order that underlines the internal differences and contradictions within the Hui community of Xi’an. This combination of unity and subdivisions fits well into the Hui’s sense of their own identity : They are all Hui Muslims, but at the same time they are separated into sects. The unity is clear both to themselves and to people outside their community, whereas the mosques of the Jiao Fangs constitute respective and representative symbols of their subdivision, which is not legible to outsiders.

Fig. 1. Xi’an map : Location of the Hui settlements today. (Source : Jing Bin).

Fig. 2. Map showing the distribution of mosques and their respective Jiao Fang. (Source : Jing Bin)

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Fig. 3 Traditional Chinese courtyard area – with its geometrical order, closely linked to the social order, the Confucian filial piety. The figure shows the basic element, the classical courtyard as a prototype, and a housing quarter from old Beijing, where the elements are developed in a strict, urban structure.[11] Fig. 4 The urban pattern of Fes al-Bali, Morocco. Typical context for Islamic courtyards with the urban tissue modelled by organic growth.[12]

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Physical environment and cultural identity

The use of urban space. New phenomena ? The urban tissue is organised in a way that enables a very lively atmosphere in the streets. After the liberalisation of the economy in the late 1980 s, the volume of commercial activity has blossomed. Like buds opening in spring, businesses sprung up along the streets, with an emphasis on tourist souvenirs close to the Great Mosque, and on food shops and restaurants elsewhere. Housing and commercial activities are thus tightly integrated in a mixed-use structure, with commercial enterprises lining the streets, commodity production in many courtyards, and housing around the courtyards. Activities intended for tourists may be interpreted as an evolution of the interregional and international communication that has characterised the Hui as a people and Xi’an as a city through the ages. Food production and food consumption in accordance with Islamic custom, as well as commercial activities tightly integrated into the day-to-day life of the residents constitute structural elements deeply embedded in Hui culture ; along with religious activities and symbols, they may comprise the most active creators of a Hui identity in the man-environment relation. Block structure. Traditional or modern ? Ever since the Zhou dynasty (10 th century BC), the courtyard structure has been the dominant urban pattern throughout China.[9] Thus, the classical courtyard was dominant in Xi’an as well. Increased density and changes of ownership conditions led to extensive modifications of the original courtyard structures in the 20 th century–a phenomenon that also affected the Drum Tower District. Nonetheless, there is a strong desire to maintain the courtyard pattern in some form or other in the district. The original courtyard pattern seems to constitute what amounts to a Chinese archetype, a national architectural tradition that expresses cosmic order and symbolises the family home. In Muslim culture too, courtyard houses prevail,[10] in different contexts of time and location, of course, and with an internal organisation of space that differs from the Chinese “standard” pattern outlined above. Without going into detail about these differences, it is clear that an organic, rather irregular urban pattern is normal in the Islamic world, as compared with the grid-like regularity of the Chinese urban courtyard. The irregularity of the Muslim urban pattern necessitates flexible adaptations, which results in a rich variation of courtyard shapes.

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Harald Høyem

Today’s vernacular offers new or modified courtyard patterns, most of which differ substantially from the traditional courtyards.[13] They are developed within the grid pattern of Xi’an, and display great diversity in terms of tailoring the organisation of space to the character of the site and contemporary needs. Our main impression is that the endurance of courtyards in one shape or other, old-fashioned and “dysfunctional” as they may be (compared with the walk-up and high-rise blocks of flats constructed in the rest of Xi’an in recent decades), has to be interpreted in terms of their value as strong symbols of identity, the courtyard structure being a unifying element of the Han-Hui symbiosis through the ages, and thus of Hui identity as developed in the course of history.

One particular street in the Drum Tower Muslim District, Bei Yuan Men Street, differs completely from all the others. It is situated close to the district’s eastern boundary, starting at the Drum Tower and ending at the municipal administration buildings of Xi’an. Between 1993 and 1995 the street was totally restructured as a so-called “Traditional style” street. Its transformation was initiated and sanctioned by the municipal government and carried out over a short period of time. Giving a distinct impression that it is controlled and regulated according to what is considered proper for a street in a Protection Area,[15] Bei Yuan Men Street reveals a good deal about the dominant conception of cultural identity among decision-makers in the municipal government. Prior to its restructuring, there was a discussion in which the Hui spokesmen advocated the adoption of a “New Muslim style” for this street. The government’s “Traditional style” was implemented, however, emphasising the display of a national identity (i.e. Han nationality) for the benefit of the many foreigners who visit the district.[16] The impact of governmental power on the urban fabric is clearly visible in this example. The other streets in the district have a totally different appearance, which is marked by new construction methods, mixed building styles, a vague control of the construction work, and many buildings violating the regulations ; in short, what Dong Wei calls “a new vernacular architecture”.[17] Some houses show signs of “Islamicising”, but the vast majority of new houses in the Drum Tower District are similar to the Han Chinese houses elsewhere in Xi’an city–and the rest of China, for that matter–with their flat roofs, ceramic-tile façades, and metal-framed windows. This non-traditional, new vernacular architecture may be interpreted as an expression of a struggle for autonomy–and consequently a strengthened feeling of identity among the residents. However, this way of constructing new houses is not restricted to the Drum Tower District. Many factors contribute to the increasing popularity of this building type in China today, such as construction methods, a shortage of wood as a building material, new building codes, new social structures and property patterns, to mention but a few.[18]  Nevertheless, a desire among the Hui to demonstrate autonomy and enforce a separate identity may account, at least to some extent, for the resistance to rebuilding in the so-called “Traditional style”.

Building typology. Control or anarchy ? In terms of building typology, the mosques and the residential buildings constitute different cases and will be dealt with separately. Two distinct styles are to be found in the mosque architecture of Xi’an : one which shows close resemblance to the traditional style of Chinese temples, and which tends to be the chosen style of the Gedimu (Old Teaching) sect ; and another one which is characterised by onion domes and by ceramic tiles on the façade, named the New Islamic Style, which tends to signal that the mosque in question belongs to the Xinjiao (New Teaching) and the Yihewani (New New Teaching) sects. These New Islamic mosques are obviously inspired by visits to other countries, and by pilgrimages to Mecca–as are their faith and religious practices. The New Islamic Style monument, too, is located in the middle of the parish, the Jiao Fang, mirroring the common pattern in the Muslim district as a whole ; but its architectural form serves as a signal of the particular identity of the parishioners. It should be noted here, however, that this pattern is not a consistent one : six mosques are in the “traditional” style, two conform to the “Arabic” style, whereas the remaining two display a hybrid style.[14]  However, the pattern described above applies for the most part to the tendencies observed since restoration and reconstruction of the mosques started in the mid-1980 s (many of them had been severely damaged during the Cultural Revolution).

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7. Interviews by our university team in the period 1997-2000 confirmed this attitude. 8. Despite the fact that the population is 45 % Hui and 55 % Han Chinese, the whole District is named the “Muslim district”, underlining the fact that even though the Drum Tower district holds more Han than Hui Chinese, the Hui remain the hegemonic group. (Source : Xi’an Urban Planning Bureau, 1997). 9. Liu,1989 : 161. 10. Mitchell, 1978. 11. China Architecture & Building press, 1996 12. Bianca, 1975 : 123. 13. Documented by Dong Wei, 1995 ; and in Høyem et al., 2002. 14. Gillette, 2000 : 73. 15. The Drum Tower District was designated a “Protection Area” in the Master Plan of 1995-2020. 16. Personal conversations with lecturer Ren Wen Hui and Vice Mayor Zhang Fuchun. 17. Dong Wei, 1995. 18. See e.g. Bråten and Høyem, 1991.

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Physical environment and cultural identity

Dwelling structure. Expression of a specific Muslim daily life ? The organisation of space in the dwelling units occupied by the Hui differs very little from that of the Han dwellings in the area. The lack of differences indicates the deep integration of the Hui population among the Han Chinese–an integration that came about gradually, through day-to-day adaptations made by the Hui, and that distinguishes the Hui Chinese identity from that of the other Muslim nationalities in China. One difference between the Han and Hui ethnic groups should, however, be mentioned : where in the Han dwellings there is an altar to the ancestors (to the extent that it still exists), the Hui may place religious symbols or pictures of religious symbolic character.[19] Ornaments. Text as the modern and authentic cultural expression ? Both Chinese and Muslim cultures pay a great deal of attention to script and texts. It is on this level, the level of ornamentation, that the most distinct differences of cultural expression in the buildings are to be found. The characters of the Chinese and Arabic languages are frequently used, sometimes to such an extent that they completely hide the architecture behind the ornamentation. The utilisation of script characters as ornaments is probably a deep expression of the identity of the population, even though, literally speaking, their application is superficial, since the script characters are applied to the surface, the façades, i.e. the faces of the buildings. To conceive the Arabic characters as a symbolic ornament is supported by the fact that very few Huis in Xi’an can speak Arabic.

Fig. 5. Interior of a modernized courtyard of today. ��������� (Photo : H. Høyem, 1998).

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Concluding remarks The tension embedded in a mixed identity expressed as “Chinese Muslim or Muslim in China” [20] has its local equivalent in the tension between defining one’s identity as “Xi’an Hui or Hui in Xi’an”. Our analysis has examined aspects of how a particular ethnic minority keeps striving to define its identity–an effort that is mirrored in Italian districts in Canada, in Chinatowns in the USA, in Turkish districts in Central Europe, in short, in multicultural cities

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Harald Høyem


Fig. 6. Traditional style mosque. The garden of The Great Mosque of Xi’an (Photo : ��������� H. Høyem, 1995). Fig. 7. Arabic style – or New Islamic style mosque. (Photo : ��������� H. Høyem, 1995). Fig. 8. Bei Yuan Men Street. (Photo : H. Høyem, 1998). Fig. 9. New vernacular. (Photo : H. Høyem, 1998).

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Physical environment and cultural identity

of the majority, other interests are at stake, interests that may also be conceived of as involving identity. On the one hand, there is the desire to control deviations that are considered a threat to the order of the majority and its mainstream identity ; on the other hand, a recognition of the necessity to accept, absorb, and even integrate new impulses, new expressions, and new lifestyles–factors that will have the impact of modifying the majority’s own identity over time. In the continuous search for and development of identity involving minority and majority groups, contradictory strategies are applied. At one extreme end of the possible approaches we find the isolated ghetto ; at the other extreme, the total elimination of all cultures deviating from the mainstream culture. All cultural juxtapositions are characterised by the parties’ attempts at finding their position between these extremes. The Drum Tower Muslim District is changing. Only time will tell what the impact of these changes will be and how the different cultural tensions embedded in this particular urban district of the Chinese city of Xi’an will be balanced against each other.


19. Dong Wei, 1995 : 48. 20. As pointed out by Donald Daniel Leslie. Fig. 10. Arabic and Chinese characters on a mosque entrance. (Photo : H. Høyem, 1998).

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all over the world. Our analysis has aimed at demonstrating the impact of this tension between identities on the management and transformation of urban forms and architectural expressions in Xi’an. When minorities and majorities meet, some sort of balance will always have to be found between opposing impulses. For the minority it will be a matter of adaptation (“When in Rome, do as the Romans do”), set against the marking off of cultural and geographical territory where the minority can aim for hegemony. From the perspective

Bianca, Stefano, Architectur und Lebensform im Islamischen Stadtwesen, Zurich, Verlag für Architectur Artemis, 1975. Bråten, K.H., and Høyem, H.,The Resource System Method, Trondheim, NTH, 1991. China Architecture & Building Press, Beijing Courtyard, Beijing, 1996. Dillon, Michael, China’s Muslim Hui Community : Migration, Settlement and Sects. Richmond, Curzon Press, 2000. Dong Wei, An Ethnic Housing in Transition. Chinese Muslim Housing Architecture in the Framework of Resource Management and Identity of Place Trondheim, Diss. NTH, 1995. Gernet, Jacques, A History of Chinese Civilisation, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1990. Gillette, Maris Boyd, Between Mecca and Beijing. Modernization and Consumption Among Urban Chinese Muslims, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 2000. Høyem et al., The Final Report –The Drum Tower Muslim District, Trondheim : NTNU, 2000. Jun Jing (ed.)., Feeding China’s little Emperors. Food, Children and Social Change, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 2000. Kyoto Art Academy, Sino-Japanese Joint Research on the Formation of Townscape in Xi’an. Kyoto, Kyoto Art Academy, 1991. Liu, Laurence G., Chinese Architecture, London, Academy Editions, 1989. Ma Yin (ed.), China’s Minority Nationalities, Beijing, Foreign Language Press, 1989. Mitchell, George (ed.), Architecture of the Islamic World : Its History and Social Meaning. London, Thames and Hudson, 1978. Preston, P.W., Political/Cultural Identity. Citizens and Nations in a Global Era, London, Sage, 1997. Rapoport, Amos, House Form and Culture, Englewood Cliffs, N.J., Prentice Hall, 1969. Zheng, Yongnian, Discovering Chinese Nationalism in China. Modernization, Identity and International Relations, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1999.

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Pierre Clément

Pierre Clément

Xi’an and Chinese cities in project Reading the city today, or the geometry of plan


China has built more cities than any other nation in the world. This is due to the fact that Chinese civilisation is several thousand years old, and also to the size of its population. This phenomenon is further amplified by the enduring tradition of building new cities as seats of power in new territories, and of shifting capitals to the interior of the landmass or to neighbouring sites, as was the case for Xi’an, Luoyang and Beijing, etc. Patterns of displacement of capitals on their site In relation to the history of urban projects, therefore, China deserves more consideration than the history of town planning has given to it so far ; clearly, we should attempt to understand the theories and practises that have evolved in the course of these manifold experiences. This capacity for renewing, destroying or abandoning cities and quarters should force us to confront our own points of view on heritage, on the ability to impose tabula rasa as the rule. The pattern still prevails today : new towns are built ex nihilo to accommodate new administrative or political centres, business districts, industrial zones, or university and scientific centres, occasioning demolition without respect for the traces of the past. This approach differs from the one that is prevalent in the West today, which advocates attentiveness to territory, specific landscapes, urban fabrics and traces of former occupation, and this extends to the respect of old buildings, their authenticity and even their materials.

Urban patterns in the capitals of the North Xi’an has played a role of prime importance in the history of Chinese town planning, serving as an urban model for the capitals of the North even before Beijing, and supplying a reference pattern by its dimensions, which have never been equalled. Stela of Suzhou In our study of the history of Chinese urbanism, we have already considered the role played by the stela of Pingjiang, which is perfectly preserved and represents--carved in a stone two metres high–the plan of the city of Suzhou in

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1229 under the Song dynasty, after it had been razed to the ground and rebuilt.[1]  This was “south of the river”, the Yangzijiang, which divides China into northern and southern halves. Suzhou, in the south, was typified by its pattern of canals. The author Heng Chye Kiang has compared this stela to the one already raised under the Song dynasty,

cements of the city on this same site. We know that the fall of a dynasty often led to the abandonment and destruction of the preceding capital, and a shift to another site, which sometimes meant re-occupying a site that had already been used. But in this case, what remained of the old structures ? What elements were re-used ? We know that in the case of Beijing, the Ming dynasty emperor Yongle, returning to the site of Dadu, the great capital of the Mongols, some 50 years after the fall of the Yuan dynasty, resumed the pre-existing hydraulic structure of waterways and lakes, part of the traces of the city’s boundary walls east and west, the old grid pattern as defined by the major arteries and completed by the design of the hutong — the lanes running east-west — and the land-division of part of the old city. But Xi’an shifted on its original site and built different boundary walls. Reading the plan of the city today shows us this displacement and the colossal scale of the old structures.

City project Fig. 1. The Basic geography of China, China Reconstructs, 1956.

149 years earlier, in 1080, which represents the plan of Chang’an, the Tang dynasty capital destroyed in 904.[2] What these artefacts represent are two cities razed to the ground but immortalized in stone : Suzhou has been rebuilt and the stela, intact in spite of several geometric deformations, served as a pattern for the plan of the new city as we see it today, while the fragments of the Chang’an stela provide pieces of a puzzle for archaeologists determined to reconstitute the vanished capital. Beyond this similarity of representation, Suzhou embodied the model of the hydraulic city in the “Land of Waters”, near Lake Taihu, in the lower valley of the Yangzijiang, while Xi’an, the imperial capital of the north, in the plains of the Yellow River valley, was to serve as a model that would be used again and again in China, and even in other lands. What Xi’an shows us is both permanence in the use of a site over a very long period of time and the displa-

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Familiarity with Chinese cities acquired over several decades should not lead us to ignore the impressions that any neophyte observer of the plan of Xi’an today is bound to have. The Chinese city is never the fruit of chance : it reflects an urban project, one that is architectural, formal, symbolic and political, the tribulations of which form the theme of this article. The design of Xi’an, inherited from history as it was when the first city planners began to study it at the beginning of the period that concerns us here, the early 1950 s, was derived from the imperial urban tradition of Northern China : a fortified city with a grid pattern and quadrangular form, cut by perpendicular axes rigorously aligned on the cardinal points, north-south, east-west, leading to the main gates, and extending beyond them to inscribe the city within the larger context of the surrounding territory. It still had the wall doubled by a moat of the late 14 thcentury Ming dynasty city, bequeathed by the Qing, but occupied only a small portion (1/10 th) of the territory of the capital as it was under the Tang, which was destroyed in 904. All of this survived until the 20 th century ; and, in

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1953, when the first master plan was drawn up with the help of Soviet experts for the first five-year plan, it was on this model that the metropolis of today was based. These cities were built as seats of power, on the different levels of the imperial hierarchy–imperial capital or princely capital–and encompassed vast tracts of land suitable for agriculture or future development within their boundary walls. They could have one, two or three walls surrounding the palace ; the interior city, the imperial city and the exterior city being much larger. Until contemporary times, very few of these old cities had filled up the intra muros perimeter thus defined. In the early 20 th century, exploring Nanjing on horseback, Victor Segalen was amazed to find himself crossing and re-crossing rampart walls without going out of the city or even encountering densely urbanized territory.[3] Beijing, Nanjing and Suzhou are all cities that conserved their ramparts in 1949, and Xi’an was in the same situation when the Communist regime came to power. A book published in Hong Kong in 1979 documented these “walled cities” [4] using measurements made by the Japanese army in 1933 and showed the regularity of the traces and the fact that their ramparts embraced much more than the built-up area alone. On the 1933 plan we can clearly see that the part that is densely developed is concentrated in the south and west, inside the ramparts, and beyond them, near the east gate. The design of the Chinese city as the seat of power thus appears in the history of Northern China as the taking possession of, humanizing and control of a vast territory by delimiting and enclosing it, and by the strict and regular application of a quadrangular grid with a wide-mesh pattern. In our day and age, the design of urban development master plans by laying out major axes and vast “quadrangular rings” around a core reflects the continuity and permanence of this same manner of laying out territory. But today we have to make provisions for automobile flow routes much wider than those formerly designed for the axle-width of a wagon. There is nothing surprising then in the fact that this faithfulness to an image and a pattern makes each Chinese urban development master plan seem more like the application of a repetitive model — that of roads, of territorial division, or of the functional zoning of lots — than a strategic arrangement based on local characteristics and topography.

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The role of Xi’an today What is the specific role of the city of Xi’an within the evolutionary process that large Chinese cities are currently undergoing ? Everyone has heard of the swift transformations taking place in Chinese cities. But in the case of Xi’an, and in the light of observations concerning other metropolises in the People’s Republic, it might be useful to consider this city as a specific example representative of the whole. To begin with, bear in mind that our point of view is that of the architect and town planner, and that we are limiting ourselves here to reading the plan of the city, leaving to others the task of making comparisons on the economic or geopolitical levels. Our vision is spatial and urban-oriented and, in focusing it on Xi’an, our concern is to question the shape of the city and its transformations. The role of the Chinese Government and of the Communist Party, as we see it in the policy defined at the top and implemented over the entire national territory, has resulted in similarities in urban design policy at the local echelon. Based as it is on national models, this policy has a long tradition. It derives from the urban model defined under the Zhou dynasty ,[5] several centuries before the Christian era, for capital cities on different scales of territory, and on an architectural ideal : that of a “house with four wings around a courtyard”. It is the same model that was developed for over two thousand years throughout the territory of the Han.[6]  As of the beginning of the 12 th century AD, it codified and standardized the architectural types for public buildings, using the techniques of timber construction. In the mid-20 th century it was updated in new codes and standards adapted to modern industrial production, when reinforced concrete construction techniques were introduced for collective housing. In contemporary times, the consequences of these national policies have made themselves felt in Xi’an at different periods : after the inception of the policy of industrializing cities that came with the first five-year plan in 1953 ; after the definition of the policy of urban heritage and the publication of the first list of “Cities of history and culture” in 1982 ; and more recently, since the year 2000, with the launching of the new policies for the development of inland cities capable of absorbing new populations of rural migrants. All of these policies have had a direct impact on the plan of the city.[7]


1. See research report, P. Clément, E. Pechenard, Qi Wan, Suzhou, formes et tissus urbains, IFA-BRA, 1985. 2. Cities of Aristocrats and Bureaucrats. The development of Medieval Chinese Cityscapes, p.XI. 3. Lettres à sa femme, Paris, Plon, 1967 p.48. 4. Chinese Walled Cities, 1979. 5. Clément Pierre, Péchenart Emmanuelle, Les capitales chinoises, leur modèle et leur site. IFA, BRA, Paris, 1983 et “Les capitales chinoises et leur site”, in De la voûte céleste au terroir, du jardin au foyer. Editions de l’Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, 1987, pp. 119-141. 6. Liu Dunzhen, La maison chinoise, Paris, 1980, Berger Levrault. 7. On this subject see the article by Bruno Fayolle Lussac on successive master plans.

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8. Léon Hoa, Reconstruire la Chine, p.57, see the article by Bruno Fayolle Lussac on the master plans of Xi’an in this book. 9. As Zhu Shiguang and Xiao Ailing have pointed out in their article in this book. 10. A Brief History of Ancient Chinese City Planning, p.12 sq. 11. Cities in China, p.137. 12. op. cit. p.37. 13. Xi’an city Frame Evolution from the Yuan to the Late of the Qing Dynasty in this volume.

Xi’an and chinese cities in project

Because Xi’an figured on the first list of 18 cities to be industrialized, in the first five-year plan drawn up in 1953 [8] with the help of Soviet experts, it had the privilege of being one of the test beds for applying early urban development master plans, studies for which had begun in 1949. Later, in 1982, its inscription on the first national list as one of the 24 “Cities of history and culture” called for the elaboration of a plan for safeguard and rehabilitation. Today, Xi’an is at the heart of China’s ongoing major urban issues : on the one hand the logic of national heritage, on the other that of the development of inland cities, with a view to the future development of the West.

Plan of the Tang capital For many years it was in competition for precedence with Luoyang, and was the great capital of both the Sui (581-618 AD) and the Tang (618-907 AD) dynasties, at which time its dimensions were impressive : 9.721 kilometres from east to west, and 8.651 km from north to south, covering some 84 km² over the site of the present-day city. For three centuries more it was the largest city in the world, and Wu Liangyong estimated its population then at a million inhabitants.[12] It lost its status as a capital in 904, when the great city of the Tang was razed to the ground. In passing we should remember that the principle of Chinese cities is that of successive layers of boundary walls, and that the Tang capital was in fact made up of three cities defined by their three walls, the outermost surrounding the exterior city, the second the interior “Imperial City”, and the innermost, the gong cheng, that of the Palace. But before the close of the 10 th century, a new prefecture arose on its ruins , the base of the modern day city. According to Wu Hongqi and Shi Hongshai ; [13] this new city was built over the former “imperial city”, the interior city of the Tang, in front of the Palace, in the north of the great capital. The interior city covered only 1/16 th of the entire territory of the old capital. It was this “new city” that served as a prefecture for the administration of the Yuan dynasty. Under the Ming, it was home to the second son of Emperor Hong Wu, a princely heir who made it the capital of his principality in 1368. Xi’an is then supposed to have played the role of an alternative capital, in the event that the shifting of the capital from Nanjing to Beijing proved unsuccessful. The prince developed the city to the east and to the north, to make it an almost perfect rectangle of 4.26 km from east to west, the east wall measuring 2.886 km, the west wall 2.708 km. Present-day Xi’an stands within the limits of the Ming city, which survived into the 20 th century, with the addition of “external sister cities” built at the four gates indicating the cardinal points at the ends of the main east-west and north-south axes. In the 19 th century it was the great regional metropolis of Northwest China, being composed of the provinces of Shaanxi (of which it was the provincial capital), Shanxi, Gansu, and of the autonomous Hui region of Ningxia, a region with a total area of 868,900 km2. At the time it was the second largest city of the North after Beijing. In 1982, when this northwest region, with an area one and

Xi’an : a model recomposed in the long term Rich with 3,000 years of history, having begun as a capital under the dynasty of the Western Zhou in the middle of the 11 th century BC, the city of Xi’an, under various names (or more precisely the plain of Guanzhong on the Wei River, a tributary of the Yellow River that winds through mountains to spread in the plain running from the east to the west of the territory), was a capital intermittently for a total of 1133 years, between 1059 BC and 904 AD.[9]  As such, Xi’an embodies the model of the imperial capital of Northern China, both historically and in terms of urban design. Under the name of Xianyang, it was a capital at the time of the reunification of the Empire under the Qin dynasty (350-207 BC), and stood at that time to the north of the Wei River, which it stepped over subsequently as it developed toward the south. But as Professor Wu Liangyong [10] has pointed out, it had the misfortune of being destroyed during the period of unrest that plagued the Qin dynasty in its declining years. It was again a capital — that of the Western Han — under the name of Chang’an, from 202 BC to 26 AD, when it was rebuilt south of the river but to the northwest of the city of today. As Alfred Shinz has remarked, this period coincided with the apogee of the Roman Empire in the West, at which time the capital of the Western Han was the biggest city in the world.[11]

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Pierre Clément


Fig. 2. Evolution of urbanised area, Xi’an.

a half times that of France (868,900 km2), totalled some 78 million inhabitants, the city of Xi’an had 1,5 million inhabitants, for an overall population of 3 million. Xi’an at the time of its apogee under the Tang, when it benefitted from the commerce of the Silk Road, was no doubt China’s first cosmopolitan city. It was protected from the foreign influences and urban models of the concessions that developed mainly along the eastern seaboard ports after the middle of the 19 th century. In the unsettled first half of the 20 th century it underwent several changes, but no major upheavals, considering the efforts at modernization that came with the Republic after 1911 and under the nationalist regime in the 1920 s, at which time it briefly served as a “vice-capital”, when the seat of power was at Nanjing. Certainly it was less affected than Canton, Nanjing or Shanghai, whose development was cut short by the Japanese occupation and the Second World War.

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The city and its territory The Chinese city is more than just an urbanized conglomeration : the municipality encompasses a larger territory composed of urban districts and of peripheral or rural districts. The Chinese system of territorial organization rests on a centralized State administration that obeys a strict hierarchy and is made up of civil servants appointed at different levels. It is not, in the Western sense, an arrangement based on the democratic representation of elected authorities at the communal, departmental and regional levels. Because of this, it is easier to implement administrative measures in large cities and to adapt them to changes. Compared with the French system, the scale of the autonomous municipalities of both Beijing and Shanghai, which rank as provinces, corresponds to that

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14. In Le Courrier de l’UNESCO (July-August 1999, pp. 26-27) quoted by Bruno Fayolle Lussac, ‘Le patrimoine comme enjeu de développement urbain : le cas de Xi’an (Chine)’ In : Regards croisés sur le patrimoine, edited by Maria Gravari-Barbas and Sylvie Guichard-Anguis, Presses de l’Université de Paris-Sorbonne, in collaboration with UNESCO, Paris, 2003, pp. 643-660. 15. Figures given by Serge Michel, L’hebdo, 16 December 2004, from the website

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of the territory of the entire Ile-de-France region and not that of the City of Paris alone. In this way, the territory of the municipality of Xi’an has undergone a series of extensions since 1954, and it seems that a project for unifying the two municipalities of Xi’an to the south of the Wei River and of Xianyang to the north has often been suggested. This unification would restore the historic territory of the city on both banks of the river, bringing together the present-day inhabitants with their ancestors, whose tombs are located in the mountains to the northwest. This relationship is at once origin-oriented and original according to the founding tradition of geomancy. It draws together the living and the dead, the physical and the symbolic, restoring the flow of energy and power to the present-day inhabitants, and has been a feature of other capital cities like Beijing or Nanjing. In the case of Xi’an, it enables us to understand the development of the city today. Indeed, it is the presence in the vicinity of the city of the tomb of the Qin emperor Shihuangdi and of his army of warriors cast in terracotta, discovered in 1974, that has made Xi’an the top-of-the-list destination for any tour of China. Shihuangdi is considered to be the ruler who first unified the Empire, the ancestral monarch of the Han dynasty, “Han” being the name of the Chinese people properly speaking, an ethnic group that officially represents 91.6 % of the 1.3 billion inhabitants of the People’s Republic. Considering the respect shown to ancestors and their worship throughout the entire history of Chinese civilisation, we can easily measure the importance of the city of Xi’an in the memory and collective imagination of the modern-day society. It is this historic destiny that earned Xi’an the status of a “City of history and culture” when the first list of 24 cities was drawn up in 1982. Today Xi’an is doubtless the leading tourist destination in all of China. In 1979 it totalled some 18,202 tourists, in 1984, 138,500, in 1994, 415,000, and so on. If we are to believe the UNESCO forecasts for the whole of China made in 1999, extrapolated from the 24 million visitors recorded in 1998, the figure quoted for 2020 is 137 million visitors.[14] Any attempt to put forward population figures for Chinese cities today is bound to be wide of the mark, since statistics often vary considerably. In late 2005 the Chinese government re-adjusted the figures given for the GNP in 2004, which increased some 16.8 %. There is little doubt that the re-assessment of population figures

for cities may vary just as much when the floating population engaged in the rural exodus is counted ; workers who gravitate to cities from poor rural areas, and who do not have the famous haikou, the residence permit that entitles people to move to an urban centre. What is more, the perimeters defining municipalities change quickly and, since they have been modified so many times, it is difficult to obtain figures useful for comparison for any given area. In the case of the municipality of Xi’an for example, the perimeter was extended in 1954, 1958, 1966, 1972 and 1983, almost doubling each time, encompassing vast tracts of agricultural land and heralding the major urban mutations that were going on. Urban growth from 1949 to 2002 Real estate laws in China obey two systems. While the land belongs to the State, its status is municipal in urban centres and depends on the village authority in rural areas. Because of this, there are many conflicts with rural populations today over projects for urban extensions or the implantation of industrial complexes. But at the same time Chinese cities are faced with the task of accommodating millions of new migrants arriving from country areas. The great movement of urbanization that got under way in the 1980 s, when less than 20 % of the population was urban (30 % in the 90 s, close to 40 % in 2005) will not stop in the near future. The government’s objectives are to reach a balance close to that of “so-called developed countries”, meaning 70 % to 80 % of urban dwellers, which means the displacement and installation in cities of some 15 millions inhabitants per annum, and from 400 to 500 million in the longer term. In 2004 the population of Xi’an was estimated to be around 4.8 million for the built-up area and 2.8 for the centre. This is nowhere near the figures for the built-up areas of the four major municipalities, which are estimated in tens of millions. In Shanghai the figures are 8.2 million for the centre and 17.1 M for the built-up area ; Beijing 7.3 M for the centre and 14.5 M for the built-up area ; Tianjin 5.8 and 10.1 M ; Chungqing 3.1 M for the centre, but 31 million for the built-up area, making it the most densely populated built-up area in the world, before Tokyo (28 M), New York (20 M), Mexico City and Bombay (18 M each).[15] In this context, for population Xi’an rates 11 th among Chinese cities. But since it is located “at the centre of geographic gravity” of the landmass and inland, Xi’an in

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Pierre ClĂŠment


Fig. 3. Comparatives studies. Evolution of Chinese Capitals. From Wu Liangyong, pp. 89-90, A Brief History of Ancient Chinese City Planning, Urbs et Regio – GHK, Kassel, 1986.

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the future will have to do its share in re-balancing the population share-out towards the west. It should thus see swift population growth, like neighbouring Zhengzhou, in the Henan province, which is preparing to double its population by building a new city of 2.5 million inhabitants. The evolution of population figures for Xi’an since the middle of the 20 th century may be reconstituted summarily as follows, based in part on the work of Shinz,[16]

almost doubled, from 1.5 to 2.8 million, which means that it has absorbed 1.3 million of the extra 2 million. This strong growth rate in old Chinese cities after the middle of the 20 th century has led to the development of non-urbanized lands within the boundary walls, followed by increased densification of the existing urban fabric, and ultimately to the spilling over of rampart walls and historic limits and the proliferation of peripheral districts. At Xi’an, where the Ming rampart has been conserved, the idea seems to be to redesign “the reference plan” of the Tang capital In his comparison of reference plan outlines since 1949 and of the road network plan of 1980, Bruno Fayolle Lussac retraces the re-composition of the great plan of the Tang, although topographic obstacles to the southeast have introduced a diagonal that, for the sake of symmetry, has been duplicated in the west, where there was a former canal whose trace already marked an oblique line running from northwest to southeast.

1936 154,541 inhabitants for 207,66 km² 1948 628,449 1953 787,000 1958 1,368,000 municipality extended to 2,283 km² 1982 2,943,457 (urban : 1,518,281 for 130 km²) 2004 4,800,000 (urban : 2,800,000) Northwest region in 1982 : 77,660,586 inhabitants for 868,900 km². In 1995, the urbanized metropolitan area totalled 1,532.4 km² for 5.6 M inhabitants, with the central area of 440 km² holding 4.35 M of them. In 2004 these last-named population figures were respectively 4.8 M and 2.8 M. 2003 Shaanxi 37 M inhabitants. Area 205,600 km²

Since 1982, then, the population of the municipality has passed from some 3 million to 5 million, which means that it has had to accommodate an extra 2 million inhabitants. In the case of the central area, its population has Fig. 4. Cities of the living and cities of the dead.

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The preservation of the Ming rampart Although the word for “city”, cheng, originally designated the boundary wall or the ramparts — since most old cities were fortified — very few of these walls have survived the late 20 th century. When the Communist regime came to power, a dispute arose concerning the ramparts of Beijing. At the time, the architect Liang Sicheng tried to show what benefits could be derived from these ramparts by turning them into public spaces, with a superb promenade. But the authorities passed over his idea in favour of a ring road, leaving here and there a few isolated gates and fragments of the old walls. Suzhou, Nanjing and Xi’an kept their ramparts. At Xi’an, the ramparts could not be dissociated from the history of the city, a history that is part of the collective memory of the Chinese people. They are reminders of the famous dynasties of ancient China, when the city was a great capital. From the Han dynasty that took root there to those of the Sui and the Tang, history has left its marks on the territory. Besides being a historic capital for all of China, under the Tang the city was a model of urban development that inspired builders of capitals in neighbouring lands such as Korea and Japan.[17] And even today it is the design of the Tang capital that informs the urban pattern, as if it were the negative from which the image was re-composed in the 20 th century. This design, updated by new urban development schemes, has been accompanied by a “neo-Tang” architectural production that borrows spatial models and architectonic expression from ancient examples, as the work of the architect Mrs Zhang Jinqiu has shown. Roads have been widened, monuments freed to open vistas and co-visibility, and “cultural streets” have been redesigned. In the middle of the 1980 s, after several years of economic reforms following the implementation of the heritage policy that defined the concept of the “cities of history and culture”, the authorities in Beijing undertook to modernize the area around Liulichuang Street. This street has been famous since the Qing dynasty and is the equivalent of the Saint- Germain-des-Prés quarter in Paris, with its boutiques for artists’ materials, brushes, papers, paints and inks, as well as its booksellers and antique dealers. But did this entail the rehabilitation of old buildings or their identical reconstruction ? In fact, the

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approach chosen was to “reconstitute a new Qing quarter”.[18] The street was widened by demolishing constructions on both sides, following which leading specialized architects, historians of architecture, craftsmen and artists were commissioned to recompose a new street front with new courtyard houses and boutiques, larger and more spacious than the old ones, using the materials of today treated in such a way as to give them the appearance and the decor associated with the Qing dynasty. With its new “street of culture”’ label, the street has become extremely popular and economically dynamic, so much so that the model has been copied by other big Chinese cities. Xi’an too has had to build its street of culture. Depending on the city, these “streets of culture” refer to the historic dynasties and the high prestige of the city in the past, during the Song, Ming and Qing dynasties, etc. The past has been recomposed and re-invented. In Xi’an it was this model that served in redesigning the Street of Three Paths that leads from the South Gate to the Museum of the Steles.


16. op.cit. p.137. 17. Cf. Fiévé. 18. Clément, Pierre, “Métamorphoses de la rue Liulichang”, Courrier de l’Unesco, “La mémoire des rues”, August 1989, pp.38-40. 19. op.cit. p.17.

If we analyse the urban policy of the major Chinese cities and the development principles that have been applied there, we are sure to find analogies with age-old practises that bear witness to the permanence of models and ways and means in the long term. Modern urban design as we see it at work in Chinese cities attempts to adapt their urban space to the automobile by widening existing roads, opening large avenues, laying out ring roads, imposing the grid plan pattern, and creating the first public spaces. This has been the case in Beijing since 1949, with the help of Soviet experts, for the opening up of Chang’an Avenue, the east-west route perpendicular to the historic 100-meter wide imperial north-south axis in the centre of the city, which was originally 40 km long. The opening up of the space in front of the Gate of Celestial Peace provided the opportunity for laying out the square of the same name — Tiananmen Square — in 1958-59, which signalled the start of the period known as the “Great Leap Forward”, and was illustrated in Beijing by the construction of 10 major projects to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the “Liberation”. Needless to say, this quadrangular pattern reminds us of the system that characterized the traditional Zhou dynasty model, which was used in many capital cities ; in Chang’an for example, and in Dadu, the Mongol capital that was the founding matrix of Beijing. As for the

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Xi’an and chinese cities in project

width of the streets, we should bear in mind that the six main avenues in Chang’an during the Tang period were between 120 and 134 metres wide,[19] the equivalent of Avenue Foch or the Avenue de l’Observatoire in Paris today, and much wider than the 72 metres between the street-fronts on the Champs-Elysées, or even the 100 metres of Century Avenue at Pudong in Shanghai. Today, these Chinese cities are preparing to carry the flow of millions of automobiles.

that China was to develop. The Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, like the Communist regime, concentrated their administrative and political power in Beijing, the new capital city of the North. But 80 % of the population of China has long been confined to a mere 20 % of the national territory, along the eastern seaboard, where Shanghai enjoyed economic supremacy even before 1949. Hong Kong and the province of Canton, the free ports, the special economic zones, Shanghai again and the lower Yangzi, Tianjin and Beijing are the three megalopolises that continue to unbalance China towards its eastern seaboard. Chungqing, Chengdu and the province of Sichuan have for thousands of years acted as a counterweight to the northerly concentration of official history, and even today continue to affirm their own original development. Today, in the interior, to the west, it is the historic city of Xi’an that is spearheading the rebalancing of China’s population, an outpost for the redevelopment of new territories. History and geography play a primordial role in Xi’an, and have done so since the days when it marked the limits of the western marches and was the great inland capital that commanded the continental Silk Road, which established commerce with the West.

Xi’an, city of the interior Xi’an ceased to be a capital in 904, when China’s centre of gravity shifted. While in Northern China, in particular around the midland basin of the Yellow River, the emperor Shihuangdi unified the 18 provinces of China, thus opening the way for the Han dynasty, in later periods it was further to the east and more to the south of the lower Yangzi, around Hangzhou, Nanjing and Suzhou,

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Chinese chronology



Five years national plans and Xi’an overall master plans

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11 th century to 256 BC Zhou Dynasty : Western Zhou (11th c. – 771) Eastern Zhou (770 – 256).

221 – 2070 Qin Dynasty

206 BC – 220 AD Han Dynasty

220 – 2650 Wei Dynsaty

265 – 3160 Western Jin

317 – 5890 Northern and Southern Dynasties

581 – 6180 Sui Dynasty

618 – 9070 Tang Dynasty

907 – 9600 Five Dynasties

960 – 1279 Song dynasty : Northern Song (960 – 1127) Southern Song (1127 – 1279)

1264 – 1368 Yuan Dynasty (Mongols)

1368 – 1644 Ming Dynasty

1644 – 1912 Qing Dynasty (Mandchus)

1912 – 1946 Republic of China

1949 – 0000 Popular Republic of China

1.  1953

– 1957 (Xi’an 1 st Overall Master Plan 1953 – 1972)

2.  1958

– 1962 (Xi’an Master Plan, 1959)

3.  1966

– 1970

4.  1971

– 1975

5.  1976

– 1980

6.  1981

– 1985 (Xi’an 2 nd Overall Master ���������������� Plan����� 1980 – 2000)

7.  1986

– 1990 (Xi’an protection plan of the Ming city, 1989)

8.  1991

– 1995

9.  1996

– 2000 (Xi’an 3 rd Overall Master ���������������� Plan����� 1995 – 2020)

10.  2001

– 2005 (Xi’an 4 th Overall Master ���������������� Plan����� 2004 – 2020)

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CONTRIBUTORS Cerise Emmanuel, architect. He is Ph.D candidate, IPRAUS, University of Paris VIII Phd : “Constitution of the Hanoi city through planification and local residents uses and practices ; urbanism, urban design and architecture in Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Laos…). Research and fieldwork : housing problems and urban cartography, Southeast Asia.

Clément Pierre, architect,urban planner. He is professor at the National Superior School of Architecture, Paris-Belleville (ENSAPB) ; Director of IPRAUS, UMR 7136 of CNRS, Architecture Urbanism, Society (AUS). Research and fieldwork : urbanism and architecture in East and Southeast Asia

Fayolle Lussac Bruno, architecture historian and archaeologist. Retired from National Superior School of Architecture and Landscape, Bordeaux (ENSAP Bx) and from research team PVP (Production de la ville et du patrimoine). Researcher in IPRAUS, UMR 7136 of CNRS, Architecture, urbanisme, société (AUS). Research and fieldwork on history of architecture, heritage and urban development in France and China.

Fiévé Nicolas, architect. Research officer, CNRS��������������������  ;������������������ Professor at the ��������������� École pratique des Hautes études (Paris)�����������������������������������  ;��������������������������������� Assistant director of UMR 8155, CNRS, Centre de recherches sur les civilisations chinoise, japonaise et tibétaine. Research and fieldwork on urbanism, architecture, landscape and gardens in Japan.

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Xi’an – an ancient city in the modern world

Grytli Eir Ragna, architect. She is professor at the Department of Architectural Design, History and Technology, NTNU, (The Norwegian University of Science and Technology). Research and fieldwork on architecture, urban development and building conser­vation in China, Tibet and Norway for 12 years.

Heng Chyie Kiang, architect. He is professor / deputy head of the Department of Architecture at the National university of Singapore (NUS). Research and publications on architecture and urban design, history of architecture, related to chinese architecture and city.

Høyem Harald, architect. He is professor at the Department of Architectural Design, History and Technology, NTNU, (The Norwegian University of Science and Technology). Research and field work on architecture, urban development, building conservation and anthropology in China, Tibet and Norway, for 17 years.

Lancret Nathalie, architect. She is researcher officer CNRS : IPRAUS, UMR 7136 Architecture Urbanism, Society (AUS) and assistant professor, National Superior School of Architecture, Paris-Belleville. Research and fieldwork on architecture and urban form : heritage and modernity in Southeast Asia

Liu Hui, architect, PhD. She is assistant professor, director of the Landscape Architecture Section in the College of Architecture, Xi’an University of Architecture & Technology. The general-secretary of the Association of Tang Style Garden Art of Xi’an. Research and Fieldwork : Environment, greening and landscapes in Northwest China.

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Loubes Jean-Paul, architect.

Wang Tao, architect, Ph‑D.

He is professor at the National Superior School of Architecture and landscape of Bordeaux (ENSAP Bx). Research and fieldwork on ethno-architecture in China and Central Asia, from 15 years.

He is post-Doc in the School of Architecture, Tsing Hua University, Beijing. Research and fieldwork on housing policy, housing and planning in China and Norway for 10 years.

Ren Yunying, architect.

Wu Hongqi, historian,

She is Associate Professor of the Xi’an University of Architecture and Technology ; the Ph.D. candidate of the Center for Historical Environment and Socio-Economic Development in Northwest China of Shaanxi Normal University. / Research and fieldwork on the historical civic geography and urban planning in China.

Ph‑D. He is professor in the History Department of Jinan University, Xi’an. Research and fieldwork in historical geography and chinese social history.

Rihal Dorothée, historian, sinologist. She is Ph.D candidate (the Societies in development in space and time), SEDET, University of Paris 7. Research and fieldwork in foreign concessions, urban history and cultural heritage, China.

Shi Hongshuai, historian He is assistant professor, Center for Historical Environment and Socio-Economic Development in Northwest China of Shaanxi Normal University, Xi’an. Research and fieldwork in Historical Geography and Environment Historyin China.


Xiao Ailing, architect. She is assistant professor and Ph‑D. Candidate of the Center for Historical Environment and Socio-Economic Development in Northwest China of Shaanxi Normal University. Research and fieldwork on the historical civic geography of China.

Xiao Li, architect. She is professor in the College of Architecture, Xi’an University of Architecture & Technology.

Yin Lei. Born in 1979, Architectural Bachelor Degree in XUAT, post-graduate student from 2002 to now on the study of green space system of Xi’an City in XUAT.

Wang Fang Born in 1978, Landscape Design Bachelor Degree in Beijing Forestry University, work in the Parent Company of Lv-hua of Xi’an city from 2000 to now.

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Zhu Shiguang, male, born in 1939, Professor, work in the Center for Historical Environment and SocioEconomic Development in Northwest China of Shaanxi Normal University. Main special field is on the evolution of the historical environment and the ancient capital of China.

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Publisher  : Florence Pétry Proofreading : Jean-Marie Clarke Graphic design : Julien Gineste / Sandra Chamaret Printing : Darantière Éditions Recherches 17 impasse Mousset 75012 Paris France

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Éditions Recherches Extrait du catalogue

Éditions Recherches/Ipraus Collection Cahiers de l’Ipraus

Bernard Barraqué, Jacques Theys (dir.) Les politiques d’environnement. Évaluation de la première génération : 1971-1995 392 p.

Annie Térade (dir.) Paris, formes urbaines et architectures 200 p., 118 ill. n / b

Philippe Bonnin (dir.) Architecture espace pensé, epace vécu 288 p., 40 ill. n/b Karen Bowie (dir.) La Modernité avant Haussmann. Formes de l’espace urbain à Paris, 1801-1853 408 p., 95 ill. n / b Anne-Marie Châtelet, Dominique Lerch, Jean-Noël Luc (dir.) L’école de plein air. Une expérience pédagogique et architecturale dans l’Europe du XXe siècle 432 p., 112 ill. n / b Clément-Noël Douady Les Dragons de Persan. La restructuration d’un quartier sensible 160 p. dont 16 couleur, 155 ill. n / b Nicole Eleb-Harlé, Conception et coordination des projets urbains 224 p., 150 ill. n / b Roger-Henri Guerrand/École nationale supérieure d’architecture de Paris-Belleville Vive l’hédonisme démocratique (coord. Ginette Baty-Tornikian) 304 p. couleur, nb. ill. Isaac Joseph (dir.) Prendre place. Espace public et culture dramatique 304 p.

Ginette Baty-Tornikian, Amina Sellali (dir.) Cités-jardins. Genèse et actualité d’une utopie 160 p., 108 ill. n / b Pierre Clément, Nathalie Lancret (dir.) Hanoï. Le cycle des métamorphoses 352 p. dont 56 pl. de reprod. couleur, 200 ill. n / b Michèle Lambert-Bresson, Annie Térade (dir.), Villes françaises au XIXe siècle. Aménagement, extension et embellissement 192 p., 90 ill. n / b Michèle Lambert-Bresson, Annie Térade (dir.) Villes françaises dans la première moitié du XIXe siècle. Embellissement, équipement, transformation, 240 p., 100 ill. n / b

Collection Questionnements Anne Grillet-Aubert, Sabine Guth Transport et architecture du territoire 160 p., 50 ill. n / b Anne Grillet-Aubert, Sabine Guth Déplacements. Architectures du transport : territoires en mutation 256 p., 120 ill. n / b

Dominique Larroque, M. Margairaz, P. Zembri Paris et ses transports XIXe-XXe siècles 400 p., 50 ill. n / b Marie-Odile Terrenoire Le travail d’architecture au temps des cathédrales 164 p., 50 ill. n / b Jean-Louis Violeau (entretiens réunis par) Quel enseignement pour l’architecture ? 184 p. Jean-Louis Violeau Les architectes et Mai 68 496 p. dont 16 d’ill. n / b Serge Wachter Trafics en ville. L’architecture et l’urbanisme au risque de la mobilité 168 p., 50 ill. n / b

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Collection Archithèses Davisi Boontharm Bangkok, évolution urbaine et formes du commerce 384 p. couleur. Zhang Liang La naissance du concept de patrimoine en Chine, XIXe-XXe siècles 288 p., 65 ill. n / b France Mangin Le patrimoine indochinois. Hanoi et autres sites 392 p., nb. ill. n / b, 8 pl. couleur.

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This book is about the evolution of a central Chinese metropolis from 1949 to the end of the 21st century. It presents this evolution from the perspective of both its urban and architectural forms, which are replaced within their geographical and historical contexts. Xi’an, capital of the province of Shaanxi in northwest China, is of great interest for the study of contemporary Chinese cities. Its long history is attested by the archaeological sites of the ancient imperial capitals, particularly of the Han and the Tang dynasties, not to mention the discovery in 1974 of the terracotta army of the Qin emperor Shihuangdi 30 kilometres north of the city. Xi’an is now one of the major poles of development in western China. Beyond its interest as a monographic study, the purpose of this publication is to show the application of the models for transforming contemporary Chinese urban space, as well as their adaptation in the regional context. In the middle of the book is an album of 43 plates with maps and ground plans that provide spatial and multi-level points of reference, especially for the evolution of the contemporary urban form. This album creates a link between the contents of the various articles, most of which are illustrated, and so reinforces the coherence of the whole. This book features contributions by Chinese, French and Norwegian authors working within a cooperative framework that associates three educational and research institutions: the research laboratory of the IPRAUS at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Paris-Belleville, the Department of Architecture of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim and the PVP research team at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture et de Paysage in Bordeaux.


École d’architecture et de paysage de Bordeaux


an ancient city in a modern world

Xi an - an ancient city in a modern world  
Xi an - an ancient city in a modern world