houhai, impressions of.

I walked from Coastal City to Shenzhen Bay Park via Talent Park. It is a stunning venture, where it is possible to experience the best of what Shenzhen offers–futuristic architecture, sparkling coastline, and expansive skies–without having to deal with the consequences thereof–overbuilding, monopolized waterways, and pollution. Indeed, as in the city’s beautiful parks, this stretch of modern living embodies the goals, aspirations, and ideologies of reform and opening.

I’ve put up these images in order to contextualize the city’s ongoing project to upgrade its urban villages, which seems counterintuitive to folks who visit from rundown cities, especially the gray cities of northern climes (NYC and London, for example) or the aggressively underdeveloped cities of the global south. When officials, urban planners and ordinary people justify the need to demolish buildings and evict residents (拆迁), it is because even if they have not visited the Houhai section of Shenzhen Bay, nevertheless, they have seen images, development proposals, and advertisements of this promised land, which all convey and seemingly confirm Nanshan property values. This is the Shenzhen of relentless desire and unlimited possibilities, the Shenzhen of self-transformation and self-realization, where white collars gleam and high heels click elegantly; in today’s Houhai, we can see what we want to and so we do.

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