[Datong]City Wall Demolition and Restoration 1: Comparision of General City Planning within Different Time Period

This narrative serves as the introduction part of Datong city wall demolition and restoration series.

The anicent city wall of Datong is famous for its history, duration as well as relatively complete overall preservation. Its construction history can be divided into seversal time period including Wei, LiaoJin as well as MingQing dynasty. The main body of the existing city wall belongs to the Ming Dynasty.

In 1937, the Japanese army occupied Datong City, and they planned the city in their own way. In their planning, the ancient city of Datong was very well protected. They took the northwest corner of the ancient city as the center of the city, and , at the same time, in the east, south, west, and north areas of the city, a city in the city was made for convenience. A large amount of open space was reserved in the southeast to suit the  continued growth of the population. The planning at that time was very scientific and reasonable, and it is not outdated until more than 70 years later.

After the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, two editions of  Datong’s general city planning were made again in 1954 and 1984. As in different time period government has different development center of gravity, city wall perservation was being neglacted.

1.1954 general city planning 


(image1:retrived from  https://wenku.baidu.com/view/252c40604b73f242336c5f9c.html)

At that time period, Datong was treated as the perfect city to develope heavy industry due to its sufficent coal mining resources. Under the” production  first, then life” propaganda, the old city wall somehow acts as a burden in  some city developers’ eyes. The city layout is that: starting from the ancient  city as the center urban development, the radioactive expansion happened to the periphery. Instead of dissecting the city into different layouts in order to merge with the historical remains, this kind of urban growth lead to devastating destruction of the city wall as well as the ancient city layout.[1]

 2. 1984 general city planning 

  (image2:retrived from  https://wenku.baidu.com/view/252c40604b73f242336c5f9c.html)

As Datong was trying to transformed from post-industrial city to an economical and political focused city, the city planning started to include water conservation zones, tourism zones as well as forest zones. But the overall strategies for ancient city was “layer by layer, point by point” instead of perservation as as whole, and it mark the devastating rapid transformation and huge demolition of the city wall. [1]

(image3:retrived from  http://www.dt.gov.cn/dtzww/ghbzgs/201710/0c650cc7f7bd4804a12072af5b3d078e.shtml)

 3. 2008 general city planning 

Not until 2008 did the government realize the importance of perserving the ancient city wall, and it all thanks to Geng Yanbo who was the new mayor at that time. Under his lead, the ancient city wall started to have a place within the general city plan.  The city plan includes balancing the development of the major city and the sub cities, improvising old city layers and population control, new spatial structure(two rivers and three cities) as the most important one: restoring city wall.

“Let the old remain old, and turn the new into newer,” Geng Yanbo wrote in a 2010 article quoted in the Chinese newspaper Global Times. His approach of restoring ancient city wall was historical and cultural heritage perservation together with new forms of traditional appearance. This task was gigantic and extremely difficult as it invloves politial, social as well as economical issues. In the later narratives, these challenges and outcomes would be analyzed. [3]


[1]”Analysis of the spatial layout of the overall urban planning of Datong.”2014. https://wenku.baidu.com/view/252c40604b73f242336c5f9c.html

[2]Datong government.2016. “Datong general city planning”. http://www.dt.gov.cn/dtzww/ghbzgs/201710/0c650cc7f7bd4804a12072af5b3d078e.shtml

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