As spring beckons and the plum blossoms blossom we wander Nanjing visiting places of history and of change. Amidst the chilly rains we see a city steeped in the ancient history of the Ming Dynasty and the incredible changes of the future unfolding before our eyes. Amidst the Ming dynasty city walls, we see the results of rapid change, the old houses and neighborhood, making way for what?? As is the case worldwide, Nanjing (and the rest of the country I presume) grapple with the intense urbanization amidst a historic low density fabric. The land prices soar and displacement is the natural course. How to reconcile real estate values, history, local culture, and intense needs for housing, services and more.
Of course historic theme parks emerge as one solution: boutique shopping amidst the restored old buildings - think Nanjing's Confucian Temple Distict (pictured), Shanghai's Xin Tian Di area, Boulder's Pearl St. Mall, Denver's Larimer Square, Most of Venice (sadly) ... the list goes on. Is there a chance at revival without high end sales? Does authenticity have a chance in this rapidly evolving world?
Maybe we can address that problem this summer in the Urban Design studio. Can sustainability be a proxy for a vital, and authentic urbanism? Can design provide provide clues (or even solutions) to the resolution of this complex quagmire? Or maybe we all just need to go shopping more.