Theses (Historic Preservation)

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Suggested Citation:

Zhu, Xiaojuan (2013). Evaluation and Recommendations for Preservation Practices in Historic Districts in China: The Case of Dashilan Area, Beijing. (Masters Thesis). University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.


Driven by economic and social pressures, large-scale urban renewal movements have taken place in China since 1970s. Many of these projects were carried out in a radical way, ignorant of history, culture and existing physical fabric. Dashilan Area in Beijing is a typical example. In the name of historic preservation, renewal projects occurred in 2003. Although there were two historic districts designated in the area and the master plan required different levels of tolerance of change, the reality demonstrated its failure to accomplish the scheme. Random demolition and pseudo-historic reconstructions occurred, which not only eliminated some of the character-defining elements but also partially destroyed the historic fabric of the area.

The thesis focuses on the renewal practices completed in a sub-area, namely Block C, within the Dashilan Historic District. The Advantages and disadvantages of these practices are analyzed and urban design guidelines are established for this Block. Historic elements of these jade shops and Baroque-style buildings draw out physical features and urban qualities that should be maintained in Block C, which formed the philosophy to create design guidelines at the end. The overall approach can be applied to the whole Dashilan Area as well as other historic areas in China.


urban renewal, historic district, pseudo-classic, demolition, design guidelines



Date Posted: 25 February 2014