The last hutongs of Beijing

Hutongs are the traditional living quarters of Beijing, with a history of 800 years. We want to document the last hutongs, before they disappear forever.
Joe Olsson
1 Team Member

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.

You can read more about the hutongs on the web here and here, or watch this 20 minute documentary on the current state of the hutongs, made by videographers Jonah Kessel and Kit Gillet.

About us 

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!

Find This Campaign On
raised by 31 people in 1 month
72% funded
0 time left
$3,000 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on June 28, 2013
Select a Perk
  • $5USD
    Email updates

    ou will receive email updates from each of the 8 hutong streets we are visiting, complete with the background story of the particular street, and a couple of low resolution photos depicting each hutong and its residents.

    2 claimed

  • $15USD

    You will receive the email updates, and also the complete e-book to download, containing stories and high resolution photos from each of the 8 streets, plus the history of the hutongs in general. You will also get a "thank you" and your name as "sponsor" on our website.

    4 claimed

    Estimated delivery: September 2013
  • $30USD

    You receive all of the above, plus five printed 4x6 inch postcards. You can select your postcards from a range of options we will send to you, they will be signed by us and the residents depicted on them. Postal fees included.

    2 claimed

    Estimated delivery: September 2013
  • $55USD
    Book in print

    You will receive all of the above, plus the book that this project will render. Each of the 8 hutongs will be described with 3-5 pages, photo and text. you will get a "thank you" and your name as sponsor in the book. Postal fees included.

    14 claimed

    Estimated delivery: November 2013
  • $100USD

    You will receive all of the above, plus a calendar for 2014 made of our hutong photos, and 5 additional bonus black & white postcards size 4x6 inches. Postal fees included.

    4 claimed

    Estimated delivery: November 2013
  • $500USD
    Hutong dinner

    You will receive all of the above. And, if you live in or plan to go to Beijing during 2014, Hou Lei and Jojje will meet you up for a guided tour through some the hutongs in the book, and a home cooked meal in a real Beijing courtyard.

    1 claimed

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