Urban micro-renovation based on action research methodology: A case study of Vifengli, Hongkou district, Shanghai

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After near four decades of the rapid development, a number of cities in China have made great achievement. While plenty of the brand-new places are created, many "old cities" are left behind in a shabby condition. Lilong, a typical cultural heritage of residential townhouse with the combination of Chinese and Western architecture styles, belongs to such one. In order to change the situation, Shanghai government has launched the movement to ameliorate inhabitants' living condition in Lilong since 2012. However, the satisfaction of residents is not very high though a considerable expenditure had been spent, partly because of lack of knowledge and experience on how to reach a successful participation. To deal with the issue, the authors engaged in a case study, the micro-renovation project of Yifengli of Hongkou District, Shanghai, with the action research methodology. The project could be divided into three stages of initiation, implementation and perfection. Stakeholders are engaged in the whole process, including the different groups of local residents with different attitudes, local government and university consultant team which takes the leading role. Through the interesting and inclusive involvement at every stage, stakeholders gathered together in identifying the problems, discussing the choice, evaluating the planning and design, taking action and reflecting and continuing to modify actions. The project has gone relatively smoothly although the different stakeholders presented divergent interests. The outcome is desirable beyond the expectation of inhabitants. The study argues that the action research methodology is a meaningful tool not only for bringing out the positive change in the urban built area renovation, but also for spurring the social cohesion.
Community micro-renovation, Participatory action research, Residents autonomy