Many Chinese cities have former peasant villages ingrained into the urban fabric, that became enclosed as a result of growth. These urban villages are often seen as unwanted side effects of urbanization, and need to make way for high-rise buildings in an attempt to answer the demand for densification and large amounts of affordable housing. As an introduction to the documentary screening of 'Last Days in Shibati', we look into the phenomenon of urban villages in China. How did they come about, and what is their prospected future in light of urban transformation? And are there alternative scenarios to demolition and new real estate construction to be taken into consideration?
With among others
- Brechtje Spreeuwers is Sinologist, working as strategy and business developer at MLA+ Architecture. She is particularly interested in processes of urban transformation in Chinese cities, and conducted research “on the ground” to understand the phenomenon of the urban villages and explored alternatives to current demolition strategies.
- Lex de Jong is a placemaker and urban innovator. With his company UrbanBoost he helps to improve public space by building on- and offline communities and campaigns. In 2014 – 2015 Lex spent a few months in Chongqing to study the Shibati urban village, and the use of public space in Chinese cities.
- Michiel Hulshof is co-author of the book ‘How the City moved to Mr Sun‘, a compelling portrait capturing the dynamics of the staggering growth of Chinese cities. The book unravels ‘the ruthless logic’ behind the rapid urbanization of China in a nuanced way, with considerate attention for the personal stories of those involved and affected.
The discussion will be followed by the screening of ‘Last Days in Shibati’, and the short film ‘The Interior City’.
Last Days in Shibati
In the Chinese city of Chongqing, only one old neighborhood, Shibati, has survived the government’s drive to demolish and rebuild. But not for long: here too, the narrow alleyways are being replaced by vast shopping centers. To document what will soon have disappeared for good, filmmaker Hendrick Dusollier spends several months in the neighborhood. Initially he’s viewed with suspicion, with the locals regularly asking him, “Why film shabby Shibati when just 100 meters away you could find far more positive images to show?” But eventually he befriends two extraordinary people: Zhou Hong, a curious boy who dreams of one day visiting the nearby Moonlight City Mall; and Mrs. Xue Lian, a sprightly old lady who is a beacon of optimism and openness despite the fact she has to leave her “house of dreams”, as she says. Assisted by these local guides, the film paints a moving portrait of a rapidly changing world, where slums are making way for gleaming high-rises, and traditions are equally being dismantled without compunction.
More information and RSVP for the Docu by Night screening here.