City Wall Demolition and Restoration: Analysis on Masterplan and City Planning Strategies (1954-2006)

Figure 1: Transformation of the City Wall from Ming Dynasty to 2013
Figure 1: Transformation of the City Wall from Ming Dynasty to 2013

Masterplan and Planning Strategies (1954-1972): Industrial and Mechanical City

After the Charhar Province was revoked, the Datong City was incorporated to the Shanxi Province. The very first masterplan for the Datong City started from 1954, when it was an industrial and mechanical city, that focussed on the production of coal mining, electricity, construction materials, and mechanics. During this period, the proposed area of construction land was 30.7 square kilometres, and the city population reached up to 29.8 million.

The “production first” political idea pushed Datong into an industrial-infrastructural centred city. The general planning strategy was “two axis, one heart, and surroundings”. Two axis refers to the two areas extended from the old city: south and north, west and east; one heart means the old city centre; while surroundings included the western and eastern regions stretching from the city centre. It wasn’t a very concrete and precise masterplan, where the plan basically focussed on the old city centre and its surroundings. The masterplan didn’t adopt any specific controls or measurements in relation to its spatial structures. Instead of dissecting the city into layers, the plan neglected the importance of the history and heritage preservations.

Figure 2: Datong Masterplan 1955
Figure 2: Datong Masterplan 1955


Masterplan and Planning Strategies (1984-2000): Transformation from Post-industrial to Economic and Political Focussed City

Then in 1984, as Datong transformed from post-industrial to economic and political focussed city, moving away from the city centre to the southern and eastern areas. The construction land weighted up to 56 square kilometres, with a population of 50 million people. The proposed treatment area started from the eastern parts (Wenying Lake, western Kouquan and Yunwang Channel), to the northern part (Hu Mountain), all the way to southern Huaren Province boundaries (old city, mining zones, eastern landscape zones, northern water zones, and southern suburbs).

The government come-up with layer by layer and point by point conservation approaches, other than generally preserving the city wall. Focussing on developing the southern and western parts of the old city, whereas the eastern areas of the lake as new city developmental areas, intentionally avoiding the old city. The spatial structures were: one old city, Kouquan one major and one minor parts, multi-centred structure. This masterplan formulated a “5 axis, peripheral, western southern connective extensions” comprehensive transportation network. They planned to implement water conservation zones, tourism zones, industrial and production zones and forest zones.  The government outlined graded preservation areas and featured preservation layers inside the ancient city. But still, the goals and control of these strategies were not concise and logical enough. They had given up preserving the ancient city in holistic and authentic approaches, triggered the beginning of rapid transformation and huge demolition on the city wall.

Figure 3: Datong Masterplan (1984-2000)
Figure 3: Datong Masterplan (1984-2000)


Masterplan and Planning Strategies (2006-2020): Ecological and Environmental-friendly City

During 2006, Datong City became the centre city of the ShanXi Province northern district, an important historic and cultural ancient city and energy city. This masterplan targeted 127 square kilometres of construction land and 135 million city population. The treatment area spreaded from the old city, mining zone and suburbs to the economic and technological zones, Datong county Zhoushi village town, Peijiazao town, and Dangliu village town. The plan was to develop eastern areas of the lake.

The spatial developmental pattern followed the “one major, two minor cities” fan-like composition. Again, the old city as the major area, Yudong zone and Kouquan zone as the two minor cities, resulting in a “six horizontal, one ring, twelve vertical” transportation network system. By putting emphasis on the functions of different zones, the masterplan’s economic developmental strategies were clearly improved and strengthened. It highlighted the historic and cultural aspects of the old city, reduced the significance of the heavy-industrial past, proposed a reformation to an ecological city by introducing environmental-friendly parks. However, the “layer by layer, point by point” approach wasn’t good enough to fulfil the purpose of historic city preservation, the ancient city overall environment continued to be heavily destructed. After all, this masterplan presented the government’s ignorance towards the regional significance of each zone, the singularity of production structure, unmotivated economic development, and unclear unification of city-village compositions.



  1. Analysis of the Datong Overall City Planning and Spatial Layout. (2012).
  2. Datong City Urban Planning Department (2017). Datong City Overall Planning (2006-2020).
  3. Fangyan, (2015). The History of City Wall Restoration. Qilu Magazine. Issue 1.

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