Beijing (1950s) / One City Centre or More

Right after the Communist Party of China (CPC) took power in Beijing in 1949,  the location of the central administration district is a matter of some dispute: the Soviet advisor Barannikov proposed to build the administration district with Tiananmen Square as the center while Liang Sicheng and Chen Zhanxiang proposed that the administration center be set up in the western suburban area.

Barannikov’s Plan For Beijing’s Urban Development © 1998, Dong Guangqi

Barannikov’s Plan For Beijing’s Urban Development © 1998, Dong Guangqi

Plan Of Soviet Experts for Distribution of Government Office Buildings © 1996, Gao Yilan

Plan Of Soviet Experts for Distribution of Government Office Buildings © 1996, Gao Yilan

Barannikov advised that Beijing should refer to the experiences of city planning of Moscow in 1931 and insisted rebuilding and improving the existing old Beijing city. In his proposal, government office buildings and distributed along the avenue from Dongdan to Fuyoujie, passing Tiananmen Square. Putting the administration centre there is to put the city centre around the Tiananmen Square. He even already imagined it as “a venue for the military parade and the mass demonstration during the ceremony to inaugurate the People’s Republic of China.” The proposal is to a certain extent politically driven and unfortunately feeds into the heroic fantasy of some politicians.

Sketch Map of the Basic Work and Residential Zones in Relation to Old Beijing © 1986, Liang Sicheng

Sketch Map of the Basic Work and Residential Zones in Relation to Old Beijing © 1986, Liang Sicheng

The New Administration District in Relation to Old Beijing © 1986, 北京建设史书编辑委员会编辑部

The New Administration District in Relation to Old Beijing © 1986, 北京建设史书编辑委员会编辑部

Function Distribution:

1.Workers’ residential zone   2. Factories   3. Mentougou   4. Factories   5.Shijingshan residential zone   6.Recreation and convalescing zone   7. Qinglongqiao   8.Residential zone   9.Cadres’ residential zone   10. Residential zone   11. Workers’ residential zone   12. Wanping   13. Industrial zone   14. Changxindian   15. to Hankou   16. to Nankou   17. Qinghe   18. School zone   19. Schools’ residential zone   20. Experimental farming zone   21. Cadres’ residential estates   22. Residential zone   23. Residential zone   24. Residential zone   25. Residential or administration zone 26. Space reserved for expansion   27. Administration district   28. Residential zone   29. Residential zone   30. Forbidden City   31. Residential zone   32. Workers’ residential zone   33. Shopping zone   34. Business district   35. Railway station   36. Shopping zone  37. Residential zone   38. Handicraft shops   39. Workers’ residential zone   40. Warehouses   41. Fengtai   42. Rolling stock plant   43. Residential zone   44. Residential zone   45. to Tianjin   46. Workers’ residential zone   47. Warehouses   48. Industrial zone   49. Industrial zone   50. to Tongzhou   51. Farmland   52. Industrial Zone   53. Workers’ residential zone   54. Green spots   55. Workers’ residential zone   56. Daxing

The “Liang-Chen Proposal”  urges developing the western suburbs as the new urban center, for they care more about the preservation of the ancient capital rather than political symbolism. According to their sketch plan, the city have three related city centers, each performing different urban functions: the walled old Beijing serves as the cultural centre, the administration district to its west serves as New China’s political center and the business district to its south serves as a modern metropolis. The split of city centers and urban functions is supposed to be a solution to overpopulation, traffic jam and  housing shortage within the old city.

 

References:

Dong, G. (1998). Strategic Thoughts on Beijing’s City Planning. Beijing: Beijing, p.China Construction Industry Press.

Gao, Y. (1996). Collected Research Papers on Liang Sicheng’s Academic Thinking. Beijing: China Construction Industry Press.

Vol. IV of Selected Works of Liang Sicheng. (1986). Beijing: China Construction Industry Press.

北京建设史书编辑委员会编辑部, (1986). Beijing’s Urban Construction since the Birth of New China. Michigan: University of Michigan Press.

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