Historic Preservation

  • "Emerging out of the exchanges between Eastern and Western cultures during the period of WWII, Lifen is a great example of blending Chinese national style with the characteristics of Western architecture."

Yimin Hu | East China Architectural Design & Research Institute

During the summer of 2021, I interned as an architect assistant at Historic Building Preservation Design Institute of East China Architectural Design & Research Institute (EACDI) in Shanghai, China. Established as a rather new department since 2008, the institute undertakes a range of programs focusing on the protection and planning of historical regions, urban renewal, protection and sustainable design for historic buildings, renovation and renewal design of existing buildings (including industrial heritage), and new architectural design in historical contexts.

The project that I was fortunately able to take part in from its early stage is partly located in Bao-yuan Li of Wuhan, China. The neighborhood is consisted of over 40 units of Lifen Architecture that, similar to bystreets in Beijing and Shikumen/Long tang in Shanghai, is a typical type of traditional residential building type in Hankou, one of the three towns merged to become modern-day Wuhan city. Emerging out of the exchanges between eastern and western cultures during the period of WWII, Lifen is a great example of blending Chinese national style with the characteristics of western architecture as it combines western duplex townhouses with local traditional quadrangles. Bao-yuan Li, located at the intersection of Bao-hua Street and Huitong Road and built in 1911, is registered among the list of outstanding historic buildings in Wuhan and the goal of the project aims at a full range of preservation, restoration and rehabilitation works to revive the underused, and partly dilapidated neighborhood with a further developed mix use of both residential and commercial purposes depending on the historic use and current conditions of the structures.

My responsibility was to produce a series of plan, elevation and section drawings from the earlier stage of demolition schemes that determine what to preserve and what to remove to the later stage of restoration schemes based on available historic documentation and personal, yet well-founded speculation formed through a comprehensive study of the neighborhood context. Renderings of important elevations along the major streets and sketch-up models of typical residential units were also made to better visualize our intended effect. After working on the final presentation of schematic design to our clients, I was able to continue working on the same site and buildings with more depth by producing further-developed drawings as the project moved on to the Design Development Phase after feedbacks from all stakeholders were collected. During the process, more cooperative and integrative teamwork with the engineering and technical departments was required to generate drawings of greater details and precision with specific strategies of reinforcement or dismantling. This opportunity of working with Historic Building Preservation Design Institute grants me a lot as it enables me to participate in a rather complete process of preservation design within a historic setting and to apply a full range of strategies and tools that I have learned until now.