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Thursday, November 21, 2019 - 19:30

Restoring Beijing’s heritage – the story of The Temple

Juan van Wassenhove

Istituto di Cultura Italiano, Embassy of Italy
Sanlitun Dong Er Jie no. 2 Chaoyang District

朝阳区 三里屯东二街2号 意大利大使馆 文化中心

We are thrilled to announce a talk from co-founder of Temple Dongjingyuan, Juan van Wassenhove, on restoring some of Beijing’s most iconic architecture.

Juan van Wassenhove first moved to China in his mid-20s with a corporate job. Many years later, he co-founded The Temple Dongjingyuan in the heart of Beijing.

The Temple brought together three very different friends, each with a special interest in renovating the 600-year-old Zhizhusi temple or “Temple of Wisdom”. This was in the late 2000s, when modernization was China’s driving force, where old was considered unattractive and new was glamorous. Yet van Wassenhove and his co-founders embarked on the daunting task of reclaiming a part of Beijing's history and cultural heritage by renovating the old buddhist temple to its former glory.

By re-using the temple’s original materials and changing as little as necessary, the building now stands closer than ever to what it once was. In 2012, the restoration received the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Award for Cultural Heritage Conservation and it’s considered one of the best examples of heritage conservation in Asia.

Tonight, Juan will run us through the exciting and challenging moments of his thrilling journey in China, from the fire-damaged piles of rubble in 2007 to the temple’s rebirth from the ashes. A journey that brought Juan to the discovery of historical heritage, its protection, preservation and its empowerment, which, when united with innovation, bring about new forms of public art.


Juan van Wassenhove

Juan van Wassenhove, originally from Belgium, has been living in Hong Kong and Mainland China for over 20 years. Juan was a banker with JPMorgan for many years but has always been passionate about art and architecture. He currently lives in Beijing, and is widely known as co-founder of Temple DJY, home to TRB Hutong which is owned by Ignace Lecleir and recently voted as 2019 Travelers' Choice Best Fine Dining Restaurant in the world. 


We would like to remind you that it is necessary to register before each event by writing to info [at] (info [at]

Registration will be closed when we reach the venue’s maximum capacity. The very latest registration is midday (12.00pm) on Thursday 21 November. We cannot accept RSVPs after this time.

BIS events are open to foreign passport holders only, please remember to bring your passport.

Reservations are valid only upon receipt of a confirmation email from BIS.

All BIS events are off-the-record. Photography, filming and recording are not permitted.

Non-members welcome for a single lecture fee of RMB 60; students with valid ID RMB 30. 

Membership desk open 7:00 pm for 7:30 pm lecture.