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Protecting the Cultural Heritage Sites of the 20th Century

When the Sydney Opera House applied for status as a world cultural heritage site in 1981, the world heritage committee rejected its application because it was only ten years old and too young to prove its historical relevance. This case triggered thought about cultural heritage of the 20th. At present, more than 30 cultural heritage sites from the 20th century have been listed as world heritage sites, but compared with the ancient cultural heritage sites, they are not very interesting.

Generally, cultural heritage sites of the 20th century include architectural achievements, artistic works, and engineering works as well as memorial sites and so on. With a history of less than 100 years, they are easily neglected as historical heritage sites.

Architectures in Dongjiaominxiang, Beijing

In the late 1950s, People’s communes flourished across the China; a total 25,000 communes were set up. But after the reform and opening up policy, people’s communes rapidly vanished from China; even museums haven’t a single tablet of people’s communes.

Numerous cultural heritage sites from the 20th century have undergone the same unfortunate destiny as people’s commune.

According to Shan Jixiang, the director of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, Beijing only had three high-rise buildings with slablike configuration: the building of labour union, the main building of Beijing Normal University and the building of ministry of fisheries. These buildings ought to be protected as symbolic buildings of the 20th century, but two of these have been demolished, making the historical heritage sites of the 20th century incomplete.

Apart from the hidden troubles caused by neglect, cultural heritage sites are facing the problem of reconstruction. Urban designers usually reconstruct buildings according to the needs of a city’s development, which unavoidably break the integrity and style of the 20th century’s architectures.

Cave dwellings in Yan'an
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