Community-initiated adaptive reuse of historic buildings and sustainable development in the inner city of Shanghai

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40 Citations (Scopus)


This paper explores a unique case of a community-initiated urban regeneration through the adaptive reuse of historic buildings in the Tianzifang district in Shanghai. The adaptive reuse of historic buildings has increasingly become a successful approach which contributes to the concept of sustainable development in many rapidly developing, densely populated Asian cities, such as Shanghai. This study aims to develop a theoretical framework for sustainable community-initiated adaptive reuse through the mixed method of qualitative and quantitative analysis. Data were collected from a case study, in-depth interviews, and surveys. This study also intends to demonstrate the positive link between community-initiated adaptive reuse and sustainable development. This study adopts a four spheres framework of sustainability comprising the social, economic, environmental, and political-institutional concerns to examine the transformation process in Tianzifang. This paper illustrates that a community-initiated adaptive reuse of the historic district has enhanced social networks and conserved an original way of life. As the problems and issues of Tianzifang are very typical of the historic cores of many developing countries, this finding can be applied as a generic theoretical framework to assess and study similar areas in other developing countries.
Original languageEnglish
Article number05014003
JournalJournal of Urban Planning and Development
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Adaptive reuse
  • China
  • Community
  • Historic buildings
  • Sustainable development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Urban Studies


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