The Processes Behind Community Building and Place Making in Transitional Urban Moments: A Comparison Between China and Italy
Badiaa Hamama, Maria Paola Repellino, Liu Jian, Michele Bonino
The establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the transition from a planned economy to a market economy at the end of the 1970s, and the pursuit of a broader contact with the outside world are all moments which brought considerable changes to the Chinese urban context on various scales. The shaping of the physical environment witnessed significant changes and transitions; however, some urban elements like the enclosure, the wall, and the gate persisted, and their existence is unquestionable in today’s Chinese cities. The concept of collectivism, anatomized from its very traditional meaning, was transformed by the socialist ideology first, and then the market-oriented philosophy later to a tool for the redefinition of the meaning of community and community building in the mutable urban context. Similarly, since the reconstruction after World War II, Italy witnessed big changes as well as the search for an urban modernity and identity, emphasizing a strong link between physical form and community building. This paper, using a comparative approach, opts to analyze how existing urban concepts have been transformed and how new mechanisms and processes emerged in community building and place making in China, focusing on the socialist and post-socialist periods, and in Italy, focusing on the aftermath of WWII till the late 1970s. The new social and urban challenges imposed by the transitional circumstances led to the adoption of alternative paradigms in both cases. In China, comprehensive development and the re-discovery of the human dimension of cities became an important focus, while the re-invention of traditional urban forms and the humanistic dimension of industrialization became one of the main concepts in community building and place making in the Italian urban context.
Keywords place-making; community-building; China; Italy