cultural zones (urban)

cultural zones (urban)
Since the early 1980s several Chinese urban administrators have designated certain streets or neighbourhoods where it has been determined that culture (wenhua, variously defined) is a significant element characterizing the identity (gexing) of that area. One important example was Liulichang in Beijing, where the traditional identity of that street and its environs was linked to bookselling, inkstones, brushes and other paraphernalia associated with calligraphy and ink painting. Municipal authorities sanctioned both the rehabilitation and the restoration of the shops along Liulichang so that both foreign tourists and domestic patrons would revitalize the area.
In the past twenty years similar kinds of cultural zones have become fashionable throughout many Chinese cities where, because of either deliberate government intervention, private entrepreneurship or both, selected spaces associated with heritage and history have become fashionable places associated with commodities and commerce.
In some cases these zones have unclear boundaries, such as the Beijing’s Qianmen neighbourhood south of Tiananmen Square where, although traditional handicrafts, kitchen goods and foodstuffs are still sold from famous stores, there are no rigidly enforced guidelines associated with architectural rehabilitation. In other cases, such as Nanjing’s Fuzimiao neighbourhood, the design strategies are more standardized (in this case, historicist) and the spatial boundaries more clearly defined. In other cases, as in the Barkor area of Lhasa, the spectrum constituting what is ‘culture’ is wide and diffuse (i.e. Han as well as Tibetan).
Wu, Liangyong (1999). Rehabilitating the Old City of Beijing: A Project in the Ju’er Hutong Neighbourhood. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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