Redefining Heritage Values in Urban Regeneration:The Creation of New Identities in the Context of Shanghai’s Quest for Globalism | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online


Since early this century multiple urban regeneration projects in Shanghai and other Chinese cities incorporate heritage assets as landmark or attraction by means of de-contextualization and restoration, frequently after rebuilding or even relocating them. Based on a tabula rasa approach, by clearing up almost all pre-existing structures and context, the restored buildings are re-used. This means a discontinuity of the use that local communities gave to these heritage buildings and a redefinition and re-appropriation by a group of new users in a new context of consumerism. This paper studies the cases of Jing An Kerry Centre and Greenland Bund Centre in Shanghai, where heritage buildings related to the memories of Communism, trading societies and Christianity are incorporated into high-density high-end commercial redevelopments located in central areas of the city. At first sight it seems to be a tabula rasa approach, but beyond the heritage buildings there are other continuities in the urban design and architecture on this site that we will also discuss in this paper. The paper will study architectural restoration methods, heritage designation policies, urban design approaches and real estate strategies. By using a grounded theory and approach that incorporates interviews, site visits and data analysis this paper puts forward two main arguments. Firstly, that restored buildings are re-signified according to new narratives in the context of large-scale commercial real estate complexes that surround them and offer new interpretations of the past that contributes to the desired image of Shanghai as a global city. Secondly, that restoration brings the heritage assets to a new pristine state for new users, contributing to the outplacement of low-income groups in the central areas where new values and lifestyles dominate. The cultural capital of these assets re-formulates its authenticity into new political or economic capital for the key stakeholders.


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