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Protecting Lhasa's old district

Hoping not to become just a historical replica is the city of Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region. A plan has been made to renovate the ancient buildings and courtyards in the city's old district. But anthropologists are concerned that remodeling the popular tourist destination could also demolish a well-preserved area of authentic Tibetan culture. So they're asking, what's the right way to make the old district new?

The renovation project in Lhasa's old district covers the region's sewers, circuit system, fire control and external insulation. But most importantly, all of the work must be done without damaging the original architectural style.

Tserdan, project leader of Old District Preservation Project, said, "For example, now we see there are different windows along this street. Some are wood-framed, some are aluminium, the looks vary and most of them can't keep the house warm. We are planning to replace some of them with dust-proof, thermal, and good looking ones. "

Many centuries-old buildings here are tagged as "cultural heritages". But that label also means the buildings require more careful renovations to keep them standing in modern times.

Tibetan architect Minyag Choekyi Gyaltsan said, "The buildings to the city are like clothes to a man. We don't need glamorous stage costumes to wear everyday, so we want the buildings to be modest, elegant, but well-functioning as well. We have to respect the ancient philosophy of architecture. "

This building named "Labrang Nyingba" used to be a worn-down house. After discussions between both local and foreign architects, the 5-hundred-year old courtyard was remodelled for its old residents, while its original look was kept intact.

Gyaltsan said, "It would only be a waste of time and effort if we renovate an empty house. We are doing this for the residents, to make their living conditions better. In the meantime, it's the people living inside that determine the longevity of a house. They make the houses beautiful."

In order to complete renovations by the Summer, the usual peak time for Lhasa's tourist season, more than 400 construction workers are working day and night in the cold winter. Though historical scholars still worry about the harms of the tourism industry, the restoration planners are confident they can keep the city's traditions alive without losing out on modern culture or the tourist market.

Source: Ecns.cn
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