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KFC Restaurant in a Traditional Chinese Style House post image

KFC Restaurant in a Traditional Chinese Style House

This doesn’t look like the ordinary KFC.

China has the interesting distinction of being a severely ancient civilization where it is often difficult to see any physical semblance of history — outside of tourist sites. You can walk through many 2,000+ year old cities here and have to strain to see anything over a few decades old. China’s old architecture has been getting leveled en masse, as the country wipes the slates of their city-scapes clean, to be redrawn again from scratch — over and over again. The old is being replaced with the new and the new replaced by the newer in a cycle round of destruction and creation.

The scale at which this truly ancient country’s physical cultural heritage has been removed is severe, it is not yet absolute. There are still patches of old neighborhoods left, there are still thousands of ancient villages, and every now and then you come across an antique structure in the middle of a city that displays the region’s traditional architecture. These enclaves of the old now often sit conspicuously between high-rises, down narrow alleyways, or lining old canals that everyone has either forgotten about or is on some local government’s to-do list.

Though while at the brink of losing their architectural heritage a reactionary jolt has been triggered through the country. Apparently, a large portion of the public has realized that they like the looks of that old shit after all — or at least have recognized that the same off white cube replicated a million times over and over may not be the most attractive way to outfit a city. Surviving traditional style buildings in otherwise trendy or commercially viable parts of cities are now sometimes being renovated and modernized, and historic preservation is an ever growing concept. Value and scarcity often have a symbiotic relationship.

Though where the old architecture has already been wiped away, developers are now just rebuilding it. Thousands of modern “old China style” buildings and hundreds of full scale anachronistic neighborhoods are being created around the country — sometimes on the ruins of genuine old communities. The equivalent would be if some city in Europe decided to build a new urban district in the style of a Renaissance fair.

One such contraption sits off a highway that runs through the center of Xiamen island. It is a pair of two traditional Minnan style structures built to house a KFC restaurant. It sits next to a large Traditional Chinese Medicine hospital in an area that has almost completely been done over with small strip shops and high-rises. Though a replica of the old houses that once covered this region, the swallow tail roofs, bright colors, and more organic contours provide some much needed visual stimulation from the stupefying seas of architectural monotony which surround it.

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Filed under: Architecture, China

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 89 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3490 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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