Location | Datong, Shanxi province, China

The original city wall in Datong was built in 1372. It was 14 meters high, had 4 main gates, 4 turrets and 46 watch towers. The ancient city used to be one of the nine military towns along the Great Wall of China. The industrialisation however damaged or destroyed some of its old buildings and thus its history. If planners and developers in Datong had been more sensitive and respected its history, then Datong would perhaps still be as beautiful today.

Now, however, the municipality has initiated a restoration plan which has been going on for more several years. The plan has the intention of restoring the city walls similar to how it looked like in its glorious years. Moreover, Datong’s municipal government have started demolishing newer buildings in favor of replicating older ones. The city will thus shift its focus towards a historical tourism.

The formerly disordered urban planning in the city was an important fight for an upcoming Chinese historical revivalist movement. Supporters of urban regeneration have praised the movement for protecting the city’s traditional culture, giving the city a face-lift, and improving the environment and air quality. Critics, however, say that the movement is a waste of money and labor because they claim the restored buildings don’t live up to their former glory, and that the municipal government has failed to properly compensate and relocate displaced residents.