Chinese chronicles: Shanghai’s lilong between speculation and valorization
Silvia Lantieri and Marta Mancini
Lanteri, Silvia and Mancini, Marta. 2019. “Cronache cinesi. I lilong di Shanghai tra speculazione e valorizzazione.” Il Giornale dell’Architettura, April 13, 2019.
In the common imaginary, Shanghai is known for its urban landscape made of skyscrapers underlining its role as global city, one of the main neuralgic center of China – and of the whole of Asia – but it actually dates back only to the last thirty years. If we look at it more closely, the city appears in fact as a profoundly heterogeneous system, result of numerous cultural and spatial stratifications that led to an interesting hybridization of morphologies and typologies.
The contrast between the vertical density and the horizontal city model characterizing the traditional lilong – legacy of the twentieth century, result of the European influence on the construction of Shanghai urban and architectural canons – has always fascinated designers and tourists. Moreover the historical fabric is increasingly placed at the center of the debate: although widespread demolitions have progressively invested numerous neighborhoods, the reflection on conservation significantly increased since the 1990s, becoming a highly politicized issue in a context of rapid urban transformation.