WIT Press

Rebuilding of the imperial gardens: An examination of feudalism production within the objectives of the Chinese modernization project


Free (open access)


Volume 14 (2019), Issue 3



Page Range

217 - 228

Paper DOI



WIT Press


Weiqi Chu


The ‘Imperial Gardens,’ or the ‘Garden of Gardens,’ became known as the ‘Versailles of the East’ when it was built by the Kangxi Emperor in the 1700s. However, unfortunate events such as the Second Opium Wars destroyed much of its magnificent gardens, architecture, and art. Subsequent reconstruc- tion and conservation attempts have generated heated debates between conservationists and those who favour reconstructing the ruins. The Imperial Gardens has been challenged since the 1980s by nationalists who claim it should be modernized because it represents the oppressive feudal system that ruled ancient China. While some view it as a reminder of a painful and oppressive past, conservationists view it as an important treasure that is both historically and architecturally significant. Reconstruction often damages what remains of ruins. It is difficult to recreate the original appearance of a structure as well as use original materials, technology, etc.: it might not be possible to completely rebuild the magnificent and beautiful architecture that once graced the site. Reconstruction could be as damaging as complete destruction, and replacement and alteration employed would be false. In the end there is beauty, life, and truth in age. This paper discusses the importance of architecture that is rich with his- torical purpose. The Imperial Gardens is a treasure whose ruins should be protected and respected as a critical and legitimate Chinese historical monument. The Imperial Gardens has value, both historically and architecturally, and deserves to be preserved--not restored. Reconstruction would distort its value and status as a monument.


architectural, debate, historical, heritage, monument, reconstruction, restoration, value.