Small-scale urban redevelopment in China: A case study of Yongqingfang in Guangzhou

Authors: Manqi Wang*, University College London, Fangzhu Zhang, University College London, Fulong Wu, University College London
Topics: China, Urban Geography, Political Geography
Keywords: urban redevelopment, historic district, small-scale, urban governance, Yongqingfang, Guangzhou
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 5:55 PM
Room: Virtual 33
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In the last few decades, Chinese cities have experienced large-scale urban demolition and renewal. However, since 2015, ‘small-scale urban redevelopment’ (weigaizao), has been introduced and become a prevailing urban policy. This paper examines Yongqingfang – a pilot project in Guangzhou from which the policy of small-scale redevelopment was derived. The project was operated by Vanke, the major property developer in China. The project of Yongqingfang did not demolish old dwellings but instead transformed them into small co-working offices and shops to preserve the traditional style of housing as cultural heritage. The project also renovated museums and created small public squares. The development was known for the involvement of residents in regeneration. We find that although the traditional style of buildings has been preserved, the neighbourhood has been transformed from residential uses to office uses, shops and tourist sites. The government is the landlord of this public housing estate and lent the land to the developer through build-operate-transfer (BOT). The actual influence of residents over small-scale urban redevelopment is rather limited. Whilst a few private homeowners remain after the redevelopment, most earlier tenants were relocated. This small-scale redevelopment, in fact, led to a significant change in the neighbourhood.

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