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December 26, 2013

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Historic buildings protected by law

Shanghai yesterday issued a draft law to protect over 4,000 historic buildings in the city, many of which are in a dilapidated state and lack protection.

The local legislative body approved the first draft of the Shanghai Cultural Relics Protection Law that stipulates owners of the protected buildings cannot change the facade, structure or inner decoration of the buildings.

“Many of the buildings were damaged or destroyed during urban construction, while preservation efforts for other buildings suffered because of lack of governmental funds,” said Hu Jinjun, director general of the Shanghai Municipal Administration of Cultural Heritage.

Shanghai has a total of 4,422 immovable historic structures, including 29 sites of national level — far more than any other cities in the country, Hu said.

Some 3,266 of the city’s protected structures were built after 1840.

Many cultural heritage resources like former residential buildings of celebrities and industrial relics are still not accessible to the public. They are  used as residential buildings or offices instead, he added.

“A major reason for that is in most of the cases it was unclear who should take the responsibility to take care of the buildings,” he told local lawmakers yesterday.

The city has more than 1,500 structures that were homes of famous people from home and abroad, but 57 percent of them are not well-maintained, said Wang Anshi, an architect and member of the city’s historic building protection committee. “Most of the old buildings are badly damaged because many families have lived there for years. Most of them have wooden structures,” Wang said.

The three buildings that used to be Shanghai Art Academy in Huangpu District have deteriorated into shabby homes over the past 60 years as more than 40 families live there.

The 150-year-old downtown building known as “Shen’s House” in Huangpu District was nearly torn down last year but was halted after the district government intervened following media reports. The roof and walls of the three-story wooden structure on Huayi Street have been removed, but some delicate sculptures of flowers and patterns on pillars and beams and other relics have been saved.

Under the new rules, the owners will be punished under the country’s cultural heritage law while the government body responsible for the building’s protection will be penalized.



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