Modern touches help safeguard Suzhou's past

By Cang Wei in Suzhou, Jiangsu | China Daily | Updated: 2023-10-26 07:22
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Pingjiang Road and the Suzhou Museum are among the attractions in the 2,500-year-old city. ZHOU LIANG/WANG JIANZHONG/FOR CHINA DAILY

Precious treasures preserved, ancient properties restored

The city of Suzhou in Jiangsu province has long been a dream destination for lovers of Chinese history and culture.

Dating back some 2,500 years, the city evokes a sense of elegance and charm with its picturesque canals, traditional gardens and ancient streets.

Suzhou is home to numerous alleyways and old houses, with its graceful willow trees bringing a sense of calm to visitors and residents.

At the heart of the city lies Pingjiang Road. Situated in Gusu district, the thoroughfare is a living testament to a glorious past and thriving future.

Pingjiang Road is located alongside the Pingjiang River, and the Pingjiang Road Historical Block is the city's best-preserved area.

The road's layout has basically remained unchanged since the days of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and the Song Dynasty (960-1279).

President Xi Jinping emphasized during his visit to Jiangsu in July that Pingjiang Road is a precious treasure for the inheritance and promotion of traditional Chinese culture, and the road should be used well and protected.

It is not only important to inherit the road in material forms, but also in people's hearts, he said.

The authorities in Suzhou have invested heavily to preserve the city's ancient architecture, customs and fascinating stories that have emerged through the ages. Pingjiang Road stands as a shining example of the city's commitment to such efforts.

In March 2019, the first phase of the Suzhou Ancient City Revival Architectural Design Workshop, jointly organized by the Suzhou Municipal People's Government and the China Architecture Society, officially started.

No 30 Jianxin Lane was selected for a research project. By using a strategy of "preserving the old while introducing the new", fresh technologies were applied to old properties in the lane, and traditional garden aesthetics were integrated with future lifestyles, providing new methods to revive the ancient city.

However, as the protection work gradually progressed, problems arose, with urban renewal and protection of the ancient city becoming an extremely complex project.

The Leading Group for the Protection of Suzhou National Historical and Cultural City was formed in April last year to efficiently coordinate and resolve various issues regarding protection work in the city. The group is headed by the main leaders of the municipal Party committee and the municipal government.

Fang Wenbang, Gusu district chief, who also heads the Suzhou National Historical and Cultural City Conservation Zone's Party Working Committee, said: "In the past, we vigorously developed the new city while protecting the ancient one, laying the foundation for Suzhou's integration of old and new. We now need to promote the conservation of the ancient city from a higher perspective and with a broader vision."

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