Keeping up appearances in China is important. This societal ideal gives rise to a plethora of interesting, if not, to the outside world, frankly odd, scenarios. Such has been playing out all over Nanjing of late, in the renovation of the facades of older buildings.
With the warm weather finally in the air, Nanjing has been once again swarming with construction and renovation. Beijing Dong Lu, a popular area in the city, is undergoing its second makeover with the first having taken place only a year ago. Subtle changes are being made, in terms of creating a more modern theme with a design more appealing to the eye, as well as improvements to both road and drainage infrastructure.
Local media the Yangtze Evening News has chosen Beijing Dong Lu as a poster child for the makeovers that are happening all over the city, touting the decision the give a Republican era feel to the superficial improvements therein.
According to the Nanjing Daily, a total of 17 buildings along the street were renovated a year ago. That number has more than doubled as the road enters its second phase of renovation.
The Nanjing Design Branch of the Pan-China Group, which is responsible for the project design, are using this second phase as an opportunity to not only improve the appearance of the street, but to also patch up holes that were missed during the first renovation.
Speaking with the Nanjing Daily, deputy chief of the aforementioned responsible authority, Yu Zhou, said, “Now, looking back, there is still a deficiency in the pipeline treatment of facades in the first phase, which will be improved in the second phase”.
When exiting Jiuhuashan station on Metro Line 4, the results from the renovation that took place a year ago are evident. The strip mall on Beijing Dong Lu features stores and restaurants that appear modernised and upscale from the outside, but still remain unchanged on the inside.
“In China face value is very important. Construction is being done on the outside of businesses and the community but not on the inside because outward appearances are the main priority”, a Jiuhuashan resident mentioned to The Nanjinger.
Although Beijing Dong Lu is busy with construction, members of the Jiuhuashan community seem unaffected. As they ride their bikes along the roads, and local business owners sit in front of their stores socialising with one another, they also mentioned, in passing, to The Nanjinger that these renovations indeed are disrupting to their business, but that they also respect the renovations are needed and there is nothing that they can do.
“The construction is loud but we don’t have a say in what happens during this project”, said an enthusiastic Jiuhuashan business owner. “Either way, I am happy that work is being done and I think it will be a good change for the community”.
Renovation of the Jiuhuashan community area continues until 12:00 on April 18, while the entirety of the Beijing Dong Lu renovation will be completed before National Day.