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Himalayan temple restorer scales new heights

Updated: 2023-06-08 06:30 ( China Daily )
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Xia grew up around classic architecture in Suzhou, Jiangsu province. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Fascination about Himalayan buildings and Tibetan culture had Xia embark on a new journey to Tibet in 2016.

"Ancient architecture in Tibet is not merely three-dimensional in the eyes of an architect. It's 5D and even 6D, because they have scent, sound, a sense of light and history," Xia says, adding that only when people delve into local clusters of ancient architecture can they truly communicate with these ancient buildings, including magnificent palaces and solemn temples.

"It's like exploring a mystery, so it's very interesting," he says.

He saw the Jebum-gang Lha-khang temple a perfect site to carry out his ambition of integrating Himalayan regional and modern constructions.

"It has been a center of energy for the ancient city of Lhasa and an important carrier of local Tibetan culture," Xia says.

Yet, he found many local residents knew little about the temple, including a local photographer he knows who used to study at the primary school about 50 meters away from it.

That was why Xia and his team decided from the start that the temple should be restored and made a window for both visitors and residents to better appreciate Tibetan culture and art.

Xia recently made a short film recording the ancient building renovation and put it online, with an aim of raising more public awareness of ancient buildings and their protection.

"There are still many idled historical buildings in the ancient cities of Tibet, and we want to find those of great value and help show them in the form of an art center or cultural museum," Xia says.

"This way, I hope young people can pay more attention to ancient building restoration in Tibet and more of them can join in the sector," he says.

In fact, ancient buildings like the temple in this bustling area are few and far between. More of them are hidden off the beaten track.

Therefore, Xia and his team have started to profile more than 1,000 ancient buildings in other parts of the region.

"There is a strong magnetic field here that attracts people who are interested, indicating that this place is connected to the world and always filled with a sense of freshness," Xia says.

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