I have this longing to believe that somehow what came before was less fragile and much less fleeting, more easily touched and grasped than is the present. The irony of this longing caught up with me in Nan’ao, where three generations of fishermen live side by side on a beach front urban village (that, yes, is scheduled for partial demolition and redevelopment). Continue reading
Guanhu (官湖) and Shayuchong (沙渔涌) Villages are within walking distance to each other along the Dapeng coastline. Guanhu is the village that has developed Jiaochangwei. A small settlement at the mouth of a river, Shayuchong is undergoing a complete renovation that is reminiscent of the horrific universidade paint-overs. Both villages are in various stages of redevelopment. And in the details I trace Shenzhen’s complicated preservation ecologies, where beauty, kitsch desires, and too much money take strange and curious form. Impressions from today’s walk, below.
For those who have been following Shenzhen’s expansion, you have noted the correspondence between the establishment of an administrative category, the announcement of an economic sector, and the full on government led reappropriation of folk investments and small scale development.
The opposition in play is the contradiction between 官方 and 民间 I’ve translated 官方 as government led because the appropriating entity is often government appointed or a state owned enterprise, but there is diversity and even discord therein, as will become apparent below. I’ve translated 民间 as folk because it captures something of the quaint and small and outdated notion of the public that seems to operate during these transitions. Moreover, the public is itself an important sphere of government led action.
Dapeng constitutes Shenzhen’s one remaining strip of relatively undeveloped coastline. It has been a site of 民间 development. The forms of folk development, for example, have included seafood restaurants in Nan Ao, and the strip of cheap inns at Jiaochangwei (较场尾). Jiaochangwei is a coastal village, as is evident from the mash-up of various generations of what are colloquially known as “farmer housing (农民房). And yes, Jiaochangwei is technically an urban village, with an emphasis on village and nature, rather than urban a la Baishizhou). Previous large scale development has been undertaken by Vanke (万科) which opened Shenzhen’s first yacht clubs far, far from the city. Or so it seemed.
In theory the Dapeng Peninsula is a conservation area, but so was the original Mangrove Park. However, in 2011 the Municipality designated Dapeng a New District (discussed earlier). Since then, there has been all sorts of investment in roads and even a national level geological museum slash park. This has been part of a movement to encourage the development of the coastal economy, including government led real estate development, which (as in Shekou) involves infrastructural transformation and privatization of the coastline.
At the moment most of these areas are only accessible by car, but an express bus, the E 11 gets ordinary folk into the area and a subway line is being built. Impressions of Jiaochangwei, below. And yes, if you decide to go, go during the week. On the weekend, there can be road delays of more than an hour, and lines for restaurants and ubiquitous BBQ joints.