formalizing boundaries within the city

One of the results of grid management (see Covid Among Us for details) has been the hardening of the city’s informal boundaries. However, this process has been ongoing for several decades in part via the imposition of a second traffic grid on top of the original traffic grid. In practice, this has meant re-purposing earlier, narrow roads as the internal roads of a cordoned off housing estates 小区 and laying a wider, more extensive network around the newly isolated gated community. In other words, what was initially planned as an open city, was incrementally partitioned and closed off even before grid management came online. In some sense, 2022 zero-Covid protocols merely accelerated a process that was already underway. Once you understand the logic of how the traffic grid was re-inscribed, its possible to see how boundaries were hardened through urban expansion.

Of course, the logic of creating living areas with fixed and therefore enforceable entries and exits has been most extreme in and around urban villages, where the openness of these neighborhoods not only promoted vibrant street cultures, but also preserved pre-2000 “Special Zone” values.

2 thoughts on “formalizing boundaries within the city

  1. Hello Mary Ann. Thanks for the great article. I thought that starting more than a decade ago there is / was a policy that ban(ned) fences around compounds, allowing citizens to walk through residential estates and to enjoy the green?

    Lately concening news keep coming out from Xixiang, that west of the Xixiang River including Dragon Ball Road and Pedestrian Street – the heart of the Xixiang Old Town – are to be demolished because of construction of so called green belt. Do you have any news on that? If it is true, is there anything we could do to stall the procedure? The omnipresent red “demolish” signs are very troubling. I am worried.

    • hi sice! good to hear from you. building fences was officially banned, but not enforced? i don’t really know what’s happening in xixiang, but the whole area is now part of qianhai and so being upgraded… so to speak.

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