Zhang Hao • 16 Jun 2014
Tianzifang (田子坊) is an arts and crafts enclave that has developed from a renovated residential area in Shanghai, China. It is known for small craft stores, coffee shops, art studios and narrow alleys. “Despite all the businesses selling trendy foreign goods, the area does not have the look of having been overly beautified — electricity cables are still strung overhead, and air conditioning units are obvious on the outside of the buildings. The district is distinctly different from Xintiandi, another Shikumen redevelopment in the vicinity to the north, in that it has managed to preserve its residential feel, adding to its appeal.” However, to preserve this “residential feel”, conflicts among local residents, developers, shop owners, and tourists are getting increasingly intense, which brought us an inevitable question: how to preserve a declining area and balance healthy community and economic-beneficial tourism in a win-win solution?
Zhang Hao • 26 May 2014
On May 17, 2014, I attended the Youth Planners’ Innovation Forum. The forum was held by China’s most prestigious planning school — Tongji University — as a brainstorm with inspiring lectures on various research fields on urban studies. The forum was divided into 4 major symposiums, including “区域发展与总体规划” (regional development and master planning), “城市更新与历史保护” (urban renewal and historic preservation), “乡村规划与城乡统筹” (rural planning and urban-rural integration), “信息技术与规划创新” (information technology and planning innovation). The lectures and discussions afterwards generated some very visionary ideas and they are undoubtedly beneficial to provide solutions for China’s urban predicaments at present.
Zhang Hao • 19 May 2014
In China, each person has a household registration, also known as hukou (户口) in either a rural area or an urban area, and cannot change it without the permission of the receiving jurisdiction. David Dollar, World Bank Country, explains “Hukou system kept rural-urban migration below what it otherwise would have been, and contributed to the development of one of the largest rural-urban income divides in the world.” In short, it is much like a green card or “internal passport” that provides its bearer access to public service, such as health care, education, etc. But, as stated by China Labour Bulletin, the downside of this system is that “Outside their home province, migrant workers face numerous institutional hurdles compared to local residents, such as tougher standards for entrance into universities, requirements for residential permits, limited access to health and social services, including schools for their children and, in some cases, restrictions on purchase of homes and vehicles.”
Zhang Hao • 12 May 2014
The outstanding work of The Spirit of Cities  by Bell and de-Shalit gives a very interesting point of view at how some cities are unique for their citizens. As a matter of fact more and more Chinese citizens feel detached from their cities. They find it difficult to recognize their city identity whereas identity might be a key factor to integrate millions of people in a short time to new urban area without them feeling they do not belong here or that they live just-another-lambda city.