Yang Huahui is a local history enthusiast. Over the past fifteen years, he has walked the city's old streets and alleys, carefully photographing each and every historical building he encounters embodying typical Guangzhou culture and style. This is his way to record the city’s culture and preserve this architectural inheritance for future generations.
Yang Huahui (Photo: Wu Haisheng)
In the heart of old Guangzhou, there are many old buildings that reflect people's life in the past. However, with modernized urban planning, some historical buildings are facing the threat removal.
In his childhood, Yang usually rode on the back of his grandfather's bicycle around the Mansions of Xiguan Mansion and walked the granite streets with him.
Decoration of Xiguan Mansion
For Yang Huahui, protecting historical buildings is his responsibility, and he's still working hard on it. His most impressive achievement to date was helping save an old building located on the Ming City Wall in Yuexiu Park. The building was facing the threat of being removed because the City Wall had to be renovated.
City wall of Ming Dynasty in Guangzhou
When Yang Huahui heard about the plans, he tried his best to capture public interest. Eventually, the old building was preserved.
Yang said, "Every historical building has its unique value, especially that it records our history."
"Do you know exactly where Zhen Hai Lou stands in Guangzhou?" As a primary school teacher, Yang always teaches his students Guangzhou's history through various means.
Zhen Hai Lou (the red one) on Yuexiu Moutain
Mr.Yang has collected lots of pictures of cultural relics and old buildings in Guangzhou. These materials are shared in his class, which helps arouse studbet’s curiosity, making them more interested in Guangzhou's historical buildings and the stories behind them.
In 2004, Mr.Yang and his students founded a website named "hometown sentiment from overseas Chinese in Dongshan District". (Note: Dongshan used to be a municipal district of Guangzhou.)
The web page was awarded first prize by the National Center for Educational Technology, for the work of primary and secondary school students. Since then, Yang and his students have been taking the photos together, sharing historical buildings and the various kinds of stories and knowledge behind them.
In 2008, with the help of a group of like-minded friends, Mr. Yang established an education platform for teenagers called “scenery of old Canton”. The website introduces Guangzhou's buildings to the public through pictures and videos.
For Yang, preserving old buildings is a complicated project. "If we ignore these preservation issues, then it will be even harder for the next generation," said Mr.Yang.
Author: Xu Jinhui
Editors: Wing Zhang, Simon Haywood, Monica Liu, Steven Yuen