Morphology development of Chinese danwei under marketization process: the case of Wuhan iron and steel company

Zixin Zhan, Yeshuo Shu, Feng Song

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution book

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Danwei, a dual entity both in urban space and social institution, used to be an important way to organize urban construction and social production in socialistic China. In light of the Conzenian tradition of urban morphology, this article has taken Wuhan Iron and Steel Plant as an example to study the development of the spatial form of Chinese modern industrial danwei in different historic periods. Sources as local gazetteers, other local writings, historical photographs and existing historical buildings have been adopted to meet the research aims. By analyzing its plan, land utilization and building fabric, this article reveals the changes in the internal structure of this urban space unit with Chinese characteristics and summarizes its development process. A large danwei like Wuhan Iron and Steel Plant is often influenced more by macro policies than by specific operating methods. With the demise of danwei institution and the socialization of its facilities including schools and hospitals, the isolation was broken and the whole factory has gradually homogenized with other regional areas. Meanwhile, cities require extensive changes in order to meet new challenges of sustainability and adapt to new institutional characteristics of urban growth. A large number of traditional workers' residential areas have been gradually replaced by modern communities, commercial squares and public buildings, and the urban building fabric has been constantly mixed and reorganized. Industrial heritages provide "raw materials" for the construction of urban commercial space. The vitality and public services along the main roads have been greatly enhanced. Interaction between large industrial danwei and other urban units is also discussed, which is potentially valuable in exploring the reasonable layout of Chinese urban industry as well as preserving built heritage as asset for future prosperity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAnnual Conference Proceedings of the XXVIII International Seminar on Urban Form
Subtitle of host publication"Urban Form and the Sustainable and Prosperous City"
Place of PublicationGlasgow
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 8 Apr 2022


  • Danwei
  • Wuhan iron and steel company
  • industrial heritage
  • urban morphology
  • socialistic China


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