Theses Master's

The Preservation of Living Heritage: The History and Significance of Workers’ Villages in Lujiazui Subdistrict in Shanghai

Zhang, Dingyi

The thesis reviews the construction of Workers' Villages that began in the 1920s to 1990s in what is now Lujiazui Subdistrict of Shanghai. By tracing its historical significance and its current value as "Living Heritage," the research aims to demonstrate that the remaining Workers' New Villages have the potential to be preserved and utilized, rather than disappearing in potential future urban development. This thesis argues that a People-centered Approach is needed to preserve Workers' New Villages in a way that is both sustainable and respectful to the community's heritage and current needs.

This thesis focuses on three main themes: regional and architectural history, social and spatial analysis, and policy and future development prospects. These themes link the past, present, and future together and provide a powerful baseline for future planning analysis. Moreover, they offer an approach to dealing with such unique communities that is better tuned to their value as living heritage.

In the analysis, the author examines the evolution of worker housing, documents the study area, with a focus on three distinct characteristics of the Workers' Villages - their urban form with consideration of circulation and public space; their communal structure as it is represented by the aggregation of apartment blocks in "neighborhoods"; and the design of the domestic interiors - from its initial state to human intervention and its current conditions and issues. This documentation reflects the evolving interaction between residents and their environment, which underscores the importance of preserving the unique cultural and social fabric of the Villages. It highlights the need for sensitive and informed urban planning that respects the history and identity of these communities while navigating the challenges of modernization and development.

Finally, the thesis is grounded in the current context of urban renewal and reviews the preservation and renewal of another Workers' New Village named Caoyang in Shanghai. It analyzes aspects that can be learned from, as well as shortcomings in conservation management. Consequently, combining the content of documentation and analysis, the thesis advocates for a People-centered Approach based on actual conditions in the community. This provides a potential direction for those who may be examining the planning issues associated with the preservation of these Workers' New Villages in Lujiazui, and perhaps even extending beyond the study area.

Keywords: Lujiazui, YMCA Pudong Workers' Village, Workers' New Village, Historic Preservation, Living Heritage, People-centered Approach, Heritage Documentation

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Historic Preservation
Thesis Advisors
Bentel, Paul L.
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
May 29, 2024