Processes and Pathways for Urban Developments under Transition Economies

Department: Architecture
Research Centre: Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities Initiative;
Active Dates: 1 Jan 2016 - ongoing

Title of project: Urban Loopholes: Processes and Pathways for Urban Developments under Transition Economies

Project team: PI: Ying Zhou


Continuing from Ying’s dissertation „Urban Loopholes, Cases of Contemporary Urban Transformations Shanghai 1992-2012“ (completed 2015 and book forthcoming 2017), the above-mentioned project, tentatively called „Urban Loopholes: Processes and Pathways for Urban Developments under Transition Economies“ proposes to further build from and develop the sub-themes outlined in the dissertation, including „gentrification with Chinese characteristics,“ „preservation via inhabitation,“ and „planned economy 2.0.“ These processes of urban spatial production have been crucial parts of the „urban loopholes,” mechanisms of urban development, put forth by Ying, which she hypothesized to have eased economic transition, fostered creative industries development abetted urban resilience in face of systemic turbulences. „Urban loopholes” are the physical manifestations of what theorists have termed the „dual market,”„adaptive governance,”„institutional amphibiousness,”and other phenomena symptomatic of China’s economic transition. As such, they are the spatial mechanisms of the „Chinese model” that inflect global aspirations within the local frameworks. Previously having conducted detailed case studies on the transformations in Shanghai’s historic inner-city neighbourhoods that have been resilient in face of structural changes and taken on increasingly international vibes, resembling Prenzlauer Berg in Berlin or Williamsburg in New York, the proposed project will investigate developments in newer, more monofunctional tabula-rasa developments for industry and commerce to understand the recalibration of drivers, agents, networks, urban forms to mediate the market within the planned.

Published outputs:

The related project has resulted in the following publications:

Zhou, Ying. Urban Loopholes: Creative Alliances of Spatial Productions in Shanghai’s City Center. Berlin: Birkhäuser, 2017.

Zhou, Ying. “Gentrification with Chinese Characteristics? City Centre Transformations in Shanghai.” In Progress & Prosperity The Chinese City as Global Urban Model, 68–83. Amsterdam: NAi Publishers, 2017.

Zhou, Ying. “Small Scale, Bottom up: Cosmopolitan Linkages Reglobalizing Shanghai’s City Centre.” In Asian Cities: Colonial to Global, edited by Gregory Bracken, 301–26. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2015.

Zhou, Ying. “From Progress to Prosperity: Creative Centralities in Shanghai.” FCL Magazine, no. 2, Urban Strategies (May 2014): 82–89.

Zhou, Ying. “上海中心城区:在全球愿景和本土构架之间 [Between Global Aspirations And Local Frameworks: City Center Shanghai].” Urban China 城市中国 56 (2013): 68–73.

Zhou, Ying. “Urban Loopholes: Tactics of Survival and Manifestations of Desires in Damascus.” Critical Planning 17, Resilient Cities (October 2010): 88–107.



Enlarge Photo: Diagram showing the transformations in ownership, demographic density and functional use of city center residential types in Shanghai from 1949 to the 2010s (drawn and © Ying Zhou)Enlarge Photo: Photo documentation of street front commercialization in Shanghai 2011-2013  (© Ying Zhou)