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Rebuilding the wall (2010-5-31)



                                          Rebuilding the wall

A big-budget restoration project is set to rejuvenate the ancient city wall compound in Xi'an of Shaanxi Province, with the proposal including modern elements that combine materials of the past and new technology to create a truly unique destination.

Huge LED panels with 3D effects are part of the proposed plans for the wall, modern fountains will refresh the old watercourse, photoelectric scroll paintings will be placed on each bank of the moat and gate towers will house themed museums.

The project covers renovating the city wall and its surrounding compound, including a long alley stretching from inside the wall to beyond the structure, a park, moat and outer bund.

The 12 billion yuan ($1.75 billion) project will attempt to recreate the complete defense system of Xi'an's city wall. As the former capital of 13 dynasties, the military layout once included four major entrances, but none have survived history with their complete defense systems still intact.

The plan also proposes to set up four history museums themed as the Zhou Dynasty (1046BC-221BC), Qin Dynasty (221BC-206BC), Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD) and Tang Dynasty (618-907) within the gate towers facing north, south, east and west. The museums will incorporate state-of-the-art sound and video equipment to guide visitors through the city's ancient history.

"The museum idea sounds good," retired civil servant Huang Chuan, told the Global Times. "The wall is a draw card of Xi'an. It's a perfect cultural carrier and a storyteller of the city's past, not just the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) when the wall was built, but a long history that spans the Zhou Dynasty, the flourishing Tang Dynasty and other dynasties the city has witnessed."

A highlight of the proposed billion-dollar project is the illumination of the city wall and moat with neon lights and LED panels. Relief sculptures detailing calligraphy, poems and paintings will be carved into the structures and lit up at night. The watercourse will also be widened and adorned with lit fountains.

Since the plans were released, many local residents have voiced their concerns about the project.

"The city wall is too plain to carry such a luxurious plan. Trendy as the illumination project is, I prefer the way it is. I hope the city wall after the restoration will still retain its original style," commented Qin Yong, a local resident.

"It will be a white elephant. People on the ground or on the wall can hardly see the lit-up sculptures on the bank slopes below," Zhang Kang, vice manager of Shaanxi Sunshine Beauty City Grand Theater said, as he handed in his feedback about the moat renovation to the management committee of the wall.

"The first ring road around the moat will add dust to the bank slope and how to waterproof and cool the LED panels and the lighting system is a problem still to be solved,"

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