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Giving ancient dwelling a mix of styles

Updated: 2023-05-05 06:36 ( Xinhua )
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NANCHANG — Located in Wuyuan county, Jiangxi province, an old Huizhou-style mansion has been given a unique twist with a British garden, a cozy fireplace, and a bar counter. Despite the Western decor, the interior remains in harmony with traditional Chinese style.

The house, which boasts an exquisite cross-cultural blend of interior design styles, is owned by British citizen Edward Gawne and his wife Liao Minxin, a native of Jiangxi. In 2015, the transnational couple purchased the old mansion and decided to transform it into a bed-and-breakfast.

Scattered with historical sites and ancient buildings from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, Wuyuan has 30 traditional villages. In 2012, the county government adopted measures for their protection and development, encouraging relocation and renovation.

"There are trees, bridges, flowing water, and beautiful Huizhou-style houses. It is how I imagined traditional Chinese culture would look like," says Gawne, one of the first foreigners to adopt an old building in the county, regarded as one of the most beautiful rural settings in China.

The Qing Dynasty-era dwelling, which was over two centuries old, had fallen into disrepair. "The house was uninhabitable, and the stairs had even collapsed," Liao recalls. After nearly two years of renovation with the help of international designers and architects, their Chinese-English-style B&B started operations.

"About 90 percent of our guests are foreigners, and they can enjoy the beauty of Chinese traditional villages and learn about the culture and folk customs of Wuyuan and Jiangxi," Liao says.

The Wuyuan authorities released detailed information on its 14 derelict historical buildings last year, to find "adopters", and the local housing department examines adopters' renovation and decoration plans to protect the original style and structure of the buildings.

"Apart from protecting old architecture, the attitudes and lifestyles of people living in those buildings in the past should be also retained," says Wu Zhixuan, one of the first adopters of old buildings in the county.

Tao Kaiwei, deputy director of the county's bureau of media, culture and tourism, says that the county has introduced many measures for managing the B&B industry and arranged special funds to support the development of B&B industrial clusters in recent years. At present in Wuyuan, there are over 800 high-quality B&Bs and three traditional villages with over 100 old buildings that are helping develop this sector. The boom in B&B construction has provided job opportunities for more than 20,000 people and promoted the local tourism industry.

"We plan to integrate and utilize resources to explore new paths for the vitalization of traditional villages and ancient buildings," Tao says.

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