Anchoring the Uniqueness of Historic District in rapidly Developing International City ------The Governance and Practice of Historic Conservation in Shanghai

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As an international city developing at high speed, Shanghai owes the very modern landscape such as Lujiazui as well as widespread historical area. Such area has been facing the dilemma of conservation and development for many years. Since 2016, Shanghai changed its conservation concept from historical-building-oriented to historical-context-oriented. As a result, in addition to 27 square kilometres of Conservation Areas designated decades ago, the government recently added 250 Conservation Blocks covering an area of 17 square kilometres and various types of historic landscape. Among them are over 3,000,000 square metres of traditional Lilong Housing which are under great pressure of regeneration and thus is the focus of present governance. This paper focuses on the mechanism coping with this dilemma in shanghai and tries to find out in what way can these conservation requirements be embedded in planning system and conveyed downstream to detailed design scheme. Traditional Lilong housing is the unique residence type developed under very special political and social circumstances after the Port-Opening in shanghai in 1843. It was the typical urban landscape of Shanghai in the whole 20th century. As common residential building, most individual Lilong houses are of ordinary appearance and quality. Although, as a type and group, Lilong forms part of Shanghai’s city identity and local character. Until now, most Lilong houses are tremendously over-crowded with average household living area under 20 square metres. The generally adopted brick-wood structure is also badly in need of renovation after a century’s decay. Thus, under individual-building-oriented conservation concept, most Lilong houses are neither adequate to be officially protected nor appropriately regenerated. After 5 years’ optimization since 2016, Shanghai has established an integrated governance and planning mechanism to inherit Lilong’s historic features without damaging the development feasibility. When Conservation Blocks were announced, all the existing planning proposals related to them were required to be ceased immediately and reconsidered from conservation perspective. In the following couple of years, statutory regulation was revised to include Conservation Blocks. Comprehensive and in-depth evaluation of historic context is adopted. The evaluation is intended to demonstrate thorough understanding of historical context formed by various types of elements including architecture, streets, alleys, frontages and urban texture etc. instead of focusing only on the listed historical buildings. Furthermore, the current Regulatory Planning Scheme was also adjusted. Urban design proposals were required to follow evaluation conclusions, present to all relevant stakeholders and reach a consensus. Afterwards, the key requirements of historical conservation and design concept were break down into statutory planning conditions. As supplementary method to the planning system, a series of policies were also introduced to provide incentives in land leasing, development rights, funding and estate sale etc. Hence, an effective and exercisable conservation mechanism was formed. Until now, this mechanism has successfully carried a few development programmes forward. The pilot project among them is the Old North Station Area Regeneration which already obtained a leased land contract with high-density development before the site was designated as Conservation Blocks. It took almost 5 years to adjust design proposals and coordinate different stakeholders. When planning consent was finally got, the scope of conserved historical elements was greatly expanded from 9 listed buildings to an over-all-protected historical context covering 80% of project site. The proposed 10 High-rise towers under lease contract was cut down to 4. This project is the first example in Shanghai to demonstrate that governance and practice of over-all historic conservation is feasible and provides a promising path to balance conservation and development in the next round of urban regeneration.
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5: Uniqueness and connectivity. Al-Baraha: unlocking urban futures
Shanghai Tongji Urban Planning & Design Institute Co. Ltd.

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