Urban experiments in Wuzhen, China

About half the buildings in Wuzhen are surviving historic structures; a third have been renovated or largely rebuilt using reclaimed historic materials gleaned, typically, from cleared sites in Shanghai; and the rest of the tableau – most obviously in the form of hotels – is newly built.

It’s tempting to see Wuzhen as a very skilfully finessed Disneyfication of historic fabric to produce cashflow. But the transformation is actually more interesting than that. This is an A la recherche du temps perdu experiment in a country obsessed by the future, propelled by explosive industrial production.


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