When the Megaproject Meets the Village

Formal and Informal Urbanization in Southern China

Authored by: Max Hirsh , Dorothy Tang

The Routledge Companion to Critical Approaches to Contemporary Architecture

Print publication date:  August  2019
Online publication date:  August  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138917569
eBook ISBN: 9781315688947
Adobe ISBN:


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This essay studies four villages in Panyu—a peri-urban region at the heart of China’s Pearl River Delta—in order to investigate broader changes in the social, aesthetic, and economic landscapes of China’s megacity regions. Rather than charting a progressive and irreversible urbanization of the countryside, it demonstrates how the creative juxtaposition of rural, urban, and suburban functions has produced an exceptional heterogeneity of spatial arrangements and village transformation strategies. In so doing, the chapter questions prevailing ideas about the future of Chinese cities—which envision an intensification of high-density urban cores and a counterpart decline of outlying areas—by drawing attention to the diversity and dynamism taking place in peri-urban regions. An exploration of these villages thus aims to increase awareness of socio-spatial experiments that are being conducted on the margins of major urban centers: creative approaches that open up the possibility of alternative redevelopment models for China as a whole.

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