Small changes, big differences in old neighborhood

"Micro-renovation" revives community.
Ti Gong

A disused community sports venue that became a dumping site for neighborhood junk has been renovated to provide a meeting place for residents and fitness facilities for everyone.

The conversion occurred in the Siming neighborhood, a typical old, crowded Shanghai residential complex. Tongji University Professor Li Yanbo visited the neighborhood last year and was dismayed by what he found.

“I had expected to see old people sitting on benches chatting and young people using fitness equipment,” said Li. “But what I saw were alienated residents and messes everywhere.”

He pondered the problem of how to create a public space that would revive the spirit of the community and bring residents closer together. He teamed up with the neighborhood committee

To conduct a survey of what residents needed or wanted.

“They wanted space to air clothes and an indoor sports venue,” he said. “So, I designed a retractable cover on the old sports site and installed some clothes lines alongside the fitness equipment. Today, the space functions as public “living room,” a place to dry clothes and a free indoor sports center for rainy days.”

Siming provides an excellent example of how small changes can make big differences, district officials said. It will serve as a blueprint for similar renovations in other neighborhoods.


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