Do we still need old urban areas? What are their real values? Tourism, or culture? What
kind of old urban areas do we need? Which part of the long history do they have to
reproduce? What kind of functions do they have to have? All these questions seem to
make the topic of urban redevelopment a mission impossible.
Since 1911, China's pace towards modernization was expedited with the help of
increasing influences from western countries. Cities and buildings have experienced
earth-shaking changes. From the architecture's point of view, the changes witnessed
by buildings and cities during the past 100 years are much more than the changes
during the 5000 years of history. In the modernization process of the past 100 years,
regionalism and nationalism have been under heavy impacts that they have never seen
before from the singular global language. They either withered away, or were absorbed,
or were transformed, or were luckily retained. In this historical movement, most of
the old urban areas in China have been completed replaced by quickly built but cheap
and "modernized" cities. Even those which survived have been made "cultural relics",
theme parks, or have been "ignored" and thrown to the corner as a hot potato, ignored.
The future for them is unknown.
Our attitudes decide what we do. We are not against "cultural relics" or "theme
parks", but we will not just be sitting there and watching the old urban areas being
turned into elite spaces, or roughly built and low-budget fast food cities. Old urban
areas do need modernization, and modern facilities as well as modern spaces which can
carry the culture and spirit of the old urban areas. This kind of modern spaces could be
"foreign languages to Chinese" or "Chinese to foreign languages" from the appearance,
but the core must belong to the local, to the history, and to the time. We have selected
six collections of works from architects and artists, trying to display, from diversified
aspects, the various attitudes and methods to the subject of urban redevelopment.