The Beijing city wall was a series of fortifications built between the early 15th century and 1553. e Inner city wall was 24 kilometers (15 mi) long and 15 meters (49 mi) high, with a thickness of 20 meters (66 mi) at ground level and 12 meters (39 mi) at the top. It had nine gates. is wall stood for nearly 530 years, but in 1965 it was removed to allow construction of the 2nd Ring Road and the Line 2, Beijing Subway. Only one part of the wall is extant, in the southeast, just south of Beijing Railway Station. e Outer city walls had a perimeter of approximately 28 kilometers (17 mi). e entire enclosure of the Inner and Outer cities formed a “凸” shape with a perimeter of nearly 60 kilometers (37 mi).
The First Inspiration and Concepts
City gates are the symbol of my hometown Beijing, and they also are a part of the memory of this city. However, the government dismantled some of them to build a new transportation system, then the younger generation will not have a chance to see the original city gates anymore, maybe only look some pictures in textbook or Internet. The government to rebuild the whole city can create a better living environment, but should they consider to save these historical landmarks as the same important thing in the urban planning?
As a fact, the disappeared city gates already became the history, but is there has any possible way to reproduce them with new technology? The answer should be yes. In January 2017, a Chinese company Baidu has released a new phone app with AR technology, which is to allow people scan QR code or texture surface to see simulated city gates on the screen.
In my concept, the computer-generated map can show various information like geographical location, the process of change, and 3D modeling of the city gates. The visual effect could combine with text and soundtrack to show the change of Beijing in the past years. The goal of this project is to reveal the memory of Beijing and remind people do not forget the history in this digital world as an educational tool.
Question and Proposal
My hometown, Beijing has changed a lot in the past 67 years. The new transportation and local business developed our lives, but they have replaced many historical architectures/ landmarks. For a citizen, these old architectures are not just about history because they are the memory of Beijing also.
Today, we only can see part of the original city gates in Beijing. With the development of the city, more and more historical architectures/landmarks became our memory forever. The images online and the figures in books are limited two-dimensional sources that we could find. At this moment, is the urban planning become the enemy of the history?
As we know, most city gates were dismantled between the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution in China. In the recent years, when people re-examine Mao’s communitarian vision, is everything correct? Can we rebuild the lost part of history?
Without the doubt, technology already occupied a lot in our daily lives. Therefore, why not make our electronic devices become an educational tool to remember the history, but not just a social or entertainment machine?
Augmented reality is a new popular technology that allows me to restore the history in a physical-public space. As the first prototype, the user can scan the geographical location on a physical Beijing map through the external webcam. Each computer-generated 3D animation of the city gates in Beijing will appear on every single targeted location. The digital printed Beijing map seems like a huge container with an “invisible history”, but it can be seeable on the screen. In the end, the technology could be a friend of the history, it depends on how can we use it.