AM774 . Bruce in Beijing

Restoring but maintaining links with the past

2015-08-09 18:39:44



Elegant reading room created by Jim Spear (emily tang spear)

Interior of village house at Mutianyu (robert rmcleod)

Jim Spear and Liang Tang at Mutianyu Great Wall (robert mcleod)

Mutianyu Village (robert mcledod)

The Brickyard (robert mcleod)

Winter at Mutianyu (emily tang spear)


Jim Spear believes that older buildings can be restored into excellent properties rather than be pulled down for new construction. He is not talking of grand former palaces or even fine siheyuan  courtyards but often the ordinary homes of people. Jim has followed this idea at Mutianyu where he lives with his Chinese wife, Liang Tang. Their home was restored from a disused farmer’s cottage and his first major project in the village, The Schoolhouse, was transformed out of an actual disused school building. His most recent and most adventurous work is the ‘Brickyard’ in a stunning location with excellent views of the Great Wall winding across nearby mountain ridges.

The Brickyard has emerged from a former 1960’s glazed tile factory on which after extensive negotiations Jim and Liang were able to secure a fifty year lease. In the reconstruction much of the original brickwork has been kept although all original pieces have been extensively restored in keeping with the high quality and image of the new project.

Recently Jim was at the Courtyard Institute in Beijing talking about his work at Mutianyu and of his philosophy of maintaining links with the past in building restoration. He wants to create modern while maintaining a sense of what was there.