chapter  12
19 Pages

Spatial evolution of urban villages in Shenzhen


In the past three decades, urbanization has changed China’s spatial and social landscape dramatically. Led by a large urban-rural income gap, the rural population have been fl ooding into cities for jobs and better lives. However, urban policies discriminate against rural migrants and exclude them from various amenities including subsidized housing. Outside the welfare scheme, the booming commodity housing market is largely beyond the reach of rural migrants due to their low purchasing power. In many cities, however, the great majority of migrants are accommodated by so-called ‘urban villages’ – villages that are encircled by urban expansion, forming enclaves within an area of formal urban development. The lucrative room renting business in urban villages motivates the indigenous villagers to build as many housing units as they can on their land. Consequently, these villages grow physically and vary functionally, enabling an increasing housing stock and a variety of social and economic activities. The spatial evolution of these urban villages, although having mostly occurred in the last decade, represents a very large share of urban growth and signifi cantly shapes the cities’ residential profi les. Urban planning and management should therefore recognize the important roles that urban villages play within contemporary Chinese urban development.