Arts, Culture and the Making of Global Cities

Arts, Culture and the Making of Global Cities

Creating New Urban Landscapes in Asia

Lily Kong, Ching Chia-ho and Chou Tsu-Lung

While global cities have mostly been characterized as sites of intensive and extensive economic activity, the quest for global city status also increasingly rests on the creative production and consumption of culture and the arts. Arts, Culture and the Making of Global Cities examines such ambitions and projects undertaken in five major cities in Asia: Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taipei and Singapore. Providing a thorough comparison of their urban imaging strategies and attempts to harness arts and culture, as well as more organically evolved arts activities and spaces, this book analyses the relative successes and failures of these cities. Offering rich ethnographic detail drawn from extensive fieldwork, the authors challenge city strategies and existing urban theories and reveal the many complexities in the art of city-making.

Chapter 8: Remaking Shanghai's old industrial spaces: the growth and growth of creative precincts

Lily Kong, Ching Chia-ho and Chou Tsu-Lung

Subjects: asian studies, asian economics, asian geography, economics and finance, asian economics, cultural economics, regional economics, geography, cities, human geography, urban and regional studies, cities


Shanghai was China’s most modern city in the 1930s and 1940s. Following two decades of isolation, it renewed its acquaintance with the world in the late 1970s, in conjunction with the start of the country’s Reform and Opening Up. Since then, the city’s economy has grown at more than 20 per cent per annum for many years, and its physical landscape has undergone an impressive transformation. Old buildings in the city have either been restored or redeveloped as modern buildings, while the city has extended, at a great pace, into adjacent areas. Gilmore (2004) puts this transformation in perspective by pointing out that Shanghai has taken less than two decades to achieve a skyline that took five decades to create in New York. This building of economic and physical muscle has enabled the city to seek cultural pursuits. As we showed in Chapter 3, large-scale investment in cultural mega-infrastructure has taken place, made possible only with economic growth and willingness to effect urban change. To an extent, Shanghai residents have responded: the city has a higher per capita cultural consumption than other Chinese cities (Ge et al., 2014). At the same time, Shanghai’s cultural history has provided it with a multicultural personality and also allowed it to stockpile cultural assets and experience in managing international cultural connections.

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