curate your own shenzhen walking tour with handshake 302!

Handshake 302 is starting a three-week program to train and encourage people to develop their own walking tours of Shenzhen. Thank you Partnerships for Community Development for your support.

shekou tour — from villages to the new coastline via a few side streets

Wonderful walking tour of Shekou with Huang Weiwen, Director of the Shenzhen Center for Design. Of particular note (in no particular order):

Nanhai Road was the primary artery and all industrial parks and housing were built along that road. This road has pride of place on the original China Merchants plan for Shekou. However, on the same map, the village areas were blank. Moreover, road and infrastructure construction served to isolate, rather than integrate the villages into Shekou society. Nevertheless, public facilities such as hospitals, post offices and schools were built in the border zones between the village and China Merchant settlements.

The craze for creating material traces of a history for Shenzhen continues. Next to the Shekou wet market — which has been externally renovated with LED screens — a strip of village holdings / former factories is being converted into “Fishing Street”, where there will be restaurants and other places of consumption. The design for Fishing Street juxtaposes three different Chinese traditions: Guizhou style houses, bas relief murals of Dan or Tan people fishing history, and palm trees. The Guizhou houses were first seen in the Meillen hotel and apartments, but the style has clearly trickled down. The Dan, of course, were the people who lived on fishing boats, only coming online with land reform during the early Mao era. Before they were used as ornamental topiary, the palm trees were used locally as cash crops to make fans. This new development further deepens other murals and village museums in the area.

The most distressing change? The almost complete privatization of the coastline. The new marina includes a private road to that last stretch of leasure coastline. Indeed, residents may now access the coastline either through the Shenzhen Bay Park or window views from a highrise.

ALso, as we walked from the village areas toward China Merchants developments, I couldn’t help but notice the abandoned telephone booths — they litter the older sections of the city. Moreover, it is only when actually noticing these empty stalls that I realize there are no public phones throughout the newer sections of the city. Instead, we all carry phones (of varying degrees of intelligence.)

Impressions, below.

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