"Reasonable utilization" of historic buildings in China: the restoration of the Temple of Wisdom
While the restoration of the Temple of Wisdom was honored in 2012 with an UNESCO Asian-Pacific Award for Cultural Heritage Conservation, the management and reuse of the building also received a lot of criticism, in particular the “TRB” (Temple Restaurant Beijing) section, which includes a new restaurant, gallery and an hotel. It has caused a heated debate on how to restore historical buildings and how to combine it with new reutilization. This essay is going to talk about the establishment of the temple, followed by an outline of the evolution of the temple on the basis of several historical maps and surveys. The lecture will then turn to some details of the restoration by looking at modern photographs, and finally, it will raise some issues as regards the topic of “Reasonable Utilization” in China, compared with projects in Europe and other parts of Asia.
Dr. Zhang is a lecturer at the School of Architecture of the Beijing University of Technology (BJUT), on secondment at the TU-Delft as an UKNA guest researcher. He received his PhD of Architectural History and Theory from Tsinghua University in 2010 and started his teaching career at the same time at BJUT. His research focuses on the conservation and revitalisation of architectural heritage in China and Europe. The work on the Temple of Wisdom started in 2007 and the relevant essay "The study on mapping and the building age of SongZhu Temple" was published in 2008. Recently, Zhang gave lectures on the conservation and restoration of the Zhi Zhu temple at GDUT (Guangdong University of Technology) and BJUF (Beijing Forestry University).
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