THE 76 HOUSES:
Rongda House was built by the noble Rongda family in the 1930s. The present leader of the THF Arga team, Ms Trasil-la, laid Arga on the roof of Rongda as a young girl. Rongda House, home to 17 families, was completely rehabilitated and refurbished by THF within 8 months from late 1998 to July 1999, funded by the Royal Dutch Embassy in Beijing. The tenants have since moved back, and the work has received favorable reviews both from the government and from the Barkor resident community.
Pictures taken November - December 1998 by I. Alsop:
|Inspecting the work: to the left, Jon Harrison; in hat, master builder Chimo Migmar-la||view of both storeys||adjusting an hydraulic jack||inspecting a pillar|
|l to r: John Harrison,
Chimo Migmar-la, Andre Alexander
|John Harrison||Andre Alexander, John Harrison||visitor Frances Howland records an upper-storey detail|
|view from an upper story window, showing the arga-ladies
on the roof of Tadongshar across the alleyway
From the 1999 Annual Report:
Rongda House is one of the most important sites in Oedepug alley. It was built as a rich residence, with much fine wood-carving and painted decoration. After 1960, it was subdivided into 17 apartments. Living conditions in the former ground floor stables were quite inadequate, and overcrowding caused tenants to encroach on the communal courtyard and build rooftop extensions. By the time THF started work in 1998 the timber structure required extensive replacement and realignment to correct settlement and decay. All the alterations and improvements were discussed with the tenants as work progressed. THF retained as much original fabric as possible, with new carving to match missing parts. Roofs and floors were relaid in traditional arga clay, and the reclaimed open courtyard and steps paved in stone. New sewers and water mains were installed, and the communal toilet system modernized. New electricity lines were planned and installed by THF. After completion, the house was much visited by ordinary people and officials alike. The officials approved of the work, while several tenants' groups requested THF to begin work on "their" house next. The tenants of Rongda, after almost a year of weekly meetings with THF, gave a wonderful party, which ended way past midnight with about two dozen people dancing on the Barkor.
Work on Rongda courtyard completed
Funding in total of US$29,248 was provided by the Royal Dutch Embassy Beijing in late 1998, (of which remaining $21,202 were spent during 1999).
The Dutch-Embassy-funded restoration of Rongda House was complimented by further toilet and drainage improvement, $603.