Preserving the Charm of Beijing's Hutongs
In and around the Gulou district of China’s development-hungry capital, an enclave of hutongs—alleys formed by walls of traditional courtyard residences—has managed to dodge the wrecking ball. Determined to preserve the charm (and avoid the fate of hutongs in nearby Nanluoguxiang, now overrun with souvenir shops), entrepreneurs have moved deeper into these narrow streets. French-owned Wuhao showcases one-off furniture and accessories by emerging talents. At Good Design Institute, everyday objects get a twist, such as lampshades made of bed slats. Serk stocks carbon-fiber bikes—and doubles as a bar serving Belgian beer. For a more local tipple, head to Mai (40 Beiluoguxiang, Dongcheng), known for its craft cocktails.