So, I wrote Heart of Shenzhen: The Movement to Preserve ‘Ancient’ Hubei Village. It was published in The New Companion to Urban Design, an (embarrassingly expensive) anthology, edited by Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris & Tridib Banerjee. The paper tracks the rise of public intellectuals in Shenzhen as well as growing identification with the city’s cultural geographies.
Images of the recently demolished area of New Hubei Village, including Luohu Culture Park, which used to be one of my favorite downtown sites. For those who have following the resistance to the demolition of “Ancient Hubei Village,” the demolitions have incited architects, urban planners, and public intellectuals to submit detailed counterproposals and cultural events to protect the area. These demolitions have risked destroying the older settlement. In the pictures you can see the section of Hubei New Village that is still standing, the blue steel roofs of Hubei ancient village, and and the surrounding skyscrapers of Luohu.
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.”
So Hubei and Fuyong, two of Shenzhen’s “ancient” villages.
It’s been a long time coming. Or not. Roughly a decade after Shenzhen targeted urban villages as “dirty, chaotic, and substandard” and less than five years after Gangxia changed how we thought about compensation, the official Shenzhen press has indicated its time for the city to change how it thinks about urban villages. Continue reading
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
Those of you who have been following Shenzhen media are aware that Hubei Ancient Village (湖贝古村) has become a touchstone in debates about historic preservation, pubic participation in establishing urban planning values and goals, and the place of “life (生活)” in high-end rent districts.
Students of Hong Kong artist, Momo Leung Meiping created a series of interventions in Old Hubei Village. Projects included making pillows out of old clothing, poetry painted onto the walls, a balloon release, an exhibition of portraits, planters made out of old bricks, and a map of the area with renamed streets. We followed their tracks and discovered the joy public art can bring.
Thursday last, I walked Old Hubei Village with Chen Ting, an architectural graduate student with an interest in the landscape of Shenzhen’s state-owned industries. A walk around the train station and then through the Dongmen pedestrian street brought us across the Dongmen pedestrian overpass to the complex neighborhood where Hubei Villages Old and New abut the Luohu Culture Park, crumbling 80s factories, and 90s high-rises and one of the oldest Shenzhen food-streets eased into dusk. Impressions below: