Consultant, Shaxi Rehabilitation Project
Visiting Assistant Professor, Division of Architectural Conservation Programmes, HKU
M.Sc. (Conservation), 2006
China has had a tumultuous history – and its built heritage has often suffered as a result. After graduating from the University of Hong Kong’s architectural conservation programme in 2006, Huang Yinwu reached a new level in his practice 3 years after he joined the Shaxi Rehabilitation Project, a joint initiative between Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich and the government of Jianchuan County in Yunnan. The project set out to preserve the built and natural heritage of the Shaxi Valley, a point on the historic Tea and Horse Caravan Trail between Yunnan and Tibet.
Like many parts of China, the valley’s heritage was threatened by development; in 2001, Shaxi Market Place was added to the World Monuments Watch List of endangered sites. More than preserving heritage, though, the Shaxi project aimed to become a model of sustainable conservation that could be used in other areas along the Tea and Horse Caravan Trail. In order to achieve that, the project began with research into all of the valley’s different natural and architectural components. Next, an independent, locally-run Preservation and Development Bureau was established to manage the conservation project’s implementation.
Today, a new expressway has opened between Dali and Shaxi, cutting travel time to 90 minutes, which could open the tourist floodgates. Thanks to the conservation plan, however, the valley is now capable of handling new developments in a sustainable way that respects the area’s history and heritage.