Hutongs of Beijing

Visual ethnography exploring the cultural heritage and visual character of the Hutongs in Beijing.

In June 2019 I visited the historic hutongs of central Beijing. Amidst rapid socio-economic change as a result of mass migration to the city and ambitious political strategies for re-generExtreme economic growth in China has resulted in complex socio-cultural challenges for the people that live in the Hutongs. They are highly sought after areas for residential and commercial development, however are also crucial to Beijing’s cultural and material heritage.

Through visual ethnography and one-to-one community interviews I explored the current culture of the Hutongs. I photographed the shared spaces and community areas to identify culturally and location specific objects, colours, materials and behaviours. This photographic exploration was the foundation for my future projects, Akasa and Aesthetics of Place. It deepened my interest in deep diving into a context, engaging with a community and exploring how we might facilitate creative agency over the spaces we share in complex and evolving urban environments.