Shilinyuan New Courtyard-Garden Housing in Suzhou: Residents’ Experiences of the Redevelopment
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Keywords

Courtyard housing
Cultural sustainability
Architectural regeneration
Urban redevelopment
Environment-behavior study
China

DOI

10.36922/jcau.v2i1.530

Abstract

Set within the theoretical framework of cultural sustainability, this in-depth case study examines the Shilinyuan (meaning “Lion Grove Courtyard-Garden Housing”) built in the old city of Suzhou, China, in 2000. It is a modern interpretation of southern Chinese vernacular houses, with private and semi-public outdoor spaces, and a communal Central Garden. The estate is in proximity to the famous Lion Grove Garden, and in walking distance to the renowned Humble Administrator’s Garden; both of which are UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites. The Shilinyuan project won the Lu Ban Award, a national award to high-quality construction projects by Chinese Ministry of Housing. Through an onsite survey, in-depth interviews with residents, key planner and architect, and the author’s observations, the study finds that this project is only culturally sustainable to some extent, the private courtyard-gardens are often too small for family activities. The communal Central Garden has somewhat functioned as a social and cultural activity space, and living close to city gardens is a major benefit for residents’ cultural activities. The findings may have implications for courtyard housing redevelopment in China and cohousing development elsewhere. The study finally suggests two new courtyard-garden housing systems that may have wider application.

References

Zhang D. Courtyard housing and cultural sustainability: theory, practice, and product. 2013/2016, Ashgate/Routledge, Oxfordshire, UK.

Knapp RG. China's houses, homes, and families. In House home family: living and being Chinese. 2005, University of Hawai'i Press, Honolulu, 1-9.

Together Foundation and UNCHS. The protection and upgrading of the ancient city of Suzhou, China, 2002, viewed 15 April 2018, http://www.ucl.ac.uk/dpu-projects/drivers_urb_change/urb_society/pdf_cult_ident/HABITAT_BestPractice_Protection_Suzhou_China.pdf

Zhang D. Courtyard housing in China: Chinese quest for harmony [J]. Journal of Contemporary Urban Affairs, 2017, 1(2): 38-56.

Zhu XD., Huang L., Zhang X. Housing and economic development in Suzhou, China: a new approach to deal with the inseparable issues, 2000, seminal paper from the Joint Center for Housing Studies, Harvard University.

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