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Investigating Variances in Inhabitancy Configurations of Shanghai Downtown (lilong) Natives During Urban Renewal


Investigating Variances in Inhabitancy Configurations of Shanghai Downtown (lilong) Natives During Urban Renewal

2016.10.17 Mon to 2016.10.23 Sun

Same-Same is a project initiated by West Heavens since 2011. It has invited several groups of students from KRVIA Architecture School Mumbai, to work with Shanghai local young architecture students to refresh the tools and views in investigating Shanghai. This year's project will focus on variances in inhabitancy configurations of shanghai downtown (lilong) natives during urban renewal. This is also the third year of the three-year exchange program between KRVIA and Shanghai Jiaotong University.

Instructors: Fan Wenbing, Aneerudha PAUL
Host: West Heavens
Participants: Department of Architecture, Shanghai Jiaotong University & KRVIA, Mumbai
Support: Inter-Asia School, Moonchu Foundation

I. Introduction

As a unique form of inhabitancy configuration, lilong (里弄), a symbol for the blending of Chinese and Western cultures, served as a century-long vital form of residence for the most of Shanghai’s population. However, many lilong’s have been destructed since the late 1980s, while Shanghai steps into the course of urban renewal, just the same as many other cities in China. Former lilong residents had to move, and the historical features of Shanghai disappeared. The inhabitancy configuration changed greatly.

The radical, massive and intensive transformation of Shanghai has lasted for near 30 years, and may hardly continue as the resistance growing greater. Acerb conflicts are boosted in urban renewal as the housing price soars in the last decade: class segregation sharpens, and higher classes invade lower classes to a greater extent.

Our research attempts to probe into temporal variances in inhabitancy configurations by means of on-the-spot investigations and theoretical inspirations from resident modality, starting from the perspective of emphasizing on lilong residents. It is an interdisciplinary research which assembles commands of architecture, sociology, urban planning, urban renewal, and urban design. By thorough comparison and analysis concerning two types of lilong residents (those who were relocated, and those who still live in the downtown lilong’s), we expect to find out pros and cons along with the reasons, and to propose suggestions on current policies and design strategies for urban renewal.

II. Method and Grouping

During the process of our investigation, participants are supposed to form 6 groups. 3 (numbered as A1,A2,A3) will conduct surveys on natives who stayed in the remaining lilong’s, and the other 3 (B1,B2,B3) on relocated residents. Each group will investigate one site.

I. Type A
Investigations concerning natives in lilong’s. Comparing to Type B, no radical changes happened necessarily in our interviewees. Changes in their lifestyle and inhabitancy took place gradually and slowly. Our interest in the survey with regard to these natives is similar to Type B, but in different approaches:
1. Survey and Analysis on Self-Constructed (incl. illegal) Housing
On different ways of constructing housing (by residents themselves) in different periods of time;
E.g.Compare self-constructed houses on Dinghaigang Road with house constructed by state-run institutions at 449 Dinghai Road (there is an article published on a journal);
Could sort out data with typological drawings, find out regularities, reasonability, and humanity in illegal constructing.
2. Survey on Relationship between Physical and Communal Spaces
(1) Investigate outdoor (blocks) and indoor (houses/apartments) physical space, as well as the relationship of privacy and publicity at different scales indicated by the physical space (Mapping, photography, cognitive maps are suggested measures);
(2) Investigate varied extents of privacy, publicity, and community in real life;
(3) Analyze the relationship of the above two, and its causes.

(ii) Type B

Investigations concerning relocated residents. Suggested fields of survey:
(1) personal information of the interviewees;
(2) family structure before relocation;
(3) residential conditions before relocation, including the former address, former location, former apartment layout, former situation of living;
(4) residential conditions after relocation, including the present address, present location, present apartment layout, present situation of living;
(5) subjective feelings about relocation.

The investigation should take into account the following three major factors:
(1) explicit inhabitancy configuration, e.g. apartment layouts, community planning, landscape environment, supporting facilities, traffic;
(2) implicit lifestyle, e.g. family, interpersonal communication, mores, customs, way of life, impacts on occupations;
(3) experiences and feelings concerning material necessities.

Students will be grouped into 5 groups with 4-5 for each, 3 for A type and 2 for B type.


Fan Wenbing is associate Chair of the Department of Architecture, Shanghai Jiaotong University; chief architect of Atelier Fan. He has been working on architectural pedagogy, urban renewal, and the domestic architectural design in Contemporary China. His publications include the Conservation and Renewal of LiLong Housings in Shanghai (2004) and Notes on Architectural Pedagogy (2014). In 2004 and 2005, Fan worked as a visiting scholar in Société d'Économie Mixte et d'Aménagement de la Ville de Paris (SEMAPA), sponsored by the French President Scholarship. In 2012 and 2013, he worked on architectural design pedagogy in Ohio State University (OSU), sponsored by the China Scholarship Council (CSC). He has received many honors and awards regarding to his achievements as a teacher; this includes the Excellent Course Award by Shanghai Municipal Education Commission (2010) and the Outstanding Teacher Award granted by Shanghai Jiaotong University (2012). As an architect, he has directed many national and international award-winning projects in architectural and urban design. His works have been exhibited in Shanghai Biennale 2002, Shanghai International Young Architects Design Competition, Chengdu Biennale, etc.

Aneerudha PAUL is presently the Director of the Kamala Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute of Architecture (KRVIA), Mumbai, where has been the Deputy Director from 2000–2002 and the Coordinator of the Design Cell from1995-2000. Through the Design Cell he has been involved in research projects; engaged with various stakeholders like the government, community based organization and communities, to inform and provide for alternative imaginations for a sustainable urban future. From 2003 onwards he has been an advisor to the Collective Research Initiatives Trust (CRIT) which does research and intervention project on contemporary cultural and spatial practices in the city of Mumbai. Through CRIT he is presently involved in working with issues of housing and slums in the inner city areas, assisting communities to develop their own plan for their neighborhoods. In the July, 2007 he was a part of the International Visitors Leadership Programme on “Cultural Heritage Preservation”‘, organized by the Dept. of States, United State of America. He has also participated and presented papers in numerous conferences and workshop organized urbanism and architecture. He has also been actively involved in publishing in this field. He has also been a part of many advisory government committees which assist and inform in the framing of policies on important architectural and urban projects in the country.

Supporting Team from West Heavens

Project Coordinator: Yiren ZHAO
Designer: Yimeng Wang
Cameraman: Yafeng LI