Tang Da Ming Gong—Urban Heritage Park and Palace Preservation

Xi'an - China

2008-2009

The imperial city of Xi'an was the capital of several dynasties in China. The largest city in the world with population of 1 million inhabitants for several centuries.  The Silk Road to the west was initiated from Xi'an. The Tang Dynasty emperors established their palace to the north of the city wall - from where they ruled China. The palace itself was indeed a vast city of a colossal dimensions 1.5X2.5 km -  the embodiment of Tang Dynasty glory. After the decline of the Dynasty, the palace was destroyed and neglected. New neighborhoods and factories were built on top of its ruins in the twentieth century.

Large archeological excavations were done in the palace for 50 years during the second half of the last century. The glory of the Tang Dynasty stirred the idea to revive the heritage of the palace, and by doing so to contribute to the environment, and quality of life of modern and fast-expanding Xi'an.

International invitation architectural design competition was organized and our scheme received the highest prize. The drawings and visual documents present the 3 stages of the development of the project:

a. The international competition entry.

b. Our detailed design for the central area of the palace.

c. Actual partial reconstruction of gates, walls, palaces and park - as actually built by between 2009-2011.  (Detailed design work was done by Chinese architects).

The process of reviving cultural heritage -  as experienced in the Daming Palace in Xi'an leads us to several conclusions:

1. Although it is impossible, practically and ethically to fully reconstruct ancient monuments -

 partial reconstruction by modern means is a powerful methodological tool to present and express cultural values within modern context.

2. Revived cultural values and their renewed presence in the city contribute immensely to the quality of urban life.

3. The composite image of the city is a result of the layers of significant periods of its history. The presence of history is expressed "vertically" and "horizontally". The synthesis of past layer into modern city structure is a crucial component of its future success.

This project was prepared with Arch. Giora Solar.