New Approaches to Urban Development in Beijing: The Dashila(b) Experience

Urban development in China’s capital faces the viewers and the researchers, as well as the inhabitants, the public government and the developers with countless challenges, such as the preservation of the historical hutong living system, the much‐needed renovation of long‐ago‐decayed‐areas etc. Up to now the practice has been all but the best. Indeed, entire sections of Beijing’s historical centre have been either torn to the ground and substituted by speculative housing or turned into hutong’s chic neighbourhoods for the few or simply left untouched waiting for the time to carry forward its destructive action. In the past few years the neighbourhood of Dashilar, located near Qianmen gate, which used to fall into the third category, has been interested by urban renovation. However, this time a platform named Dashila(b) has been created to explore and implement new urban development approaches within that area.

In occasion of its visit to Beijing in September 2012, the Transnational Research Caravan met with Siwei Sun, a member of the Dashila(b) team, who has been interviewed by curator You Mi.

Will the Dashila(b) experiment succeed in conciliating economic interests with sustainable urban planning? Or will the intellectual work of – hopefully‐in‐good‐faith – architects, designers, sociologists and art professionals be used as a further cover for urban speculation? We cannot provide you with the answer to those questions, but we recommend you watching the interview with Siwei, as well as check out the Dashila(b) experiment, which at least can be regarded as pioneering in the Chinese context of urban development.