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Posts tagged ‘城市 urban’

Do we construct the city? Or does the city construct us?


On Friday 15th November at 7.30pm Concrete Flux will be hosting a screening of two short films at HomeShop. The first film, Lost Book Found (1996), directed by Jem Cohen, takes a ‘Flaneurist’ approach to a detective film. But its focus, rather than on the who- and how-dunnit, is on the materiality of the city itself, in its monumental glory and its grimy filth, and in the power of its all-encompassing spatial configuration.

The second film, La Ballon Rouge (Albert Lamorrise, 1956) is a short film about a whimsical path through 1950s Paris. The direction of this path, though led by the floating of a balloon, brings into question the power of institutions over the city and us.

Simon Zhou, Arts and Film Editor at Time Out Beijing, will be providing an introductory talk to both films, which will form a basis for discussion on the experience of urbanity.

The event will also include the announcement of the theme for Concrete Flux Issue 2.

The event will be English only, although a printed Chinese transcript of Simon’s speech will be available.

Join us this weekend for a marathon morning-after satellite screening of the Creative Time Summit 2013, co-hosted by HomeShop and
Arrow Factory

See more about the Creative Time Summit here!

See below for detailed information and screening schedules for the lineup!






《流泥》第一期将在9月13日在线亮相—我的亲啊!为庆祝该盛事,我们将在9月14日晚7至9点在家作坊举行一场pecha kucha风格的研讨会。会中将有六个短讨论环节,每个环节都将伴有投影片,时长不会超过7分钟。讨论课题将由《流泥》的参与者与我们的朋友们决定。




Issue 1 of Concrete Flux will be published online on the evening of Friday 13th September–ominous! To celebrate the publication of the first issue, we will be holding an evening of ‘pecha kucha’ style talks, punctuated by questions and discussion, on Saturday 14th from 7-9 pm at HomeShop. There will be six such short talks, each of no more than 7 minutes and each accompanied by a slideshow. The talks will be from our contributors and people from the broader Concrete Flux community.

We hope that a lively discussion will spill over in to a local bar afterwards and continue into the wee small hours.

The topics and themes raised during the event’s discussions will go on to inform our choice of theme for the next issue of the Concrete Flux journal. Your presence and input are valued!


Special note:
To introduce what Concrete flux aims to promote, we wanted to start off with a participatory project to encourage exploration within the city. So we created a sound-based participatory event and installation, Audio Archaeology 声音考古学. The event starts soon–in just under a month!–and we are seeking some help with covering the costs of the required materials from friends, family and anyone with an interest in what we are doing.

Please have a read through the full description of our project here http://www.kapipal.com/audio_archaeology and consider contributing any amount from £1.50 upwards. There are also goodies available for larger contributions!

Thank you! And please help to spread the word!


“In defence of… Gentrification”
By Igor Rogelja

My first doubts and concerns over how the term gentrification is used didn’t arise so much from a discussion on the applicability of the term in different socio-economic contexts. Neither were they stoked by the oft-cited misuse of the term by social observers, or by a desire to go against the grain of critical urban geography’s canon of work.  While these are all issues I’ve worked with, the first time I actually, physically, flinched was when a city official from Kaohsiung, a Taiwanese port city, used the term in an overwhelmingly positive way, leaving no doubt that such a spatial restructuring was desirable: gentrification as a tool for development. There are of course several possible explanations – maybe the term was simply misused. Perhaps it is a rare and naïve display of candour that city bigwigs in most Western cities have long since learned to avoid, using instead either vacuous terms produced by PR departments or hiding behind complicated urban planning argot. Or both.

And yet, the notion of gentrification as a function of urban development opens new insights into the ways in which cities (especially in rapidly industrializing and developing countries) are being altered, with municipalities increasingly mimicking the input required to set off a gentrifying chain of event which, presumably, result in pleasant streets populated by attractive coffee-drinking people. In a manner that is both real estate-driven and top-down (and thus markedly different from real estate-led gentrification in New York, or the gentrification ground-zero of London’s Islington, where Ruth Glass first coined the term), it is as much a modernist state project, as well as a distinctly free-market driven process. Within the tension between these two loaded terms, project vs. process, I however see no inherent contradiction. Indeed, one finds an analogous shift within the mode of governmentality1 of the contemporary state, where broad societal visions (the project) are being complemented by a web of communities, stakeholders and interests, often reinterpreting the work of the state into a facilitator of personal (and corporate) aspiration, i.e. facilitating the process. Within this new city, whether we call it neoliberal or late-capitalist, gentrification has come to be seen as a central process (or culprit) by which spatial restructuring takes place and by which dilapidated housing stock is replaced, rejuvenated or otherwise shifts from the poor to the aspirational – often with at least the tacit support of the planning authority. Detected all over the globe and discussed in different academic fields, it is no surprise the term is both over-used (spurring Loretta Lees (2003) to upgrade it to ‘super-gentrification’), as well as maligned for its lack of clarity and tendency to obfuscate other important issues – a case which Julie Ren makes in a previous post about Beijing on this blog.

If we however suppose that the radical spatial restructuring in Asian cities is ‘something else,’ especially in the time since the idea of the creative city travelled there via epistemic networks in the late ’90s and 2000s, this requires a back to basics approach. My intention is to try to vindicate the use of the term even in contexts as varied as Beijing, Bangkok or Kaohsiung by looking at gentrification as a function of a late-capitalist spatial restructuring, especially when symbolic capital (Ren Xuefei, 2011) is taken into consideration and the producers of the symbolic meaning, Florida’s ‘creative class,’ become important actors in the field. What this means in practice is that gentrification by culture has become the dominant trend in Greater China, though it can be broken down further to identify both state, commercial and independent actors. Whereas ‘galleries, cafés and artists’ was a well-known gentrification cocktail in the West, these are now joined by an entrepreneurial state, advised by an epistemic community of planners and businessmen, and often following pre-existing templates.  While examples ranging from Beijing’s hutong chic to Shanghai’s Xintiandi have been variously termed as commercialization, preservation, adaptive re-use and gentrification, they have in common a transition from being a place of local (and often marginal) meaning to (replicable) places of consumption and source of pride for the city authorities. Such also, is an example of Kaohsiung’s Park Road, once a messy stretch of hardware shops which has recently been redeveloped, as the jargon goes, into an artsy park as part of a city-wide effort to catch the creativity bandwagon.

Formerly, the area was known as Hardware Street (Wujinjie) and was very much a proxy for the city’s economic history – Taiwan’s dirty, sweaty port city where ships were disassembled, sugar exported and naphtha cracked. It is also a uniquely diverse city, as the rapid industrialisation pulled in large numbers of rural workers into the city – unusual for Taiwan’s otherwise rather tame rural migration. Since the late 1990s however, and for reasons deeply connected to Taiwan’s two party system (Kaohsiung is traditionally the bastion of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party), the city has embarked on an ambitious plan to rebrand itself from cultural desert to cultural hub. In itself, this is nothing remarkable; Manchester, Liverpool, Bilbao, Detroit have all had such turns in urban policy, successful or not. Rather, what is of interest in this case is the micro-level to which the city was engaged in the project of beautification and revitalization of the ailing blue-collar neighbourhood through which Hardware Street cuts. With its cluttered shop floors, oil slicks and loud noise of clunking metal, the street had been earmarked for ‘beautification’ in the run up to the World Games in 2009 in order to create a tourist corridor towards the Pier-2 Art Centre (a reused set of warehouses housing a municipal modern art complex) and to complete a bicycle lane network across the Yancheng neighbourhood (another strategy to attract the ‘creative class’). The demolition was divided in four stages, with the first one beginning in 2007 and the last one completed in 2011. Though the land is publicly owned and a park had been loosely envisaged in the area for decades, the issue here is not so much of legality – in any case the Taiwanese 1998 Urban Renewal Act grants municipal authorities ample powers to reconstruct urban areas, especially on publicly owned land.

Rather, the motivation for the decision is the key to understanding the way in which a gentrified ‘creative Kaohsiung’ is being constructed, not only as a physical space, but also as a space of identity and a new authenticity for Kaohsiung – a city of industrial heritage and a creative future. In this case, the radical restructuring of the abstract space of the plan caused the demolition of over 400 shops and adjacent living quarters and the forced historicization of what was very much a living industry. Thus, shops selling and repairing machine parts were replaced by public art and street furniture constructed out of the very parts which were the hardware shops’ livelihood, commissioned by the municipality and produced by local artists, many of whom have been intimately involved with the setting up of the nearby art centre as well. The area is now a showcase of Kaohsiung’s authenticity, its gritty industrial character now cleaned up for public consumption.

Faced with questions of identity and the allocation of space, the ‘authenticity’ of the area fragmented, as Sharon Zukin has shown on the case of New York’s gentrifying neighbourhoods (2010). In this case, the lived authenticity of the chaotic metalworking shops and the illegible network of unmapped lanes and gaps in the organically (illegally) grown neighbourhood is substituted by a planned authenticity of a different kind – in itself an important trait of gentrification. The industrial character of the area is translated through the instrument of public art into a dizzying array of street furniture and installations, all of which explicitly reference the history of the area – the irony is not lost on the remaining shopkeepers: ‘They took the things that kept us alive and made them dead,’ noted Mr. Bai, a hardware shop owner, while an elderly resident took things one step further, calling the park a place for dogs to shit where rich people can jog around, adding she has no time for such leisurely activities.

Though not explicitly expressed in city planning documents, the notion of authenticity is crucial to this neighbourhood from an economic standpoint and explains the effort to gentrify the area, rather than raze it completely or simply build a new part of town. Not only is the city government promoting mass tourism in the area, but a planned creative industry park also relies on the area’s authenticity to attract investment – most recently a large Hollywood digital effect firm. The firm, Rhythm&Hues, was initially being groomed by the municipal economic development office to occupy a suburban software industry park, but decided to base itself in an old warehouse instead, embracing the industrial feel of the building, which was inaugurated by Ang Lee in November 2012. The area thus gained a new role as a creative park and tourist attraction, though many residents are demonstrably cool towards the weekend crowds, and have moreover found alternative uses for some of the artwork as chairs or even places to dry laundry.

While property-owning residents might financially benefit from the long-term revitalization of the area, the displacement of poorer residents by wealthier newcomers is of course never a total or complete process.2 What is striking is that what had occurred in Kaohsiung has all the outer marks of gentrification, with old shops closing and giving ways to design boutiques and artisanal coffee shops, followed by a 30% increase in real estate prices. And yet, this was a top-down initiative with clearly stated goals, an agreed timeline and due process in the city’s council. It was a project that relied from the outset on the collaboration of the city’s artist community, as well as the approval of the construction businesses, which were granted permissions to construct taller residential buildings in the area.
Gentrification by fiat, if you will.

What then about this example from one Asian marginal city is relevant to the rehabilitation of ‘gentrification’ as a useful term in describing the changes befalling Asian cities? Is it not simply a project of demolition, an Haussmannian echo of sorts? The simple answer is yes, that is precisely what it is, but within it lies the idea that art and creativity can and will change urban space, and beyond that, that they will change it in a way that accommodates ‘Soho-style living,’ as the city’s urban plan bluntly puts it. The legacy of a gentrifying New York or London does not necessarily live unchanged as an endless repetition of successive waves of real-estate price hikes and demographic changes. It manifests itself also in the ordered representations of space of the urban plan. But when aimed at working class neighbourhoods, it is (and always has been) a deproletarization of space; pausing on whether it is ‘planned’ (slum-clearance) or ‘organic’ (gentrification) is in many cases distracting from the point that the displacement typical of gentrification is not only the displacement of people, but in a Lefebvrian way, of the lived space of a neighbourhood for financial and political gain of established elites. To reiterate, the imposition of new conceptual space upon the city is not a natural or spontaneous process. Seeing such changes outside of the social and spatial context is not only incomplete, but also conservative in that it perpetuates neoclassical economists’ insistence on the emergent qualities of gentrification or slum-clearance, endowing urban restructuring with an air of unavoidable, organic change – precisely what Kaohsiung’s municipality tried to convey by consigning to history and artistic representation the living, clunking workshops of its waterfront.

Going back to gentrification as function of development, I suggest the baggage with which the term is burdened is what gives it the critical punch needed to make sense of the spatial transformations in Asian cities, where expectations of development clearly exhibit a tendency to create both the disinvestment needed to create ‘gentrifiable’ areas, as well as a pool of gentrifiers. While the debate between production-side and consumption-side explanations of gentrification thankfully no longer rages, we will be well served to remember that both explanations agree that gentrification as a phenomenon is essentially conditioned by a late-capitalist system. In China especially, where a retreating state has left municipal authorities dependent on land-dealing and thus with a clear interest in rising (or raising) land values, a race towards ever greater exploitation of urban space may manifest itself as either commercialization, gentrification or simply urban development, all of which are apparent not only in the physical space, but in the abstract, conceived space which seeks to impose itself on the city. Viewed in this light, the opening of a café or gallery may not be as serious a sign of gentrification as the commitment of district chiefs to pursue creative policies, though how far the market-driven side will progress remains to be seen. In Kaohsiung certainly, gentrification by culture remains a tool in the arsenal of urban policy.

1) Miller and Rose’s “Governing the Present” (2008) is a great look at the questions of governmentality in advanced liberal democracies, though many nuances equally apply to non-democratic states in advanced stages of development. 

2) While the displacement of working class residents with middle class newcomers is the usual hallmark of gentrification, I reject notions that this substitution must be complete. Vast stretches of London’s Hackney or Islington still remain predominately working class, while in other cases, such as on Broadway Market in Hackney, the mainly Turkish immigrant landlords have benefitted from rising commercial rents. Despite this, both areas remain clear-cut cases of gentrification.

Igor Rogelja is a PhD candidate at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. His research is focused on the role of creative city theory and art in urban redevelopment in Taiwan and China.



The journey back to Zhoukoudian starts by meeting at 6 am on May 1st at Xiehe Hospital.
A number of participants have signed up with their contributions to the story, but participation is still open to all!
Please consider footwear and clothing carefully and any equipment necessary for your participation. Also consider methods of documentation.

Participants can also join at other points along the way if not for the whole walk. Please call 15001127304 (EN) 18910792649 (中文) to find out the progress of the walk and possible meeting points.

If you wish to stay overnight with the group, please let us know by April 29th so that we can make a reservation at a local hotel (costs covered by individuals).
The next day, we will proceed on to the Peking Man site at Zhoukoudian where we will make some collective actions.
Bon voyage!

章节…… Chapters:
蓝T恤 The Blue Shirts ……………………………………………. Adam Chapluski
地形与地层 Landscape Stratoscape …………………………. Patrick Conway
砖头到水泥再归来 from bricks to concrete and back …  François Dey
当穴居人碰上太空人 Caveman Meets Spaceman ………. Michael Eddy
北京人拉松 Pekingathon ………………………………………… Gordon Laurin
丽莎 LISA …………………………………………………………….. 李丽莎 Lisa Li
留 Remains ………………………………………………………….. 欧阳潇 Ouyang Xiao
北京人,你是谁?Peking Man, who are you?……………. 植村絵美 Emi Uemura

…………………………………………和其他勇敢的冒险者…. And other brave adventurers

……………………………………………. 包括 ….. including …. 曲一镇 Qu Yizhen, Alessandro Rolandi, Orianna Cacchione, 王大船家 Wang Dachuan and family

过几天…… and a few days later…


material captured during our Saturday deliveries of WEAR journal in Beijing city, otherwise known as 217.6 km later…:


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早上 9:30 AM | 吴思远 Ray & 高灵 Ling | 菊儿胡同 Ju’er Hutong、左家庄 Zuojiazhuang、汉庭酒店(东直门外分店)HanTing Express Hotel (Dongzhimen Outer branch)


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早上 10:00 AM | 何颖雅 Elaine & 小欧 Orianna | 清华大学美院 Tsinghua University, Fine Arts Department


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早上 11:00 AM | 天汲 Tianji & 左罗 Zoro | 东直门外大街 Dongzhimen Outer Street


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中午 12:00 PM | 王尘尘 Cici & 王大川 River | 东四八条 Dongsi8tiao、地安门 Dianmen、旧宫地铁站 Jiu Gong subway station


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下午 1:00 PM | 高蓓 GAO Bei & 七朵云 Pilar | 苹果派社区 (东5和6环之间) Apple Pie Estates (between the 5th and 6th East Ring Roads)


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下午 1:30 PM | 王若思 Rose & 森林 Céline | 望京 Wangjing、草厂地 Caochangdi


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下午 2:00 PM | 欧阳潇 Xiao & 小欧 Orianna | 幸福西里 Xingfu Xili、东直门内 Dongzhimen Inner Street


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下午 3:00 PM | 曲一箴 Twist & Katharina | 鼓楼西大街 Drum Tower West、鼓楼后面 Drum Tower North、鼓楼东大街 Drum Tower East


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下午 3:00 PM | 张献民 Frank & 何颖雅 Elaine | 卢沟桥 Marco Polo Bridge、东五道口 Wudaokou、奥林匹克公园北门 North Gate of Olympic Park


日期/时间 date__ 9月7日周日,下午5点 | Friday, 7 September, 17:00
地点 location__ 家作坊 HomeShop



2012年9月7日下午5点,也就是本周五下午5点,我们很荣幸的邀请到一位很特别的专家来分享户用厨余堆肥技术,她是来自日本旅居柏林的艺术家、园艺师Ayumi Matsuzaka。在过去几年中,Ayumi Matsuzaka在全世界推介她在食物,废弃物及自然循环方面的知识。最近她也参加了在伊比利亚当代艺术中心的“改变的力量!美学与可持续性的探索”系列活动。如果你错过了她在伊比利亚当代艺术中心的活动,人生将在家作坊给你第二次机会,不容再次错过哦!



Beijing Urban Farming Union: home composting workshop

The first Beijing Urban Farming Union event has met with great interest and we vowed to continue a series of workshops and meetings to learn about growing food in the city. It all begins with the soil, but accessing soil and organic nutrients has proven to be a problem in the city; meanwhile, the dumpsites are still filled with 63% kitchen waste, polluting the environment. So practical solutions for home composting are at the top of the priority list.

This Friday (7 September 2012) at 5pm, we will have the pleasure to learn a proven home composting method from a very distinguished specialist. Ayumi Matsuzaka is a japanese artist and gardener living in Berlin; she has travelled the world spreading her knowledge on food, waste, and natural cycles for several years; in Beijing she also takes part of the sustainability/art series “Examples to Follow” at Iberia Art center. For those who couldn’t meet her there, life gives you a second chance at HomeShop. Don’t miss it!

We will learn about the urban gardening movement in Berlin and focus on a small-scale non-smelly composting method for your apartment/balcony/rooftop. If you have a used bucket or box with a lid (up to 40 liters), you can bring it to the workshop and take home your starter kit.

Please register in advance for us to prepare the materials.

价格 cost__ 20元

报名请联系 please rsvp__ lianxi@homeshop.org.cn

北京都市农耕联盟 启动会:8月11日,16:00 @家作坊
Beijing Urban Farming Union kickoff meeting: August 11, 16:00 @ HomeShop

诚邀您来家作坊参加这次有关都市农耕交流,来认识志同道合的朋友,了解关于都市农耕的实际情况和DIY自己动手的技术,与其他朋友分享自己的知识和经验。 从哪弄土壤和肥料? 从哪获得种子? 用什么容器? 在哪种? 该如何共同努力才能把都市农耕变得更容易更有趣呢? 为了解答这些问题,我们将组织参观家作坊的实地小农场、堆肥实验及种子交换库,对小型的民间及社区农耕行动进行介绍,探讨连接不同的农耕群体(包括潜在的农耕者)并促进他们的合作的可能途径。 我们应该在城市里种植更多的粮食和蔬菜! 这次交流会就是为了邀请大家参与进来!

Please join us for a gathering at HomeShop to exchange on urban farming in Beijing. It’s an opportunity to meet likeminded people, learn some facts and d.i.y. techniques, and share knowledge and experiences. How can we access soil and fertilizer? Where can we get seeds? What materials can we use for containers, and where can we put them? How can we work together to make it easier and more fun?

To address these questions, on the agenda will be a tour of HomeShop’s on-site small farm and composting experiments and Seed Exchange Bank, presentations on small civil-society and community initiatives into agriculture in Beijing, and envisioning possible ways of linking up and cooperating among diverse groups of growers (and potential growers).

We should grow more food in the cities! This meeting is an invitation to get involved.

Co-organized by HomeShop and Jonas Nakonz 

在家门口种上一株黄瓜,即刻你就被转移到一个包含所有下列事物的宇宙:全球政治,复杂生态系统,社会变化,减缓气候变化,DIY技术,大大提高的生活质量和关注自然之美带来的精神上感悟。 民以食为天,但是平常你吃的食物可能带来生物多样性破坏,全球气候变化,土壤和水的污染。
数据: 在中国,农业一个部门排放的温室气体是整个工业部门的将近两倍。每年中国使用约有5千万吨化学肥料,但只有17%被作物吸收,其余的则都流失到了环境中。更不用说,每年喷洒在你食物上的150万吨农药,还有在生产这些农药过程中使用的煤炭能源。而在中国,马路上30%的耗油大卡车实际上是在运送粮食。如果你能闻到饭菜里的燃油气味,肯定吃不下饭!
中国的城市化带来了人类历史上最大规模的人口迁移,也创造了大约1万平方公里的可使用的屋顶面积,这些空间给有机种植者提供了一个庞大的舞台来解决前面提到的问题。此外,大量的有机质以厨余垃圾的形式被浪费。北京每天就填埋处理8千吨,焚烧处理2千吨厨余垃圾,而这些厨余垃圾完全经过堆肥处理制成有机肥来供都市农耕使用。 在市区,“桶园艺”令人耳目一新,尤其在中老年人中很流行。但都市农耕的潜力远远不止于此。技术琳琅满目,从利用回收的瓶子完成自灌的简易系统到由传感器控制的自动化农场,非常有意思。任何空间和环境都有其用武之地。都市农耕能把灰暗压抑的水泥空间变成令人耳目一新的的放松与聊天场所。它创新社区、交流网络、以及教育和能力建设的平台。不要再等政府来帮忙解决我们这个星球的问题。如果你种下那棵黄瓜,那么你就为一项伟大的事业贡献了一份力量!

Plant a cucumber at your doorstep and you’re instantly beamed into a universe of global politics, complex ecosystems, social change, climate change mitigation, d.i.y. technology, massively improved quality of life and spiritual enlightenment contemplating the beauty of nature. Food sustains life; but eating your average food can contribute to the destruction of biodiversity, global warming and poisoning of soils and water.
Some figures: Chinese agriculture emits almost twice as much greenhouse gas than its entire industrial sector. Of the yearly 50 Million tons of inorganic fertilizer poured onto Chinese soil, only 17% is taken up by crops. The rest is “lost to the environment”. Not to mention the yearly dose of 1.5 million tons of toxic pesticides sprayed on your food, and the coal-burning energy to produce that stuff. What is more, 30% of all fuel guzzling trucks on Chinese roads are actually transporting food – if you could smell the carbon in your dish you’d choke.
Chinese urbanization – the largest migration in human history – has led to the creation of an estimated 10,000 km2 of unused rooftop area in China; that’s a big playground for organic gardeners to counter these problems. There’s tons of wasted organic matter; Beijing alone sends 8000 tons of food waste to the landfills every day and burns another 2000 tons. All of that could be put into compost bins and provide clean nutrients for your food. In Chinese cities, bucket gardening is refreshingly popular, particularly among the elderly. But the potential of urban farming goes far beyond. There are fascinating technologies, ranging from easy self-watering systems from recycled bottles to sensor-controlled automated farms. There is something smart for every space and condition. Urban farming can transform gray concrete into spaces of relaxation and dialogue. It creates community, networks of exchange, a platform for education and empowerment. Don’t wait until governments solve the problems of this planet. If you plant that cucumber, you’re part of a big thing!