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Balancing commercial and heritage scapes: Atmosphere, vitality and sterility in the urban conservation spaces of Shanghai

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Andrew LawORCiD



Noticeably in recent years there has been a growing concern amongst Chinese and western academics that developers (both domestic and international) are creating a new series of modernised blandscapes that are sterile and ‘place’-less; moreover and in tandem with these processes, writers have maintained that the growth in these developments has brought about a concomitant demolition of Chinese urban heritage. From another perspective, other commentators have suggested that many contemporary residential urban heritage spaces in China’s cities fall short of contemporary ideas of decent living standards; as a result some writers have claimed that demolition and redevelopment is unfair to vast numbers of poor and generally elderly Chinese urban dwellers. Reflecting on this situation commentators like Non Arkaraprasertkul have argued for demolition and redevelopment in traditional urban settings like the Lilong’s of Shanghai. However, whilst this paper acknowledges the strengths of both of these positions, it is argued that orthodox conservation approaches and/or demolition/redevelopment proposals are not the only ways of tackling the older quarters of Chinese cities; drawing upon alternative social, economic and cultural theories, it is argued here that Chinese urban heritage may in fact serve as a dividend and as a resource to contemporary urban communities; in this regard, whilst this paper advocates a conservationist perspective, it is suggested here that a critical conservationist approach might be developed that would meet the needs of a variety of different social cultural and economic actors.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Law A

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: AESOP 26th Annual Congress

Year of Conference: 2012

Date deposited: 04/01/2013