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August 1, 2015

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Renovation plan for Cangcheng

CANGCHENG, a town with 500 years of history in Songjiang District, is well into a major renovation and restoration project that began after the site was listed as one of Shanghai’s 32 historical and cultural areas in 2005.

The project is already in its 10th year and officials admit they aren’t sure when it will be completed because the main goal is to retain the original look of the houses.

“We haven’t got a firm timetable when the whole project will be finished because it is a complicated task to restore all the ancient buildings,” said Zhuang Qin, deputy director of Cangcheng Old City Development Office.

The old city covers 66 hectares, with a core zone of 19.5 hectares. It contains two heritage sites protected at the city level — Yi Garden, built in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), and Dacang Bridge, which dates back 385 years.

It also contains nine heritage sites under district-level protection and 81 registered cultural relics that cannot be removed from the town. There are 18 ancient mansions with another 19 architectural sites of cultural significance yet to be registered.

The project called for 3,300 families in old, dilapidated houses to be relocated.

In the past few years, about 1,700 households were moved to more modern housing. Most of the older houses in Cangcheng were state-owned and used for public housing. After all households have been relocated, ancient architecture experts from Shanghai Jiao Tong University will conduct field trips and survey the structures. Family trees will be researched and archives of old architectural details scrutinized.

Experts from the university, the local museum, the Bureau of Cultural Relics and the redevelopment company will work together on a detailed renovation plan.

Most of the construction workers on the project come from neighboring Zhejiang Province and have experience in repairing and renovating ancient Chinese houses.


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