AbstractsGeography &GIS

The Lady in Red: Spirit of the Historic Alleyways in the Ancient Capital

by Fernie Lingie Lai

Institution: University of Waterloo
Year: 2015
Keywords: Beijing, Hutong, Alleyway, Observation, Place, Essence, Experience, Journey, Discovery, Heritage, Preservation, Photography, Architecture, City, Culture, Time, Development, Transformation, Old and New, In-between
Record ID: 2061692
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10012/9135


THIS is a record of a place in flux, the hutongs of Beijing. It is a patchwork where the essence of place can be experienced. It is a journey of discovery. It is a document that, in the face of terms such as heritage and preservation, reminds us of the intangible beyond. The hutongs are a series of alleyways immediately surrounding the Forbidden City. The remnants of old Beijing, they are the geographical heart and center of Beijing’s ever -expanding development. As Beijing undergoes a drastic transformation, the hutongs remain in a state of tension: between the old and the new, the large and the small, the imperial and the modern, the power and the people. The hutongs exist outside of time. They are quiet and calm amid the chaotic life of a giant city. They form a place of escape, a city within a city, a secret garden. Moving through the hutongs, a person needs to constantly navigate boundaries, mediate divides, and cross thresholds. The Lady in Red observes before thought takes form: the prelude to the formation of an idea that we cannot find time for. The Lady in Red explores encounters with the in-between. The Lady in Red grasps at the invisible threads that weave the fabric of place.