Photo of the Week | 28.09.09 | Hutongs

Posted by on Sep 28, 2009 in Editorial Photography | No Comments

CHINA. Beijing. A young girl plays in the destroyed remains of hutongs (traditional homes) in central Beijing near Tiananmen Square. The hutongs are being destroyed to make way for new developments aimed at modernising the city for the 2008 Olympic Games. 2006.

CHINA. Beijing. A young girl plays in the destroyed remains of hutongs (traditional homes) in central Beijing near Tiananmen Square. The hutongs are being destroyed to make way for new developments aimed at modernising the city for the 2008 Olympic Games. 2006.

This week’s ‘Photo of the Week’ was taken in 2006 as part of a story that I did on the destruction of the ‘hutongs’ of central Beijing. For those of you who aren’t aware, the hutongs are a maze-like series of homes and dwellings that used to dominate central Beijing. I say used to because many of them were destroyed in the run-up to the Olympic Games as the city strived to modernise in anticipation of all the visiting eyes that would be looking upon the city.

Whilst the hutongs were arguably a backwards way of living and inefficiently used space, they represented an relatively unchanged age of Beijing that dated back hundreds of years, even as far back as when the Mongolians ruled the capital. Controversy arose also during the destruction of the hutongs as reports emerged of forced evictions and residents not being given adequate compensation.

During my first trip to Beijing in 2005 (sponsored by a grant I received after completing my internship at Magnum Photos) and during 2006, I documented the destruction that had been taking place in the center of the city. You can view more of the images here, at the website OpenDemocracy.net.

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