The Second Conference of Chinese Industrial Architectural Heritage, Chongqing

Bulletin n°55 (2012), The International Committee for the Conservation of the Industrial Heritage (TICCH)

Yiping Dong

Since the State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH) started to pay attention to Industrial Heritage officially in 2006, the academic dis- cussions have grown rapidly and reached some conclusions. The Industrial Architecture Heritage Academia Committee (IAHAC), which is the first organization about IH in China, was founded under the Architectural Society of China (ASC) in 2010’s first conference of Chinese Industrial Architectural Heritage in Beijing. During this first Conference, the IAHAC raised the “Beijing Proposal” about saving Chinese Industrial Heritage, under the Nizhny Tagil Charter in 2003 by TICCIH and Wuxi Proposal in 2006 by SACH, and planned to continue the conferences every year.

The Second Conference in November last year (2011) was held by two Universities, Tsinghua and Chongqing, with support by SACH and ICOMOS China.

There were five sessions: 1) IH with regional perspective; 2) IH Conservation and Urban Regeneration; 3) Case Study on local IH; 4) Space Pattern and Transformation of Industrial buildings; 5) Industrial landscape and Art. Along the meeting, there were two exhibitions, one of old industrial images in Chongqing, and another about conservation design throughout China. Twelve key speeches in the first day were mainly about the survey and conservation of urban industrial sites in Chongqing, Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai, which are now facing the rapid urban development, then the session discussion for the second day with 28 papers, following a great excursion about Chongqing’s IH. There were almost 2000 delegates and 75 papers, which doubled the 2010 meeting.

The high density speeches and session discussions show some trends in China’s IH research. Firstly, the geographical region of research has been enlarged, from the highly industrialized eastern coastal area and traditional industrial region to the mid-western such as Sichuan, Yunnan, Henan, Gansu, etc. Secondly, the time frame is no longer focused on the Westernization Movement (ca. 1860-1900) or before 1949, more papers discussing the first Five-year Plan (1953-1957) period and more closer period, the industrial construction aided by Soviet Union. Thirdly, some thematic topics emerged such as railways, including the Yunnan- Vietnam Railway (1889) and Chinese Eastern Railway (1896). Value analysis of IH, survey and recording techniques, and combining Creative Industries with IH, etc. The last but not least is the focus about relation of Reuse and Conservation. Sme argue for Reuse as the final destination, and others insist that conservation is the most important issue, and reuse is just a method. This divergence resulted from the concept misunderstanding. Industrial Heritage is still a vague term in the Chinese context, and needs more clarification, while the selection of IH sites is quite a subjective process, lacking overall technological assessment.

As the organizer and participants and are mostly in architecture and urban planning, the discussion paid more attention to space issues and regeneration, while the historical perspective, especially technological history and social history of industry, are nearly absent from the dis- course. The contamination problem of former industrial area hasn’t got enough attention. The next step should be getting more fields involved.

Other good news about IH in China: The Third National Monument Survey by SACH (2007-2012) is closing, having identified thousands of industrial sites, buildings and machines. The former Capital Steel Plant areas in Beijing, the Chinese Eastern Railway, are selected as the top 100 new discoveries from this Survey.


Oriane Pillet

Intern at the CNRS, UrbaChina project. M.A. in urban local development (IEDES, Paris); M.A. in international development studies (Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris - Utrecht University); B.A. in geography and law (Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris).

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