SZ8X80204//The Myriad Transformations//City on the Fill: The Cost of a View

So romancing the ocean, or is it oceans of romance? At any rate, once we’ve cordoned off and sold the coastline, it seems that all we’re left with romantic sunsets, looking toward the horizon that we’ll never reach. Poetic. Deliciously melancholy, even. And I do like looking off into the sunset. It’s just that the reduction of the coastline to commodified views distresses me. I keep wondering, what about the other senses? In Shenzhen it is incredibly difficult to smell fishing nets, feel of water rippling over our toes, listen to seabirds diving for crabs, and taste a gritty ocean breeze because we have been reduced to a pair of eyes in bodies that do not move beyond high rise window sills. Continue reading

SZ8X80108//The_Myriad_Transformations//Cut and Pastiche: Another City

“Cut and Pastiche” has played with the logic of montage in order to tease out the experiences and logics that comprised the Special Zone. Montage helps us understand the process because “Shenzhen” comprises diverse elements–factories and work units, migrants and locals, tradition and IT, brackish water and containers–which were already in the world, but needed to be reorganized in order for China to achieve its goal to modernize. Quickly.

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line 11 mini encyclopedia: the nantou peninsula

Once upon a time, Nantou was the Ya’men for Xin’an County, and before that for the imperial salt monopoly. It’s currently where Shen Kong integration is being seriously re-worked.

houhai / xuefu rd

Today, I went to the Software Incubator Area and what to my wondering eyes did appear, but a landmark tried and true and watched for the past decade. It’s true and unexpected, but for years I have been documenting the land reclamation area east of Guimiao and north of Binhai (first impressions, here), and today on an errand to meet someone about the upcoming Maker Faire, I realized the road I was on–Xuefu Road–was in fact the road I had walked while documenting the emergence of New High Technology Park. Anyway, some before and after pictures:

population number games

There are three resident statuses in Shenzhen: Shenzhen hukou, long term residence permit (常住证), and illegal residents or the floating population (流动人口). In turn, these different statuses are reflected in two kinds of population statistics: the long term population (常住人口) and the administrative population (管理人口).  The long term population is divided into those residents with hukou and those with permits. The administrative population refers to the number of renters who have been registered at a local police station. In practice, the difference between the long term and administrative populations provides insight into how large the floating population is.

Here’s the rub: Cities and districts usually only release population statistics, even though the actual population is on record via individual precincts, which report their statistics to the District. In turn, reporting practices vary widely between districts, making it difficult to ascertain how many people actually live and work in a district, let alone in an urban village. Continue reading

The Value of Urban Villages

US American real estate developers chant, “location, location, location.” In Shenzhen, primary locations open for development are actually urban villages slated for old village renovation — redevelopments that involve the final transfer of village held property to the Municipality.

In a Jingbao article on the future of Nanshan District, Li Xiaogan, recently appointed Nanshan District Secretary, noted for example, “In constructing a global district and promoting urban renovation, Nanshan District will have several advantages over the next few years. First, the largest urban renovation project in Guangdong Province – Dachong Urban Village, with a total project area of 683,000 square meters; second, the urban renovation project for the five villages of Baishizhou in Shahe, which is currently being planned, also has an area of over 650,000 square meters, and is again one of the largest in the Province; third, located in the north of the District, the three Shuiyuan villages are within the water conservation and ecological conservation red lines, and are thus relatively backward, however, they are also now in the planning stage of development; forth, the old Xili Market, which we are planning to convert to an urban complex; fifth, the banks of the Shahe River, where we will take international bids to create an ecological cultural corridor, and; six, Nanshan Old City, which with everyone’s support we hope to return to its status as Shenzhen’s historical and cultural root, by resituating all residents and completely rebuilding.”

Recent impressions of Baishizhou, below:

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return of the bivalves

Yesterday, I walked around Dongjiaotou, which in days earlier served as a small port for building materials coming in from Foshan and other Delta cities. Pedestrians jumped the fence to get to the small strip of beach where several families were selling oysters. In 2007, Nanshan District removed all oyster cultivation and processing from the Houhai coastline, especially around the Seaworld area (pictures from 2003 and 2007, here).

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the second line: nantou checkpoint to zhongshan park

Walked with Emma Ma and her father, Mike along Shenzhen’s northern loop expressway (北环大道) from the Nantou Checkpoint to the northern entrance of Zhongshan Park. Our path followed the remains of the second line (二线), the boundary that once divided Shenzhen into the SEZ and New Bao’an County. Cobbled together out of debris and plastic poster banners, a makeshift tent settlement hovers atop the obsolescent wall and a border guard platform falls apart. A section of the former border zone has been converted to a logistics depot for the Nanshan Oil company. Ironic, of course. Across the street in Zhongshan Park, the Ming Dynasty remains of the Nantou City wall have been designated cultural heritage. Impressions of the second line, below.

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Daban Bridge Road

The other day, Annette Kisling and I walked from Xiangnan Village-Neighborhood to Guantou along Daban Bridge Road (大阪桥路), which once paralleled the coastline, connecting the old Yamen at Nantou to Dongjiaotou, a small cove that geographically marked the entrance to the Shekou Port. The stone bridge went over a small tributary from the inner Pearl River Delta. Today, of course, Daban Bridge Road twists parallel to Qianhai Road and the tributary has been reclaimed. In addition, Nanshan District’s extensive road network has partitioned the villages/ neighborhoods that Daban Bridge Road used to link, creating city blocks. Unfortunately, these blocks to not conform to historic breaks between villages along Daban Bridge Road, but rather enforce a strict traffic grid. Pay attention not only to the diversity within neighborhoods, but also between. Enjoy.

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old haunts

In the mid-1990s, when Nanshan District launched “Cultural Nanshan” most events were held in or around the Nanshan Cultural-Sports Center (南山文体中心), which included a sculpture museum and the Red Earth Cafe and Bar, where Zero Sun Moon, an early incarnation of Fat Bird first performed. The design and scale of the Cultural-Sports Center reflected early Shenzhen values; it was three stories high, had an outdoor stage for Everybody Happy (大家乐video) events, and small, cultural entrepreneurs rented rooms. I remember walking two-lane boulevards to use the computers at one of those shops, as well as playing go at the weiqi and western chess club.

Located diagonally across the street from the Cultural-Sports Center, the Nanshan Library was finished in time for the Handover and signaled the area’s future designs. Beijing sculptor, Bao Pao collected discarded metal and sutured it together to make the Library’s fence, which still stands. However, the Cultural Center crumbled where it stood until 2009, when Nanshan District approved an 800 million (8亿) budget to build a landmark building on the site. By this time, of course, the Coastal City mall was already open and the abutting Tianli and Poly Center Malls were nearing completion in anticipation of the Universiade. The point is that this area of upscale consumption is now called “the Nanshan Cultural Center” and the Nanshan Cultural Sports Center has been demoted to a bus station even though that’s where all the cultural infrastructure was / is being built.

Below, pictures from a walk around the Nanshan Cultural Sports Center block. Of note, Nanshan District’s neo-Confucian propaganda, the remnants of Old Nanshan, and the neoliberalization of the cityscape, including a high-concept Marriage Registration Bureau Hall and shopping plaza. Also, there will be a diamond market just around the corner.

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