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  Chinese Way>Life

Ancient, modern under same roof

2013-11-06 15:12:54

(China Daily) By Cui Jia


Transformation project houses best of both worlds in Kashgar.

Xianu Mijit's house is an intriguing mixture of old and new.

Rebuilt and refurbished, the home in the center of the old town district of Kashgar in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region is decorated in traditional Uygur style, but also features an electronic sliding glass roof and a garage, installed at the family's request.

Although a natural gas supply has been connected, the family has retained the old fireplace, one of the original features of a house built more than 90 years ago.

"Our old house needed to be renovated sooner or later because it had become very fragile over the years," said Xianu, 49, sitting in front of the old fireplace, where the white paint has an intentionally worn look.

In June, the nurse and her doctor husband moved back to the house in Artux alley, Kumudarwazha Street, in which they were married 29 years ago.

After they moved out temporarily in 2009, the building was torn down and rebuilt as part of a pilot program to renovate Kashgar's old town.

The project was controversial, triggering concern about whether it would destroy the Uygur features of the neighborhood. The 4-sq-km area has a history of more than 2,000 years and is home to more than 126,800 people.

Funded by the central government, the project, which has a budget of more than 7 billion yuan ($1.1 billion), aims to transform the decrepit houses and render them earthquake-proof. The work began officially in 2010 and is due to be completed in 2014, benefiting more than 49,000 households.

By September, more than 85 percent of the old houses in the central area of the old town had been renovated and the residents have gradually moved back to the "new" old town to continue their traditional lives, albeit with a modern twist.

The old town area desperately required renovation.

The old town area desperately required renovation.

A man makes naan bread. Chen Tao

A man makes naan bread. Chen Tao

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