Remaking Chinese Urban Form : Modernity, Scarcity and Space, 1949-2005 book cover
1st Edition

Remaking Chinese Urban Form
Modernity, Scarcity and Space, 1949-2005

ISBN 9780415665698
Published May 16, 2011 by Routledge
216 Pages

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Book Description

In this pioneering study of contemporary Chinese urban form, Duanfang Lu provides an analysis of how Chinese society constructed itself through the making and remaking of its built environment. Drawing on archival documents, professional journals and her own fieldwork, she explores hitherto overlooked issues including the history of China’s residential planning paradigms and the development of the work unit as an urban form.

Lu shows how China’s quest for modernity created a perpetual scarcity as both a social reality and a national imagination. Although planners attempted to apply modern planning techniques to the city, the realization of planning ideals was postponed. The conflicting relationship between scarcity and the socialist system created specific spatial strategies. The work unit – the socialist enterprise or institute – gradually developed from workplace to social institution which integrated work, housing and social services. The Chinese city achieved a unique morphology made up in large part of self-contained work units.

Today, when the Chinese city has revealed its many faces, Remaking Chinese Urban Form presents a refreshing panorama of the nation’s mixed experiences with socialist and Third World modernity which is both timely and provocative.

Table of Contents

1 Introduction: Socialist Space, Postcolonial Time PART I: 1.China Modern 2.The Neighbourhood Unit in China: The Travel of a Global Urban Form Work Unit Modernism PART II: 3.Urban Dreams 4. The Socialist Production of Space: Planning, Urban Contradictions, and the Politics of Consumption in Beijing, 1949-1965 5. Modernity as Utopia: Planning the People’s Commune, 1958-1960 PART III: Shifting Boundaries 6. The Latency of Tradition: From the City Wall to the Unit Wall 7. The New Frontier: Urban Space and Everyday Practice in the Reform Era 8. Epilogue


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Duanfang Lu is Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Sydney. She is the editor of Third World Modernism: Architecture, Development and Identity, also published by Routledge.


‘With extraordinary detailed first-hand fieldwork and archive search, [Lu] depicts space production in both socialist and reform periods...It traces current urban forms to historical tradition and related many seemingly irrelevant forms to the common logic of space production... Overall, this is a truly benchmark work in the study of Chinese urban form. ―Fulong Wu, China Information

In the fields of Chinese development and architecture, this is an essential addition.’ - Reginald Yin-Wang Kwok, University of Hawaii

‘Remaking Chinese Urban Form is a work that anyone interested in the question of China and urban planning must read. Yet, in many ways, it is also much more. Bursting with new ideas, the author takes the reader on a barnstorming tour of issues and problems that have afflicted Chinese architecture and urban planning over the last fifty or so years.’ - Michael Dutton, Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review

‘Lu’s discussion of the architectural and social history of the work unit is a major contribution to Chinese architectural history.’ - Johnathan A. Farris, Journal of Society of Architectural Historians

‘This book is an important benchmark in the study of Chinese urbanism and urbanization.’ - Margaret Crawford, Harvard University