laying siege to the villages: xixiang and fuyong

A five-part essay, “Laying Siege to the Villages” has been published online at Open Democracy. Here’s part four, which discusses informal urbanization beyond the Second Line (erxian). 4. Informal Urbanization in the Outer Districts: National Highway 107 Shenzhen township and village enterprises (TVEs) in the outer districts (formerly New Bao’an County) were quick to take advantage of […]

laying siege to the villages: lessons from shenzhen

An essay written for Open Democracy is now online. Here’s the introduction. Over the next few days, I will put up the sections on Nantou, Luohu-Dongmen, Xixiang, and Baishizhou. Laying Siege to the Villages: Informal Urbanization in Shenzhen Although Shenzhen is famous for its “urban villages” or “villages in the city” (城中村 chengzhongcun), nevertheless, in […]

czc entr’acte

The entr’acte between a thriving urban village and its gentrification into mall-burbia occurs as developers scramble to get the last hold outs to sign compensation packages. To ensure that noone moves into buildings that have already been acquired by the developer, windows and doors are often cemented over and 拆 the character for “raze” is […]

the difficulty of representing shenzhen’s urban “villages”

Talking about Shenzhen’s urban villages is difficult because legally they are not villages, but “communities (社区)” that have been integrated into the urban state apparatus. Moreover, depending on their location, these neighborhoods have different social functions — slums, gateway communities, and affordable housing for both the working poor and recent college graduates. Mark Leung‘s photo […]

egalitarian architecture

One of the more interesting architectural continuities between Maoist Tangtou and Handshake Baishizhou is the ideology of egalitarianism (平均主义). When Tangtou villagers first came to Baishizhou in 1959, they gave up their rural status and became members of the Shahe Farm (沙河农场). As members of the Farm, their hukou status was “non-rural (非农)”. This meant that […]

return to [human] nature: nostalgia at and around shenzhen university

Yesterday, I participated in an organizational meeting for a public talk on Shenzhen University. The meeting was held at the Qinghua Park (清华苑), the design firm headed by Luo Zhengqi former SZU president and members of the original SZU design team that left the University when he did (in post June 4th restructuring). The planning […]

蛇口荔园路 — fraying urban fabric in Old Shekou

A shaded, two-lane boulevard that borders Sihai Park, Liyuan Road (荔园路) retains the intimate spatial layout that characterized Old Shekou urban planning. Indeed, the scale of planning suggests the contours of the utopian society that Yuan Geng and his supporters hoped to build — residential, working, and leisure spaces all within walking distance to each […]

Sexing the Greed, or How We’ve Gone from “Marrying Shenzhen” to “Can a Woman Get Married in Shenzhen?”

Surfing 天涯深圳, I came across a brief post by an author who claimed that her friends had urged her to leave the city because “A woman can’t marry in Shenzhen. The most desperate are those who’ve been here form more than two years. There are more and more leftover women in Shenzhen and it’s a big […]

Whatever happened to knowledge as, well, knowledge?

Robin Peckam of Saamlung directed my attention to a recent article, The 20-Kilometer University: Knowledge as Infrastructure. The article presents Urbanus’ proposal to turn the 20 km corridor from Luohu to Shenzhen University into an open university campus, with university functions distributed throughout the city. The design aims to create an unconventional civic center in […]

qinghu – end of the line [du jour]

Walked around the qinghu station, which for the moment, is the last station on the longhua line. in its underdevelopment, the area reminds us that Shenzhen’s “villages in the city (城中村)” began as “new villages (新村)”, as locals took advantage of their land, proximity to Hong Kong, and cheap labor to jump into global chains […]