Removal of tube-shaped buildings arouses debate
Peking University, Apr. 12, 2011: The No. 16 to 18 tube-shaped buildings near the South Gate of Peking University are being removed to make room for teaching, research, and student activities, and the project will be finished as early as next April.
Tube-shaped buildings are particular to China. They are dorm buildings without private kitchens and bathrooms. Such buildings, which are made of black bricks in an archaistic style, are common during the era of planned economy and Soviet-style equalitarianism in the 20th century China.
The removal of these tube-shaped buildings is quite controversial and has aroused heated debate.
The university claims that the removal project has been approved of by the government. According to the General Plan for the Protection of Buildings and Cultural Relics around Weiming Lake and Yanyuan Garden Areas, the buildings such as No. 16 and No. 31, which were basically built in the 1950s, are not listed as “relics.”
The tube-shaped buildings that are to be removed (ChinaNews.com)
As Peking University is located in the buffer area of the Summer Palace, which is one of the World Cultural Heritages, it is prohibited to build blocks over the height limit in this area - currently, most are only 3- to 5- floors in height.
However, with the expansion of Peking University’s internal institutions and the increasing number of the students, faculty, and staff, the sites for buildings are in scarcity.
Over 78% of the undergraduate students living in the old dorm buildings complained about their room's narrowness, according to a student-initiated research proposal. However, the hidden hazards including fire risks were more serious.
"Reconstructing the old buildings in batches is a necessary choice," the report suggested.
Earlier this week, a student complained that one of the few areas for extracurricular activities were shut due to reparation and maintenance. The Department of Student Associations (STWT) of the PKU Student Extracurricular Activities Guidance Center responded that the issue will be solved within this week.
That is just a recent example. In order to make full use of the space taken up by those tube-shape buildings, the university will convert them into buildings for teaching, research, and student activities, according to the plan.
The student activities center will be finished before May 2012 in celebrating the 114th anniversary of PKU, the STWT notice read.
In response to the decision of Peking University, an alumnus Feng Yongfeng appealed to reserving these tube-shaped buildings to keep the “classic atmosphere” around PKU.
The buildings were designed by Tao Zongzhen, a famous architect in China, and they are later recognized as architectures conveying “socialism in content and nationalism in format.” What’s more, they are also modern interpretation for classic Chinese architectures to some extent, according to Feng.
“Peking University doesn’t need to build tall buildings now. Considering the function of a university, the main function of PKU is education, other functions like accommodation and administration are marginal ones,” Feng added. “A new tall building is not a must; the university can also rent an outside building for other purposes. The decision must be made overtly to the entire alumni because only in this way can it be reasonable enough.”
At the “PKUdevelopment” Board of BDWM, official bulletin board service of PKU, opinions on Alumnus Feng’s appeal was varied.
"If no change is tolerated, how can the learning environment and facilities be improved for our junior fellow students?” A student named “goahead” commented.
“Those ‘alumni’ never cared about current student associations and their activities; if the appellants are really able, they’d better contribute to resolving the shortage of space on campus,” wrote “manzhouzhe.”
In contrast to a complaint about the living conditions in the tube-shaped dorms for doctoral candidates, a student named “keohl” answered back: “The new buildings, however, are muffled and stuffy; I personally prefer the older one.”
Written by: Duan Ranjia
Edited by: Jacques
Source: The Beijing News