piecework: replacing urban villages with chimerican dreams

So this week is going by in a raze of urban village sections (片区). It seems that given the flat out difficulty of achieving 100% sign-off on property transfer and compensation packages, government planners and their developer agents are targeting sections of urban village for urban renewal (instead of entire villages). These sections (a) border major traffic arteries and (b) have relatively simple property relations. I also heard yesterday that in Gangxia, for example, the village was subdivided into six sections and once there was 100% sign-off in a section, it went. This would in part explain the protracted raze-scape that characterized Gangxia for several years.

Monday morning, I walked Shazui to Shangsha. Urban renewal of the outer border of Shazui is well under way. Meanwhile, just across Shazui Road, urban renewal of Shangsha has begun by razing the old one-story commercial center and a strip of land abutting Binhe Expressway. Shangsha, of course neighbors Xiasha, where Kinkey (京基) is just finishing their mega-project, also along Binhe. Those familiar with the Kinkey 100 building in Luohu, remember them as the company responsible for the new urban edge between Caiwuwei and Shenzhen’s “downtown” mall complexes.

Yesterday, while walking Baishizhou, I saw the extent of razing in the north eastern section of Baishizhou, just behind the Window of the World exit C. This section used to boast the Shahe Department Store, early 80s work unit housing, and a plaza of bbq restaurants, where we first met in 2012 to talk about possible interventions. Not yet sure if this section was razed by Lvjing or not.

Point du jour is more of a note that needs a follow-up. The official logo for the Shazui redevelopment company, like that for China Merchants Real Estate, is a single, American style house. As with the massive complexes that are replacing urban villages, these logos indicate an underlying desire to achieve the American Dream on Chinese soil, even though the form is not suburbia. In turn, this compulsion to reproduce the middle class dream of kid(s), home ownership, and a car partially explains why Shenzhen parents continue to send their children to the United States.

Impressions of Shazui, below. For comparison, pictures of Shazui circa 2009, here. These pictures suggest how much unofficial upgrading has taken place in Shazui and other urban villages over the past five years or so. The “villages” ironically remain the heart of Shenzhen’s vernacular city.

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5 thoughts on “piecework: replacing urban villages with chimerican dreams

    • In the world, but not of it; taoists taking to the mountains to avoid imperial service: the moral dilemma of belonging to a state. Sigh.

      • sadly no exits available in our modern age, if you figure out a non-narcotic way to care/feel less let me know.
        here in Omaha we are living under austerity politics and without taxing the wealthy for actual public development/infrastructure the only tax-support (by way of tax-relief) is going to private developers and their self-interests, it’s not pretty (literally&figuratively) and getting worse every day.

      • I keep thinking how the ethical choice is more often than not only the long-term and sustainable, but also the joyful choice. We thrive together.

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