History, Space and Heritage: A Critical Socio-spatial Analysis on Workers’ Villages in Post-industrial Northeast China
This research project seeks to investigate in depth three workers-districts (called workers’ villages) situated in Northeast China built by the Chinese government under the assistance from the Soviet government and experts in the period between 1950-1970: the ‘Tiexi District workers’ village in Shenyang’, the ‘FAW workers’ village in Changchun’, and the ‘Pingfang Aviation City in Harbin’. In the last decades Northeast China, like other areas of the rustbelt, underwent a setback since Chinese economic reform and opening up. During recent decades, this process resulted in a deterioration and poverty in Northeast China’s post-industrial zones, and with this a decaying urban fabric and buildings especially in the workers-districts. Those districts are however part of China’s resent heritage built with and for a community adding qualities to urban life and place identity. The aim of this projects is (1) to develop a historical understanding of urban and architectural Soviet-style city planning of those workers’ villages, especially related to the collective spaces of the village and (2) to understand the present use from a socio-spatial perspective to reveals the macro-background of the emergence of workers’ villages in Northeast China, and how social activities and private lives performed in such collective space. The project will investigate how this knowledge can be projected towards innovative regeneration strategies based on deterioration evaluation, value assessment and the reuse potential of the existing workers’ villages linked to the local society towards future sustainable neighborhood development.