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

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Overview

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. She shows that as China’s quest for modernity created a perpetual scarcity as both a social reality and a national imagination, the realization of planning ideals was postponed. 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 geography made up in large part of self-contained work units.

Remaking Chinese Urban Form provides an important reference for academics and students conducting research on China. It will be a key source for courses on Asia in architecture, urban planning, geography, sociology and anthropology, at both the graduate and undergraduate level. The insightful yet accessible introduction to urban China will also be of interest to architects, urban designers and planners – as well as general audience who wish to learn about contemporary Chinese society.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

'This volume is an insightful analysis of the urban built environment in the context of a transforming political economy within material constraints ... In the fields of Chinese development and architecture, this is an essential addition.' - Reginald Yin-Wang Kwok, University of Hawai'i at Manoa

'[This book] makes a major contribution to our understanding of the socialist production of space ... an important benchmark in the study of Chinese urbanism and urbanization.' - Margaret Crawford, Harvard University

'With extraordinary detailed first-hand fieldwork and archive search, [Lu] depicts space production in both socialist and reform periods... The book has two outstanding strengths: its sensitivity to history and keen observations of spatial details. It traces current urban forms to historical tradition and related many seemingly irrelevant forms to the their common logic of space production... Overall, this is a truly benchmark work in the study of Chinese urban form.' - Fulong Wu, China Information, Vol. XXI, No. 3, 2007

'Contemporary Chinese urban space is viewed as the product of socialist modernization and Third World scarcity. This volume is an insightful analysis of the urban built environment in the context of a transforming political economy within material constraints. The narrative has a rare insider’s perception and understanding. In the fields of Chinese development and architecture, this is an essential addition.' - Reginald Yin-Wang Kwok, University of Hawai’i at Manoa

'In her study of the work unit as a socialist concept, living and working environment, and fundamental element of the distinctive morphology of the Maoist city, Duanfang Lu illuminates both space and society. Her nuanced interpretation of the work unit, based on extensive research and utilizing a sophisticated theoretical framework, makes a major contribution to our understanding of the socialist production of space. This book is an important benchmark in the study of Chinese urbanism and urbanization.' - Margaret Crawford, Harvard University

'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. …This bold and innovative approach pays dividends, and while I might not agree with every argument, I was left with an impression of both detailed archival scholarship and rare imagination in the field of China studies.' - Michael Dutton, University of London (Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review)

'This is a fascinating book about the transformation of the Chinese urban form. Duanfang Lu traces the changes in the built environment to the beginning of a "new time"—a socialist and postcolonial time. With extraordinary detailed first-hand fieldwork and archive search, she depicts space production in both socialist and reform periods. The story of work-unit working and living space is narrated with sophistication, using the perspectives of political economy and postcolonialism to offer a fresh angle on contemporary China. …Overall, this is a truly benchmark work in the study of Chinese urban form.' - Fulong Wu, Cardiff University (China Information)

'Lu’s discussion of the architectural and social history of the work unit is a major contribution to Chinese architectural history. …It must be emphasized that this history would otherwise be out of reach for the "visible foreigner" in China, as non-Chinese scholars would almost certainly be barred from many of the relevant archives and spaces discussed in this important new book.' - Johnathan A. Farris, Michigan Technological University (Journal of Society of Architectural Historians)

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Duanfang Lu is Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney, Australia.

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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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