Qilou, also known as the arcade houses, represents Hainan's historic migration which dates back several centuries.
It's also a sign of the vast amounts of trade that took place here along the Maritime Silk Road.
Throughout the centuries, Hainan has been a key transit point for international exchanges.
These arcade houses have also benefited both artistically and commercially from a diverse immigration culture.
They have formed a stylish fusion of Asian and European architecture, while also being influenced by Indian and Middle Eastern designs, having been open to foreign trade starting in the mid-19th century.
Shaded corridors of these buildings were first designed to shelter residents and shops from the scorching tropical heat.
Qilou area in need of restoration.
In the heart of Haikou lies the largest block of Qilou in China.
Qilou Old Street has been converted into a pedestrian zone, after the restoration of the district as part of the government's “civilized city” campaign which aims to create a cleaner, and more livable city.
This refurbished area remains a vibrant business hub, whilst also offering a taste of Haikou’s life to tourists.
Some Hong Kong students who were visiting on a school trip told us that they learned how Hainan authorities took care of the historical buildings.
“Not like in Hong Kong that they just destroy it and build brand new, taller, more fashionable and more modern buildings”, said one of the students.
Their teacher said the style of architecture reminded him of the history that lay behind it, which was also something he wanted the children to learn about.
Qilou Old Street in Haikou.
But renovation and preservation will be an on-going challenge. Surrounding neighborhoods just a stone's throw away retain traces of the old days. Residents still lead a buzzing, traditional lifestyle amid the exotic arcade houses but creaky infrastructure and chaotic traffic.
Jurenfang community in Haikou.
The 300-year-old Jurenfang community in downtown Haikou, which used to suffer from the same problems, has found out the way to renovate old residential areas, while also improving locals’ standard of living.
Xie Ronghua, director of Jurenfang neighborhood committee, told us that rough alley streets had been repaved; buildings had been repaired according to the old style; and more greenery had been planted due to the government's efforts. They had also solved parking violations to build more sports facilities and even a basketball court for residents.
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