University of Oulu

From urban villages to density

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Author: Gustin, Nicolas1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Oulu School of Architecture, Architecture
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 224.9 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Oulu : N. Gustin, 2014
Publish Date: 2014-06-02
Thesis type: Master's thesis (tech)
Tutor: Kjisik, Hennu
Reviewer: Mahlamäki, Rainer
Ylimaula, Anna-Maija
Koiso-Kanttila, Jouni
Kjisik, Hennu
Hentilä, Helka-Liisa
Herneoja, Aulikki
Soikkeli, Anu-Sisko
Özer-Kemppainen, Özlem
Sanaksenaho, Matti
Migration from countryside to urban or suburban areas is a worldwide phenomenon that is outstanding in China due to growing demography, political orientations and economy. The aim of this work is to analyse to what extent architecture can contribute to solve this complex problem taking into account the main economical, sociological, environmental aspects. With this integrative approach, we will analyze and discuss (1) the China’s housing crisis and its history, (2) the specific case of Shanghai, and (3) the solutions for Chinese cities considering Shanghai as a place for experimentations. In its 30 years, the communist government was isolated in the world. In 1978, open-door policies enabled China to build global connections and the country is now fully integrated to the world economic system. Inequalities, both between rural and urban areas and within them, have reached an alarming level. Innovation solutions either economic, or social, or urban or architectural, are urgently needed. Rather than demolishing the traditional building stock and relocating the existing urban communities, priority should be given to the improvement of infrastructures in traditional areas. Much like other East Asian cities, Shanghai has been formed by urban villages. These urban villages form intense, socially connected communities. As described in the first chapters, driven by demographic and economic forces since the start of the second millennium, these cities are rapidly changing. The old urban patterns are suffering from a massive ‘block invasion’. These alien buildings are scraping away urban villages destroying communities and relocating the inhabitants in the suburbs. Facing a population growth, the municipality decided to promote vertical expansion of the city to solve overcrowding problems and to avoid urban staggering. Nowadays, the urban landscape is characterized by the international influence and desires of modernization. Shanghai has impressive road infrastructures and modern equipment. The rush to triple the amount of living space per person in a city of 17 million people in addition to the need to accommodate the migrants from rural area induced a massive housing boom in Shanghai at the expense of traditional urban fabric. Urban growth is a much more complicated phenomenon than simply wiping out the existing and replacing it. As Richard Sennett mentions, it’s a matter of evolution rather than renewal. The vibrant street life is disappearing because of the massive aggression of shopping malls, blocks, and towers built as isolated objects in the existing urban pattern. As in Le Corbusier’s model public life, the ground level is totally eliminated due to the absence of the street forcing people to live and work in an isolated way. This strategy denies evolution of the city and literally freezes the city in time. Growth needs a relation with the past in order to make it evolve rather than destroy. The project is introducing an urban strategy regarding to the preservation of existing urban fabric through a multi historical centre allowing. District are developed allowing smaller economy to develop necessary for the integration of new rural migrants. Urban Growth is orchestrated in relation with its past, renewing the identity of the Chinese city. The densification of the city is developed in a more equitable way based on the features of urban villages aiming also to reduce the relocation of existing inhabitants and to decrease urban sprawl. By densifying more, the social quality of the city is improved.
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Copyright information: © Nicolas Gustin, 2014. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.