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A Tale of City: The Old City Transformation of Beijing in the 20th Century


Author: Wang Jun

Year: 2021

Publisher: SDX Joint Publishing Company

ISBN: 9787108018168 (368 pages, in Chinese)

During the ten years of writing this book, the author Wang Jun interviewed more than 50 people, collected, and consulted a large amount of first-hand historical data. In addition, Wang Jun also visited important historic buildings in Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei Province, and Shanxi Province, and conducted an in-depth survey on the urban development model of Beijing and its preservation of cultural relics. This book is composed of ten chapters. Starting from the reality of Beijing, the book focuses on debates in the construction history of Beijing over the past fifty years. Among them, importance is attached to the 1950s and 1960s. In addition, it also includes the life stories of architects and planners, such as Liang Sicheng, Lin Huiyin, Chen Zhanxiang, and Hua Lanhong, trying to clarify the causes and consequences of the "Liang-Chen Proposal" and the subsequent development of urban planning. The emergence of the so-called "big roof" buildings in Beijing and demolition of ancient buildings such as the city walls are closely related to the historical periods of "Transforming a City of Consumption into a City of Production," "Criticism on Back to the Ancients," "Great Leap Forward," "Rectification Movement and the 100 Schools of Thought," and "Cultural Revolution." Equally important are more than three hundred illustrations in the book. Among them, many photographs and drawings are from private collections, such as the drawings in Mr. Liang Sicheng's work notes and the initially published water colour sketches of Liang Sicheng.

Source:China City Planning Review, 2022, 31(4), pp. 85-86.