Ten years after building an arts studio near Beijing’s 798 Art Zone in 2007, artist Huang Rui was notified by the Chinese government that his work space will be demolished, Michael Young of ArtAsiaPacific reports. The contemporary artist and cofounder of the Stars art group suspects that the city is clearing land to plant billions of trees, which was a campaign promise from Chinese president Xi Jinping.
An area north of Huang’s studio has already been converted into new green space, which is meant to combat air pollution. Toward the south, several warehouses have been knocked down over the past few weeks. The artist admits that his studio was constructed illegally and that he has been informed by officials that it must go, but no formal action was taken.
“I have written to the local government several times, suggesting that rather than demolish the building, it could be turned into some form of cultural center,” Huang said. “Or also a form of heritage building, an example of a modern courtyard house. This is just one idea that might just save the building. But they have not replied.”
According to Neville Mars, of Mars Architects in Shanghai, the firm that designed the structure, the building’s history should be a reason to save it. The studio was constructed with bricks from Qing- and Ming-dynasty hutongs that were destroyed when the country was preparing to host the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Huang also incorporated bricks from his childhood home.