chapter  3
Reinventing the home as a private retreat
Pages 24

This chapter examines the new housing forms, and traces the historical development of urban housing in the prerevolutionary and socialist cities. It focuses on the reinvention of the prerevolutionary elite housing forms, especially the yangfang or Western-style residences of the treaty ports, in the new real estate market. Western-style residences that featured interiors sealed off from the outdoors were introduced to nineteenth-century treaty ports such as Shanghai. A burgeoning real estate market was then established in the great cities mainly to meet the demand of overseas homebuyers. The comeback of the real estate market in postsocialist China has reversed the socialist transformation and reinvented the bourgeois or elite home and the yang-fang architecture. The socialist urban transformation also eliminated the concept of home as a private retreat from urban space; it promoted the new concept of the collective home as an ideological construct against the former bourgeois and feudalist homes.