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Title: Rethinking Shanghai's urban housing
Authors: Hee, L. 
Keywords: Architecture
Urban design
Urban housing
Issue Date: 2007
Citation: Hee, L. (2007). Rethinking Shanghai's urban housing. International Journal for Housing Science and Its Applications 31 (4) : 275-284. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: The phenomenal development of Shanghai, China in recent years has been the subject of much discussion, especially by those in the city building professions. Today, the cityscape is dominated by towering skyscrapers and office buildings, commercial malls, elevated highways and ring roads. With the rise of the Chinese middle-class in the 1920s, new "high-rise" apartment houses replaced the older low-rise lilong. In the 1950s, cooperative housing blocks or danwei were built by Chinese socialist architects at the outskirts of the city. Since the 1980s, Shanghai saw the massive growth in residential development, with two clear patterns emerging: one, a large quantity of housing in the form of residential districts constructed in the area around the old city core; the other is the random distribution of many high-rise apartment buildings within the city core. In many ways, due to the speed of urban transformations in Shanghai, the city represents a unique opportunity to witness places in the city that are at different stages of urban transformations. Many Chinese are ready to sacrifice old city fabric such as the lilong - the old form of low-rise hybrid of the Chinese courtyard house and the European row house - for modern high-rise apartments, as lilong lack sanitation infrastructure and insulation, and most are overcrowded and by modern standards, unlivable. The paper showcases some of the approaches explored through the design studio, and discusses the feasibility of these approaches for implementation in the urban conditions exemplified in other fast growing cities. Such an academic exercise in urban housing takes into account the urban transformation of the surrounding urban fabric and proposes alternatives to the mega-superblocks favored in the residential development of Shanghai, which often are "pushed" by economic factors ahead of other issues. The urban intervention of the studio project is to propose housing development in the city core that acknowledges the state of transformation, as well as try to capture a sense of the old neighborhoods that have been rapidly replaced. Although not nostalgic for a past that many Chinese are glad to leave behind, a sense of scale and relationship is sought in the new proposals, which embody high-density but are not necessarily mega-blocks, but instead form part of a sustainable urban infrastructure. Issues like design for social and ecological sustainability, urban flux created by a transient population, new lifestyle preferences and social justice have been reexamined in the context of urban housing. Copyright © 2007 IAHS.
Source Title: International Journal for Housing Science and Its Applications
ISSN: 01466518
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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