Memory | Regeneration

The research investigates the role played by former industrial danwei areas in the urban transformation of contemporary city. Danwei (work units) were urban sectors in China that were characterized by close links between work, residence, and social facilities.

They are the material product of socialist city planning and therefore provide an urban experience that forms a stepping stone between the hutongs of the imperial capital and the superblocks of the present-day metropolis. Contrary to the disused industrial sites in Western cities that often disrupt the continuity and scale of the urban fabric, the danwei have a much closer relationship to the historical, as well as the contemporary city. In modern-day Beijing, the danwei represent a unique experimental field of urban design.

The project is the result of a two-year research work carried out in collaboration by scholars from Tsinghua University (Beijing) and Politecnico di Torino (Italy), with the participation of specialists from China, Europe, and the United States. The main outcome of this research program is the volume “Beijing Danwei. Industrial Heritage in the Contemporary City”, published by Jovis Publisher, 2015. It looks at the history and future of former danwei and presents exemplary strategies for dealing with industrial heritage. Case studies show the problems that go hand in hand with transformation and present perspectives and potential with regard to usage and the urban regeneration of Beijing.

Beijing Danwei_immagine

International partners: Tsinghua University (Beijing)
Framework: “Internazionalizzazione della Ricerca 2013” initiative, supported by Politecnico di Torino and Compagnia di San Paolo
Project time: 2013-2015
Research group: Michele Bonino, Pierre-Alain Croset, Filippo De Pieri, Gary Hack, Thomas Herzog, Daniela Hidalgo Molina, Gu Feng, Lu Quanqing, Li Weidong, Liu Boying, Liu Jian, Lu Duanfang, Arturo Pavani, Maria Paola Repellino, Sun Haode, Zhang Li, Zhu Wenyi

Photographs: Jia Yue
Research drawings: Maria Paola Repellino

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