Located between Lianhua Mountain and the ridge of low-lying mountains that once marked the second line, Meilin interests for several reasons.
First, Meilin completes the central axis in the same way that Hong Kong does – as an historic footnote. Meilin and Hong Kong are the implicit extensions of Shenzhen’s ideologically charged central axis, which announced the SEZ’s transition from an industrial manufacturing economy to a financial service and high-tech research and development economy. However, Meilin was built for functionaries in the 80s and 90s, and realizes the scale and type of residential area to which SZ once aspired. Likewise, Hong Kong was the orientation of SEZ globalization throughout the 80s and 90s, but like Meilin, it was globalization on a different scale. Shenzhen’s post axis global aims have long since reached beyond Hong Kong.
Second, the integration of Shang Meilin and Xia Meilin New Villages is neat because handshake building scale was the scale of 80s and 90s neighborhoods. Consequently, the main aesthetic differences between the urban villages and precinct neighborhoods seems more one of style, in contrast to difference in scale between 30+ story high rise condominiums and handshake buildings, a contrast that created the impression of “villages within the city (城中村)”.
Third, Meilin is home to diverse cultural sites, which include the Dragon Mother Temple and Art de Vivre (圆筒艺术空间), an arts organization that holds shows and hosts movie events, including the screening of independent documentary filmmaker Liu Shen’s film “25 characters”. The film will be screen at 3 pm on Saturday, Dec 17.
Meilin, like other areas built throughout the 80s and 90s, reminds us that debates about what Shenzhen should become and why have not only vexed the SEZ since its inception, but also have precipitated diverse living, working, and cultural spaces. Indeed, when second generation Shenzheners, who are between 18-30+ years of age (or generations 80 and 90), wax nostalgia it is for places like Meilin and Shekou and Yuanling, where the scale of development was small city and residential ambition was to cultivate neighborhoods. Impressions above.