Project by
Yi Yu
Master Track
Wouter Vanstiphout, Luisa Calabrese, Michelle Provoost

From Shanzhai City to Maker City – Inclusion of Rural Migrants in Urban Redevelopments in Shenzhen

Shenzhen government aims at building a new image of innovation city, gradually shifting from Shanzhai City to Maker City. This new governmental vision leads to industry upgrading, new class coming especially creative class and space transformation. Meanwhile, the paradigm shift is currently taking place in Shenzhen from top-down planning towards a new wave of experimentalism and grassroots developments. Maker movement is seen as an opportunity for upgrading manufacturing industry and enhancing innovation ability of the city thus 200 makerspaces expect to be built by 2017.

Under this background, urban planning in Shenzhen, the main driver of social-spatial transformation shows strong exclusive characteristic especially for rural migrants which could be observed from its metropolitan vision, regional strategies and urban regeneration model.  Area-based approach is missing in current urban planning system while social and community building is ignored. Inclusiveness of rural migrants in innovation development through redevelopment projects become essential for social equity and vitality of city life.

Research question
How to build a strategic design framework to revise the process from Shanzhai City to Maker City thereby fostering inclusion of rural migrants in urban redevelopment projects of Shenzhen?

Goal of your project
To challenge the paradigm shift currently taking place in Shenzhen from top-down planning towards a new wave of experimentalism and grassroots developments (i.e. makers city) by developing an alternative and inclusive approach to urban development.

Design Description
The design outcome of the research will be a design framework for urban redevelopment based on maker movement. The purpose of the design framework is a planning tool to establish a link between city masterplan and Shenzhen’s operational policies and strategies. It will revise and translate the city’s vision “innovation city”, regional strategies and urban redevelopment models and identify practical urban design initiatives to improve and quality of public realm and inclusion of rural migrants. It will provide another angle for urban development projects and captures the main principles for inclusiveness of city considering social, economic and spatial aspects. Being a guiding document, the Urban Design Framework does not propose concrete solutions for the future but instead allows sufficient flexibility to manage change in changing circumstances of society, economy, environment and culture.

For testing the design framework, the design site will be Huaqiangbei Area where majority electronic markets of Shenzhen agglomerate in the very center of the city. Scale will focus on the sub-district scale which is used for exploring social relationship and community building. Huaqiangbei is famous for agglomeration of electronic products and rich resource of electronic components attract makers for cheap materials for making hardware. However, used to be labeled as headquarter of Shanzhai culture, Huaqiangbei is also facing urban redevelopment for industry upgrading. It witnessed the change of urban planning but still incubating a great power of grassroots innovation. The design will be a learning process in a  more contextual way and later reflection of the design will contribute to the design framework.