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Earlier-built Danwei (Unit) Communities: Are They Working Well for the Elderly?

Wang, Jiuyu

The transformation of communities that were built before 2000 has aroused national attention with the pressing problems caused by China’s aging society. Due to limited building technology and poor management, the outside living environments of earlier-built communities have gradually degraded, compared to those of newly-built communities. Danwei communities, commonly built during the planned economy era, are typical earlier-built communities with the degraded outside living environment. There is also a large segment of the elderly population in Danwei communities. In 2017, China piloted 15 cities to help earlier-built communities better adapt to the needs of the aging society. Beijing, in recent years, pioneered its “Jinsong Model” with a comprehensive transformation tool including physical environment renovation, social cohesion enhancement, and financial support. Other earlier-built communities in China have gradually become the objects of community renovation projects. Among them, a worse living condition is found in the communities that had been originally built as Danwei communities.

This thesis study analyzes the existing problems of outside environment of Bajiaolu community, one former Danwei community constructed by Shougang Enterprise. The conclusions of this study are based on observations of the physical environment of this community and the daily outdoor behavioral characteristics of senior residents. My results show the needs of the elderly for better living environments and behavioral requirements on the living environment to be more convenient. By comparing the needs of the residents and the existing physical environments of their community, this study finds that Bajiaolu community is far from offering good service for elderly. Based on the findings of this study, I recommend three strategies to improve the outdoor shared spaces to improve the quality of life of residents in earlier-built Danwei communities in China: 1] differentiate community outdoor spaces, 2] enrich the functions of these outdoor space and 3] ensure that comfort is included as important element in the design of the spaces now and in the future. 

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
O'Neill-Hutson, Moira K.
Degree
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
July 14, 2021