Housing Renewal in Beijing - Observation and Analysis

Zheng Lian

School of Architecture
McGill University

A Thesis Submitted to The Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirement of the Degree of Master of Architecture

Zheng Lian, 1995


My sincere gratitude to Professor Vikram Bhatt, my supervisor, for his doubts, critics and encouragement along the development of this thesis. Also I would like to express my gratitude to Professor André Casault for contributing valuable insights to the research.

I am especially grateful to Professor Lü Junhua of Tsinghua School of Architecture, for her assistance in the initial stage of the study; and to Professor Wu Liangyong, for his guidance through the years.

I am indebted to Chin Ning, without her tireless help in polishing the language and sharpening the argument, the fulfillment of this research is hard to imagine. Thanks also to Daniel Abramson, for his proof-reading of the final draft. To Yuan Xin, who accompanied me taking pictures along the hutongs in Beijing under the hot summer sun.

My sincere gratitude to Professor Noumoff, Department of Political Science, with out his help, I wouldn't have come to McGill; and the Clifford C. F. Wong Fellow ship, which made this study possible. To my friends in Montreal and Beijing, thank you for filling these two years with happy memories.

Finally, but most importantly, to my parents, for their unconditional love and con stant encouragement. This thesis is dedicated to them.

May, 1996

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Rehabilitation and reconstruction of dilapidated houses in the Old City is now the central issue of urban development of Beijing. On the one hand, it relates to the life of 800,000 people who live in old and dilapidated houses in the old residential quarters; on the other hand, it directly deals with the issue of preservation of the image of the old city. Starting with three pilot projects in 1988, 37 Stage One projects have been completed and some projects of further Stages are in the process of being built within the urban renewal program. However, the result is not so satisfactory in fulfilling its ends.

This study is conducted in two main stages: first it attempts to demonstrate the rather complex circumstances which the urban renewal program is encountering. The redevelopment process is examined from the perspectives of political intention, economic limitation, professional dedication as well as concerns of the powers-that-be at different levels. Second, through the in-depth study on the process, preservation of the old city and re-accommodation of the original residents are raised to be the two key issues to evaluate the performance of the program. Detailed discussions are thus held around these two topics.

Efforts have also been made to find where the problems lie in order to direct the change of the political intention and consequently result in the adjustment of the policies and practice. Only then is it possible for the redevelopment program not to deviate from its main goals, which are to improve the living conditions of people and to preserve the image of the ancient capital.

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La réhabilitation et la reconstruction des maisons décrêprès des vieux quartiers est

aujourd'hui la principale préocupation du développement urbain de Beijing. D'une part if faut fenir compte des 800,000 personnes vivant dans les dangereuses maisons des vieux quartiers tout en préservant, antre part, l'image de la ville ancienne. Débutant avec trois projets pilotes en 1988, 37 projects "phase un" ont été complétés et d'antres phases sont en voic d'être construites, dans le programme de renouvellement urbain. Toute fois, le resultat n'est pas encore satisfaisant par rapport aux bufs préétablis.

Cette étude est divisée en deux étapes majeures: premièrement, elle tâchera de dêmontrer les circonstances souvent complexes rencontrées par le programme de renouvellement urbain. Le processus de redêveloppement sera examinê dans une perspective d'intention politique, de limitation économique, et de dédication professionelle. Deuxièmement, à travers une étude en profondeur du processus, la préservation de la vieille wille et la re-distribution des premiers résidents deviennent les deux éléments clés dans l'évaluation du programme.

Des efforts ont aussi été fait pour localiser les différents problèmes dans le but de rediriger les intentions politiques. De cette facon, il est donc possible pour le programme de redéveloppement de ne pas dévier des ses intentions premières: l'amélioration des conditions de vie des habitants et la préservation de l'image de l'ancienne capitale.






Index for Figures

Index for Tables

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: The New Paradigm

2.1 The First Phase, 1949-1978

2.2 The Second Phase, 1978-Present

Chapter 3: The Old and Dilapidated Housing Renewal Program 24

3.1 A Brief Review

3.2 The Living Conditions in the Old Residential Quarters 27

3.3 Three Pilot Projects

3.4 Initiation of the Program

3.5 The Scope

3.6 The Ends and Means

3.7 The Players and Their Roles

Chapter 4: Implementation

4.1 Stage One Projects

4.1.1 Case Study One: Huaibaishu

4.1.2 Case Study Two: Chungfeng hutong

4.1.3 Case Study Three: Debao

4.1.4 Case Study Four: Hubeikou

4.1.5 Case Study Five: Ju-er hutong, the Phase II

4.2 Observation of Stage One Projects

4.3 The Official Evaluation

4.4 An Evaluation of the Official Evaluation

4.5 More Recent Projects

4.5.1 Case Study Six: Chaonei Area

4.5.2 Case Study Seven: Guanganmen Avenue

4.6 The Diversion of Objectives

Chapter 5: Two Fundamental Issues

5.1 City Image Preservation

5.1.1 A Few Numbers and Facts

5.1.2 Rehabilitation or Demolition

5.1.3 Characteristics of the City

5.1.4 Policies and Regulations

5.1.5 Summary

5.2 Re-accommodation of the Original Residents

5.2.1 On the City Master Plan

5.2.2 Economic Feasibility

5.2.3 Impacts on Neighborhood Community

5.3 Conclusion

Chapter 6: A Perspective


Index for Figures


Fig. 2.1 A typical housing model used through out China in 1960s-70s
(source: Beijing Municipal Urban Construction Comprehensive Development Office, 1994, p.46)

Fig. 3.1 "New city wall" along Qiansanmen Avenue, the first high-rise residential buildings in Beijing

Fig. 3.2 The evolution of Beijing (source: Wu Liangyong, 1994, p.48)

Fig. 3.3 Map of Beijing in Ming and Qing Dynasty (source: Beijing - Preservation and Modernization of Historic City, 1990, p.4)

Fig. 3.4 A typical super block with the fish-boned residential tissue
(source: Wu Liangyong, 1994, p.82)

Fig. 3.5 A birdeye view of a typical medium-sized courtyard house
(source: Courtyard Housing in Beijing . 1993, p.3)

Fig. 3.6 A typical courtyard housing community

Fig. 3.7 One courtyard house with additions which housed 5 households and 24 persons 31

Fig. 3.8 Changes in a courtyard house
(source: Wu Liangyong, 1994, p62)

Fig. 3.9 A birdeye view of Xiaohoucang Renewal Project 33
(source: Huang, 1991, p3)

Fig. 3.10 The pre-renewal condition in Ju-er Hutong 33
(source: Wu Liangyong, 1994, p12)

Fig. 3.11 Ju-er Hutong: the pre-renewal site plan
(source: Wu & Liu: 1989, p19)

Fig. 3.12 Xiaohoucang: site-plan of pre- and after renewal
(source: Huang, 1991, p 38 and Huang, Guan & Shi, 1989, p23)

Fig. 3.13 Xiaohoucang after renewal

Fig. 3.14 Ju-er hutong: site-plan (the first phase)
(source: Wu Liangyong, 1994, p139)

Fig. 3.15 Ju-er hutong: after renewal

Fig. 3.16 Ju-er hutong: after renewal (the first phase)
(source: Wu Liangyong, 1994, p13)

Fig. 3.18 Dongnanyuan: site-plan
(source: Abramson, 1994, p45)

Fig. 3.17 Dongnanyuan: after renewal

Fig. 3.19 Dongnanyuan: after renewal
(source: Tan Ying, 1994, p54)

Fig. 3.20 The distribution map of dilapidated parcels
(source: Zhang Zhixian, 1992, p17)

Fig. 3.21 The stage plan of housing renewal program
(source: Zhang Zhixian, 1992, p18)

Fig. 3.22 A diagram of housing renewal process

Fig. 4.1 Location of pilot and Stage One renewal projects in Beijing
(source: Abramson, 1994, p43)

Fig. 4.2 Huaibaishu: the pre-renewal condition
(source: Beijing Municipal Urban Construction Comprehensive Development Office, 1994, p.106)

Fig. 4.3 The pre-renewal urban tissue
(source: Liu, Yang & Wang, 1991, p10)

Fig. 4.4 Huaibaishu: the site-plan
(source: Liu, Yang & Wang, 1991, p10)

Fig. 4.5 Huaibaishu: after renewal

Fig. 4.6 Chunfeng hutong: pre-renewal site-plan
(source: Dong Lizhu, 1992, p35)

Fig. 4.7 Chunfeng hutong: site-plan
(source: Beijing Old and Dilapidated Housing Redevelopment Leading Group Office, 1992, p18)

Fig. 4.8 Chunfeng hutong: after renewal

Fig. 4.9 Debao: site-plan
(source: Beijing Old and Dilapidated Housing Redevelopment Leading Group Office, 1992, p8)

Fig. 4.10 Debao: after renewal

Fig. 4.11 Hubeikou: site-plan
(source: BJ Architects, 1991, p14)

Fig. 4.12 Hubeikou: after renewal

Fig. 4.13 Ju-er hutong Phase II: after renewal
(source: Beijing Municipal Urban Construction Comprehensive Development Office, 1994, p.107 )

Fig. 4.14 Ju-er hutong: after renewal
(source: Wu Liangyong, 1994, p12)

Fig. 4.15 Ju-er hutong: site-plan
(source: Beijing Old and Dilapidated Housing Redevelopment Leading Group Office, 1992, p2)

Fig. 4.16 The existing conditions in Chaonei 72

Fig. 4.17 The location of Chaonei renewal parcel 73

Fig. 4.18 The existing conditions of Chaonei renewal parcel 73
(source: LÅ Junhua, 1994, I, p48)

Fig. 4.19 Site plan from a Chinese team in 1988
(source: LÅ Junhua, 1994, I, p50)

Fig. 4.20 'low-rise' scheme 75
(source: LÅ Junhua, 1994, I, p50)

Fig. 4.21 'mid-rise' scheme 76
(source: LÅ Junhua, 1994, I, p51)

Fig. 4.22 The location of Guanganmen Avenue

Fig. 4.23 Public buildings along widened Guanganmen Avenue 79
(source: Cai, 1994, p23)

Fig. 4.24 One of the commercial building under construction
(source: Lin Jing, 1994, p32)

Fig. 5.1 The impacts of the two key issues

Fig. 5.2 Height control plan of the Old City of Beijing
(source: LÅ Junhua, 1994, I, p42)

Fig. 5.3 The site plan of Chaonei project
(source: Han, 1990)

Fig. 5.4 Land use planning in the Old City of Beijing
(source: Beijing - Preservation and Modernization of Historic City, 1990, p9)

Fig. 5.5 The "scattered-concentration" pattern of urban development
(source: Yang Zhenghua, 1994, p6)

Fig. 5.6 The price map for housing in Beijing
(source: LÅ Junhua, 1993, II, p31)

Note: Figures without indicated references are by the author.

Index for Tables


Table 2.1 Proportion of all State Basic Capital Construction Investment in the Non-productive

Sector and State Housing
(source: Kirkby, 1985, p171)

Table 2.2 Urban Population and Available Floorspace
(source: Kirkby, 1985, p177)

Table 2.3 Housing Floor Area Completed in China Cities
(source: Lau, 1993, p24.29)

Table 3.1 The Population Density and FAR in five surveyed dilapidated residential areas
(source: Zhang Jingjin, 1992, p439)

Table 3.2 The Profile of the Three Pilot Projects

(source: Abramson, 1994, p.56).

Table 3.3 The Intended Renewal Parcels in the Four Central Districts

Table 5.1 Housing price composition in a Renewal Project, 1993
(source: Liu Qi, 1994, p174)

Table 5.2 Time span of households in Chaonei and Nanchizi
(source: Tan Ying, 1994, p48)

Table 5.3 Age structure of residents in old neighborhoods

(source: Tan Ying, 1994, p48)

Note: Tables without indicated references are by the author.

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