Across China: Chinese craftsmen revive century-old British heritage building

CHONGQING, April 14 (Xinhua) -- A three-floor western building covered by traditional Chinese roof ridges glimmers on the south bank of Yangtze River in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality.

Built in 1896 by British businessman Archibald John Little, the structure once operated as a renowned foreign firm in Chongqing. Chinese craftsmen recently completed its restoration and added some Chinese elements.

The story of building dates back to when the adventurous Brit embarked on a risky voyage through the Three Gorges to Chongqing. Upon arrival, he started production and trade businesses and a transportation company in the city.

Little spoke Chinese and was well versed in China's culture. He played an important role in promoting commercial and cultural exchanges between China and the West more than 100 years ago.

The old site of the foreign firm has been listed as cultural relic under municipal protection by Chongqing. In October 2020, the local government decided to restore the site to refresh the century-old structure.

Specialists from across the country came together to work on the project. With meticulous designs and hundreds of restoration trials, craftsmen have been able to restore nearly 100 different elements of the 800-square-meter building.

The limestone sculpture of a Chinese cabbage at the building's entrance required an extra level of diligence and care.

Eighty-year-old craftsman Pan Youyu led a team to reproduce the cabbage based on its original appearance. The final art piece, which took one month and a half to complete, reflects the integration of Chinese and western decoration styles.

Yang Xisheng, a local artist almost 80 years old and member of the China Artists Association, lives on the same block as the building. His emotional attachment to building prompted him to join the team tasked with designing the color of the building's exterior.

He painted the main color of the building's exterior based on his own memories, striving to restore the original color to the best of his ability.

"The combination of Chinese and western elements embedded in the architecture is very distinctive, and the restoration team has made great efforts," said Zhong Xiaoxi, chairman of Chongqing Yudi Vision Culture Industry Co., Ltd., which undertook the restoration project.

With the building successfully repaired, the local government plans to develop it into a history museum.

Editor: Yu Huichen
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