During our first Zibo 淄博-scan we, naturally, roamed rooftops. First stop the Zibo Hotel, second the Fengjing Huatying Business Hotel. Our impressions? A sea of residential blocks, weird uncategorizable Chinese 1980s architecture, non-distinct towers flanking the city’s main axises and a horizon filled with smokestacks. All very very oldskool orthogonally organized, the Russian way. See Zibo from above.
Zibo 淄博 is a Chinese city of the invisible type, wrapped up on wikipedia as “Famous Industrial City, Capital of Ceramics Production Base and City of Petrochemical Industry” and disappearing from any of today’s rusty urban research radars.
James Fallows, the National Correspondent for The Atlantic, who until a couple of months ago was stationed in Beijing, has been one of the few reporters endeavoring in these metropolitan mirages. With him – “I go to a city I’d never heard of — say, Zibo — and learn that it has about as many people as Chicago” – we shared a similar interest in being Zibo-fied. In “China’s Silver Lining” Fallows has written down his excellent impressions of his trip down to a coal-cement complex while searching for smokeless smokestacks in Zibo.
Zibo‘s 淄博 organization and contemporary image seems unmistakeably the outgrow of the type of cities that were build in China in the 1950s, when industrialization needed to be artificially speeded up. At the time Sino-Soviet cooperation influenced the lay-out of the modern Chinese cities. We have been writing about this issue when positioning this era in relation to some Aspects of (Chinese) Overpopulation:
In terms of urban organization, during the 1950s Soviet designers developed in China an architectural tradition that would reflect the communist era and were according to the principles of post-war Soviet city planning; functional organization, low-rise standardized landscapes, the persistence of the walking-scale of the city, super blocks, emphasis on formalistic street patterns, grand design for public buildings and monuments built around huge public squares.
Fast forward half a century to the Famous Industrial City.
Pictures by movingcities.org
Beijing – Zibo | 北京 – 淄博 | MovingCities