Renovation resumes on courtyard houses in Sijing

Yang Yang
Renovation of three stone-gate courtyard houses in Sijing Town in Songjiang District restarted recently.
Yang Yang

Renovation of three stone-gate courtyard houses in Sijing Town in Songjiang District restarted recently and is keeping pace with the original schedule after a standstill caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Ni Fuxing, a carpenter from Jiangyin in neighboring Jiangsu Province, is among those working on the old wooden structures.

“I started as a carpenter apprentice slicing wood at 16 and have been in the trade for 38 years,” said Ni, who has spent years in renovating ancient structures in Jiangxi, Hubei and Guizhou provinces.

The stone-gate courtyard houses, former residences of the Ding, Jiang and Lu families, need many mortise-and-tenon joints in their renovation.

“The mortise-tenon joints, if done well, can make two pieces of wood attach to each other seamlessly,” said Ni.

The COVID-19 pandemic had delayed the renovation of the three courtyard houses, but the construction team managed to reduce the negative impact to the minimum.

“We had expected a shortage of supplies at the beginning of the pandemic and therefore prepared goods and facilities around the Chinese Lunar New Year,” said Zhou Bin, deputy general manager of Sijing Construction and Development Co.

“Most of our construction engineers are from Jiangsu Province. After the engineers and workers finished quarantine in Shanghai, we resumed operations. Now 30 percent of the renovation work has been finished and the project is estimated to be completed in October.”

The three courtyard houses, built in the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, are located in the Xiatang Scenic Area of Sijing Town.

While carrying out its renovation work, the town is also promoting a business environment featuring a culture exhibition and a fire station being built in order to safeguard the area in the future.

So far the town has finished the renovation of the old residences of Shi Liangcai, Ma Xiangbo, and the courtyard houses of the Sun, Cheng, Guan and Ma families. Future renovation will include the Wu, Shi and Chen families courtyard houses and the sewage system of the Xiatang Scenic Area.

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