Exhibition curated for the 2015 Shenzhen Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture

Dalang is a rapidly transforming neighborhood in Shenzhen with severe social issues and hardly any urban planning. It represents the core of Chinese urbanization. Dalang is located in the outskirts of Shenzhen and is home to approximately 500,000 people, a majority of them migrants. These young migrant workers come from all over the country and are full of ambition, but they also face problems in adjusting to city life and workplace pressure.

Play the City (city gaming company), space&matter (architecture) and Lard Buurman (photography) were invited to develop an action plan for urban interventions to empower the migrant society. These participants from the Netherlands were chosen because of their innovative ways of rethinking 21st century urban planning: they offer a more collaborative approach as an alternative to top-down planning.

Dalang Fashion Valley was chosen as our focus area in close collaboration with the Dalang government. The Fashion Valley measured 0,65 km2 and was one of nine industrial parks in Shenzhen that attract creative industries to the area. It wasn’t entirely successful. The result was an area that functioned as an island with no connections to the neighbouring urban village, empty factory buildings or hotels due to a lack of investment. No white-collar migrant worker was willing to live in these outskirts of Shenzhen because of the lack of facilities.

Da Lang Fever 2.0 functioned as a gaming room where Play Da Lang brought together migrants from Dalang to collaboratively rethink a partly vacant site inside the Fashion Valley. An iconic feature of the site was a three-year-old, but still vacant hotel. space&matter presented possible scenarios for programming the building to empower the self-organizing migrant society.

Exhibition and graphic design: space&matter

5 December 2015 – 28 February 2016: 2015 Shenzhen Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture
Client: International New Town Institute (INTI)

Photos: Lard Buurman