Luohu as we knew it is changing. The recent announcement that urban renewal compensation has made billionaires of Shuibei villagers, the decision to selectively preserve and redesign Hubei as a “historic” public park area, and ongoing renewal of Caiwuwei fang (坊) or “branches”–individually, each of these projects entails demolition, evictions, and rebuilding and restructuring of particular neighborhoods, but taken together these projects entail through revision of the Old Special Zone. And yes, we’ve been watching this happen all along, but enough of the earlier urban tecture remained that we could feel where we came from, as we moved between and through adjacent neighborhoods. These new projects signal something else. Continue reading
Happy to have my interview with Huang Weiwen, “The Urban Planning Imaginary: Lessons from Shenzhen” included in the recently published, Shenzhen: From Factory of the World to World City from the International New Towns Institute. As you can see from the index, contributors include many folks who have been involved in thinking about, debating, and planning Shenzhen.
Last year, the last of Foshan’s famous pottery kilns was decommissioned, leaving the city poised at the edge of a complete renovation–from a dense network of markets, township and village owned industrial parks, and new villages into something bright and shiny, an amalgamation of high-rises, offices, and malls, where products that are no longer produced in Foshan can be purchased by people who suddenly find themselves positioned to become a next generation of “urban village” landlords. Continue reading
This past week, I toured Shangling Old Village (上岭村) in Dalang. Decaying villages like Shangling contextualize the “what came after” success story that is SHENZHEN! And yet. This contextualization depends upon one, standardized (and quite frankly boring) narrative of rags to riches, sudden wealth, boom boom boom, etcetera etcetera and so forth. Continue reading
I walked the park area and new residential area behind the Nuwa statue in Seaworld. This entire area has been reclaimed. It is startling how the loss of physical landmarks makes it difficult to remember where I’ve been because this isn’t that place.
Walked through the remaining section of Gangxia and noticed the strong contrasts of a sunny day: bright and dark, sun and shadows smack in the middle of Shenzhen’s Central axis. Check it out:
Affordable housing is a hot topic in Shenzhen and in fact, the topic is of current interest because one of the utopian impulses at Wutong Island is a proposal to bring back dormitories and cafeterias for single young professionals. Affordable housing also frames debates on the value that urban villages provide the city of Shenzhen. Results from a non-random survey of my friends on the state of dormitory housing in Shenzhen follow. Continue reading