Connecting Asian Heritage Conservation to the Idea of Performative Regionalism: A Case of Community-Enhancing Design Interventions in the Historical Art District of Liulichang Beijing


  • Diana Thamrin Petra Christian University



Community building, Design Interventions, Asian Heritage Conservation, Performative Regionalism


The active and sometimes ruthless modernisation in Asia has triggered an urgent need to secure the protection and continuation of its rich heritage and diverse regional attributes. However, as in the case of China, the Asian perspective of conservation is different from the West in terms of the nature or ways of design interventions produced and its purposes. This phenomenon has frequently triggered criticisms from heritage conservation professionals. Hence, the objective of this paper is to explore the interventions done on Asian heritage sites, taking the Liulichang Art District in Beijing as the case study, and analyze the positive influence they have brought. The paper starts by distinguishing the Asian concept and values of authenticity in conservation that differ from the West and how these principles have been applied in Liulichang, a famous ancient street known for the selling and practice of classical Chinese arts, mostly for Chinese painting. Using the phenomenological method of analysis, the paper further elaborates on the importance of community building in learning and appreciating the art of Chinese painting and discusses the positive impact made by the design interventions in Liulichang, particularly in terms of community engagement and creation of novel ways to accommodate traditional cultural practices of Chinese painting. Results reflect that the Asian perspective of conservation do not always follow the principle of minimum intervention favoured by the West, but how contemporary interventions could be merged into the heritage site to revive regional communities and cultural activities, connecting Asian architectural conservation with the design approach coined by Barbara Allen (2005) as Performative Regionalism, hence developing the idea and practice of this approach as a result of the discussion. Rather than merely following textual or scientific procedures like in the West, this approach requires a more experiential way of identifying with the regional qualities of a historical place through humanistic and participatory ways of interventions. Consequently, people can connect themselves with their cultural community, practice their culture with a much deeper and novel experience as well as communicate their unique cultural values to the contemporary society even in the face of globalization. 

Author Biography

  • Diana Thamrin, Petra Christian University
    Interior Design Department, Faculty of Art and Design, Petra Christian University


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