Urban planning in Shanghai - Professor Ruan Yisan (pt 3/3)
Public awareness of conservation issues is growing in Shanghai, so Professor Ruan Yisan is now turning his attention to the surrounding rural areas. A network of rivers and canals that crisscross the land have helped the growth of small towns flourishing on the water trade.
Professor Ruan's work now has a sense of urgency, since much of the countryside has already been destroyed. Modernisation in the 1980s filled many of the traditional canal ways to make way for roads, and old buildings were torn down to be replaced by new ones. Luckily, there are still a few towns and villages that have remained untouched.
In Xinchang, Professor Ruan points out traditional motifs and styles on the old buildings. He says that these, along with story-telling and other ancient customs, are the town's greatest asset and, if preserved properly, will attract tourism.
For Professor Ruan the best kind of progress takes the past with it.