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Historical architecture, cultural charm embolden city's identity

By Yuan Shenggao | China Daily | Updated: 2020-07-31

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A plane painted with patterns characterizing the Hangzhou Asian Games lands at Xiaoshan International Airport in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province on June 15. CFP

Historical and cultural legacies comprise an indispensable part of urban aesthetics, especially in cities with long histories and profound culture.

For a city, aesthetics is often related to its attractiveness, in particular the combined effects of various aspects such as the natural and architectural landscapes, the layout of public facilities, the main colors of its public spaces and the etiquette of people living there.

These developments, especially the cultural genes, are not achieved within a short time. Instead, they are closely connected with a city's history.

Hangzhou, capital of East China's Zhejiang province, has a history of more than 2,000 years and is home to three UNESCO cultural heritage sites: West Lake, the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal and the Archaeological Ruins of Liangzhu City.

Among them, Liangzhu is recognized as bearing testimony to the existence of at least 5,000 years of Chinese civilization.

The historical and cultural imprints that were formed over the past two millennia have presented the distinctive temperament of Hangzhou and its people: classic, poetic, elegant and tender.

Song Jianming, a professor at the China Academy of Art who is adept at using colors for city aesthetics, is an active participant in the color planning of many projects in Hangzhou, such as the East Hangzhou Railway Station and the Olympic Sports Center.

In 2005 and 2006, Song led a team to walk around the city and take nearly 30,000 photos of buildings and streets in Hangzhou. Based on the investigation, Hangzhou made a plan of colors in urban areas.

Song concluded that the colors for Hangzhou should be light, just like an ink painting.

In his eyes, the culture and traditions that formed in Hangzhou have been rooted in every aspect of the city.

"People in Hangzhou think highly of education on culture and aesthetics, which gradually endows the city with a kind of romance," said the professor, who is also in charge of the visual designs for the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou 2022.

As the host city of the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou 2022 and the 4th Asian Para Games Hangzhou 2022, Hangzhou is integrating its poetic temperament into the organization of the continental sports event and also the creation of the Hangzhou Asian Games aesthetics.

Xu Deqing, director of the Press &Public Relations Department of the Hangzhou Asian Games Organising Committee, wrote in an article in early June in Hangzhou Daily that the civilized scenes and people in today's Hangzhou are a result of the deep-rooted civilization that has been bred in the city.

When designing visual products for the Games, historical and cultural elements, which partly indicate the city's aesthetics, cannot be ignored and are always an important source of inspiration to showcase Hangzhou features.

The mascots for the Games-three robots representing the UNESCO cultural heritage sites in the city, are embodiments of the most representative culture of Hangzhou with ancient patterns and symbolic colors. Tides Surging, the emblem for the event in the shape of a fan, implies the lingering charm of Jiangnan, the region south of the Yangtze River. The design inspiration for the Hangzhou Asian Games is from the aesthetics of Hangzhou and in return, it is enriching the content of the urban aesthetics of the city.

Visual designs for the Games, including the emblem and the mascots, have been applied in the landscapes in Hangzhou, as well as the traditional products here, such as silk, tea, porcelain, fans and umbrellas.

According to Xu, the aesthetics of the Hangzhou Asian Games, having been penetrating into the daily lives of people in the city, will help shorten the distance between the public and the event, and let the beauty of the Games better soak into people's hearts. Hangzhou hopes to leave a cultural legacy to descendants by organizing the Games. As a historic event, the Hangzhou Asian Games, being organized in a Hangzhou way, will be part of the city's history and is expected to add extra colors to its profound culture.

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