Intl conference opens in Xi’an to discuss sustainability of ancient architecture
Published: Nov 08, 2023 08:58 PM
Xi'an Photo: VCG

Xi'an Photo: VCG

Aiming to find paths for the sustainable development of ancient walls and castle legacies around the world, an international conference was recently held in Xi'an, in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province.

The event was named the "2023 International Ancient Walls and Castles Alliance Conference." This year's agenda focused on the protection and sustainable development of ancient walls, aiming to share the latest conservation efforts addressing this subject worldwide.

Xiang Xinshuang, a cultural heritage expert, told the Global Times that the conservation of ancient architectures is a "global issue," particularly crucial for countries with long historical civilizations like Italy and China.

Apart from China, the 2023 event involved countries such as the UK, Italy, and Malaysia. A total of 13 representatives from these countries also participated in the event to showcase their unique development methods for the preservation of immovable cultural heritage.

Architect and urban planner Yuan Han told the Global Times that, regarding construction materials or structures, Chinese ancient architectural legacies are "significantly different from European ones." However, there is one principle agreed upon by all these time-honored countries, which is to "preserve their original and authentic essence."

"Protecting an ancient castle always entails a process of painstakingly restoring the architecture, bit by bit. To many architects, the value of an ancient building lies not in its aesthetics, but in its structure and configuration," Yuan explained.

Starting the conversation with the "difference" in China and the West's approaches, the 2023 international conference also intrigued global experts to share the contextual cultural and social values of their historical architectures.

Yuan informed the Global Times that in recent years, China has endeavored to emphasize the cultural significance of historical sites. This goal has been achieved through various programs like the "national-level famous historical and cultural cities" initiative.

By 2023, the program had designated 142 cities of historical importance. Some of these cities were once major capital sites of ancient dynasties, while others were significant economic capitals.

"The list was designed to conserve the cultural values of ancient buildings. It bodes well for their sustainable development. New opportunities like cultural tourism and international collaborations are all part of such sustainable development," Yuan remarked.

Wang Zhewen, an official with the Xi'an city wall management committee, stated that the conference is expected to promote mutual learning among those working to protect ancient walls and castles worldwide, ultimately expanding their global influence.

During the event, the 2023 International Ancient Walls and Castles Alliance launched an initiative to strengthen the conservation, heritage, and use of ancient city walls (castles). The initiative calls on members to work together towards goals such as upholding inclusiveness and coexistence, promoting exchanges and mutual learning, while also adhering to the principle of sharing resources and promoting common development.

This marks the first offline meeting held by the International Ancient Walls and Castles Alliance since its establishment in December 2020.