Beijing (1950s) / Bibliography 2
Author: Lu Duanfang
This Book provides an intriguing perspective to view Chinese city as “third world modernity – the utopianization of modernity” where “scarcity and modernity are conceptually reconciled” (Lu, 2006, p. 11). Although the book is not specifically talking about Beijing but rather grasping the dynamics behind the built environment under Chinese socialism, I find the this relationship perfectly applicable to Beijing as the most typical Chinese city.
The evaluation of the work unit and its socio-spatial implications for the Chinese city helps me understand why the planning ideals in Beijing fails to come into urban reality. And follow the author’s instruction, I am able to interpret the districts of Beijing simply as different neighborhood systems and work units of varied national administrative hierarchy, both of which are the driven force for the urban form of Beijing.
“Every work unit is a walled enclosure, or, if large enough, a cluster of several walled enclosures.” (Lu, 2006, p. 52) Thus the physical form of Beijing can actually be interpreted simply as different types of walls. It becomes even more interesting when the author compares the city wall in traditional China, the demolish of Beijing’s city walls which Liang Sicheng tried hard to preserve and the rise of the unit wall. “Eventually, the city of Beijing burst through its walled enclosure and burgeoned outwards in every direction.” (Lu, 2006, p. 134) The author’s description even made the loss of the city wall poetic.
To be honest, this book is my favorite one during my research into Beijing. Rather than superficially judging right or wrong, loss or gain, it analyses the urban planning in a social-scientific perspective and reads the history in a entropic view.
“The debris that has been smashed by the previous storm is more than just a residue: it holds the potential to bring about another storm.” (Lu, 2006, p. 142)
Lu, D. (2006). Remaking Chinese Urban Form: Modernity, Scarcity and Space, 1949–2005. New York: Routledge.