The hutongs of Beijing has an 800 year old history. They are now almost entirely gone. Please help us to document spread information about the last remaining, by making a photo book and a website.
Hutongs are the traditional living quarters of Beijing. They were first constructed during Kublai Khans reign back in the 13th century. However, economical development and political decisions to transform Beijing into a “modern world city”, have resulted in the destruction of over 90 percent of the hutongs in just a few decades.
Today, Beijing’s skyscrapers are closing in on the last remaining hutongs, whose citizens are often forced to leave their homes as the local government and real estate developers are siding for profit. In the 1980’s there was still about 7,000 hutongs in Beijing. The number is now about 600, and steadily decreasing.
We now aim to single out 8 of the most interesting hutongs left in Beijing, go there and perform interviews in Chinese with at least one citizen on each street. Together with the citizen’s personal story, we will also add historical facts and make a profile of each particular hutong.
Of the collected material we will make a coffee table book in full color. Apart from the 8 streets, we will do a opening chapter on the hutong’s history, complete with maps and accurate facts. There will also be an ending chapter on the future of the hutongs, as we predict it, including commentaries and interviews with people familiar with the matter.
In addition, if we reach our funding goal, we will also make a website concerning the remaining hutongs of Beijing. The site will contain information on the location and status of those hutongs, and will be updated with news about demolition or reconstruction.
Jojje Olsson is a journalist, author and photographer living in Beijing since 2007. He now lives at Langjia hutong, just by the ancient Drum- and Bell tower, constructed in the 13th century. This summer Jojje is publishing his first book via a Swedish publishing company, on the history and development of Beijing. The book is including many histories about the hutongs.
Hou Lei is a Chinese photographer, born and grew up in a Beijing hutong. When he was 6 years old his hutong was demolished against the family’s will, and they moved into an apartment building. Hou Lei’s father is running a photo shop in Beijing, in which the printings of the books, postcards and calendars will be made to a good price.
See some hutong photos by Jojje Olsson here below. For more photos, information and project updates, please visit our Facebook page.
We need your help to document the last remaining hutongs of Beijing!