So, Hubei Old Village isn’t being demolished, but it’s not being protected from the fallout of master plans and hammer drills. I walked the edges of the demolition area in and around New Hubei Village and the former Luohu Culture Park, which used to be one of my favorite public spaces downtown. Impressions of the withering practices that encroach on the “Old Special Zone, below.”
The current focus on preserving Hubei Old Village obscures just how much Special Zone history and everyday life will be demolished to make way for the new China Resources development downtown. What’s at stake are competing understandings of what makes a good life for whom and who gets to decide the form and function of the city. Continue reading
By the year 2017, Shenzhen plans to have built 95 shopping malls, totaling 17.8 million square meters. Moreover, the raze and raise juggernaut seems unstoppable, even in the face of growing support for historic preservation and public recognition of the social, cultural, and historic value of village settlements.
In October this year, the Municipality announced that China Resources (华润) will raze Hubei Village and raise another high-end mall despite the fact that Hubei was built during the Ming Dynasty between 1465 – 1487, boasting a settlement history of almost 550 years.
The “three horizontal and eight vertical roads (三纵八横)” layout of Hubei exemplifies Guangfu (广府) or Cantonese style. The village also includes an ancestral hall that was rebuilt in 1804, a village gate, well, and over 200 houses. In addition, the ancestral hall used granite, a building material rarely seen in the area.
Hubei Village was part of the original Shenzhen Market (深圳墟), which has already been extensively razed. Indeed, Hubei Village is the largest and most concentrated of historical architecture in the area. Moreover, the village also serves as cheap housing for those who work in the surrounding hotels, spas, restaurants, and malls.
The recent and loudly protested decision to raze Caiwuwei and build the KK 100 is the immediate context for ongoing calls for some kind of preservation effort.
Impressions from a recent walk in Hubei, below: