Dashilar: Housing In-between

Dashilar: Housing In-between

Dashilar: Housing In-between is a collaborative forum and exhibition event organized by Studio X and Dashilar Platform for Beijing International Design Week 2015. Curated by Jeffrey Johnson (Studio X Beijing), Yijing Xu and Neill Mclean Gaddes (SANS, Dashilar Platform) with support from Columbia University GSAPP, Dashilar Platform and Beijing International Design Week.

‘Housing’ is a basic human necessity and has always been a critical subject of discussion around the world. With growing awareness of the gross inequalities created by neoliberal economies, significant attention has been placed recently on the housing conditions of those less privileged and marginalized.

From feudalism to socialism to neoliberal market economy, over the past century the traditional Hutong neighbourhoods of Beijing had gone through radical social, cultural and spatial transformations induced by the shifting of national political and economic paradigms. Under Deng Xiaoping’s economic reform, a large influx of rural-to-urban migrant workers have arrived in cities throughout China, posing new challenges in accommodating them.

In Beijing, many of those new urban inhabitants have found residency in the traditional Hutong neighborhoods, often replacing locals of their own generation migrating to newer, better served areas around the city. This has led to a concentration of marginalized communities – migrants and the elderly – within Beijing’s Hutong neighborhoods. The easing of national household registration policies, and the accompanying rights, as well as increased property rights for residents since 2011 has done much to empower those communities, and their continued existence is a testament to the community’s resilience. However, more investment is required to improve living conditions, and Dashilar – with one of the highest population densities in Beijing – is no exception.

The current situation in Dashilar is complex, and often, as soon as solutions are piloted both society and the economy have moved on. Ten years ago the threat was top-down development and urban renewal. Now, social and market forces at a granular level threaten authenticity. Yet, is this simply a threat to “preservation” of the old city, or is it an existential threat to life in the Hutong? Furthermore, how should Dashilar balance its future evolution with the preservation of its heritage and historical identity?

Operating within Beijing’s volatile property market, what Dashilar requires today is a strategy for bottom-up renewal of its residential housing stock that is sustainable, meets the expectations of residents, and does not create conflict. Unfortunately, many of the current discussions and debates are limited by more traditional and quantifiable definitions of informality. We hope that by focusing the debate on a specific case – Dashilar – we can redefine the terms of discourse and create a platform for expanding the discussion around the critical challenges confronting housing in the contemporary city today.

I. Exhibition

Exhibition On View: September 23 - October 7, 2015. Daily 10:00-18:00 Exhibition Address: 122 Yangmeizhu Xiejie, Dashilar, Xicheng District, Beijing FREE WALK-IN ENTRY

Taking place in a vacant yet intimate former domestic residence in Dashilar, the temporary pop-up exhibition features film screening, installation, photography, and graphics by an ensemble of local and international artists, including Concrete Flux (Solveig Suess), Matjaž Tančič, Cai Yuanhe & Yuan Su, Li Peifeng, CUDI (Creative Urban Development Institute,) Matthew Niederhauser and John Fitzgerald. Their work meaningfully engages with the local inhabitants and neighbourhood, exploring themes about lives in-between staying and leaving, migration and adaptation. Through the dialogue between the “informal” living space and the exhibits, we hope to express “in-between” not merely as a spatial condition but also as a state of mind, and ask how this notion can be altered and pivoted as a strategy for sustainable development.

II. Forum

Forum Time: September 26, 2015, 13:00-17:30 Forum Address: Quan Ye Chang 1F Octagonal Atrium, Dashilar, Xicheng District, Beijing. Real-time language interpretation (EN/CN) will be made available. (ID required) FREE ENTRY; RSVP REQUIRED: Please reserve seating on https://www.eventbrite.com/edit?eid=18598248863#.

Hosts Jeffrey Johnson (Director, Asia Megacities Lab / Studio-X Beijing, Curator) Yijing Xu (Co-founder, SANS / Dashilar Platform, Curator) Neill Mclean Gaddes (Co-founder, SANS / Dashilar Platform, Curator)

Forum Sessions *Subject to minor changes

Session 1: Dwelling & Community (Chinese)

What are some of the most pressing issues regarding housing in Dashilar? Is the primary drive for space - where space is a commodity - hindering efforts for real improvements in living conditions for residents in places like Dashilar? When communities are constantly changing, and established modes of community representation do not react fast enough, how does participation in urban renewal occur?

Respondent: Jia Rong (Executive Director, Dashilar Project & Dashilar Platform)
Guest Speakers: Zhang Ke (Founder, Standard Architecture) Dr. Wang Yun (Vice-Dean, College of architecture and landscape architecture of Peking University; Founding Partner / Chief Architect, Atelier Fronti) Shi Jian (Architecture Critic and Curator; Planning Director, Is Reading Culture) Dr. Shen Yuan (CASS, Professor, Deputy Chair, Department of Sociology, Tsinghua University)

Session 2: Preservation & Identity (English)
What are the ramifications of preservation and cultural identity in the context of a living, dynamic community? How do actual identities of communities react to preservation efforts? How are these actions be exploited by the market, and if so is this to the benefit or determent of the communities involved?

Respondent: Jorge Otero-Pailos (Associate Professor, Columbia University, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation)

Guest Speakers: Wang Shuo (Principal, META-Project) Kuanghan Li (China Program Director, Global Heritage Fund) Fang Zhenning (Artist, Architecture and Art Critic, Freelance Writer)

Session 3: Knowledge & Optionality (English)
Apart from leaving, or continuing with the status quo, what other options are open to communities and individuals within changing spaces like Dashilar? To provide more options and agency, how do we transfer knowledge to the actors who need it most, and who should provide that knowledge?

Respondent: Amale Andraos (Dean, Columbia University, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation)
Guest Speakers: Dr. Tat Lam (CUHK Professor, Co-founder and CEO of Shanzhai City™) Andrew Bryant (Founding Partner, Creative Urban Development Institute, exhibition participant) James Shen (Co-founder, People’s Architecture Office and People’s Industrial Design Office)



Dashilar Platform + Studio X Columbia University GSAPP


Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation + Columbia University Global Centers (East Asia)

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Cite: "Dashilar: Housing In-between" 21 Sep 2015. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/774024/dashilar-housing-in-between> ISSN 0719-8884

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