Guangzhou: the disappearing old city

The game between commerce, history and culture

#1,A place in Liwan District, Guangzhou. On the right is the new building, and on the left is the old building in Guangzhou.

Nowadays, photos, videos and recordings allow people to keep their memories, but they do nothing but help them to make memories.
The world is developing so fast that more and more tall buildings are being built and replaced by the old buildings that people used to live in, which are not only a symbol of the end of the era, but also a reminder of that time. Today, more and more old houses are disappearing all over the world….

Recently, with the consent of the municipal government, Guangzhou Development and Reform Commission and the people’s Government of Liwan district jointly issued the development plan of baiyetan district (2020-2035).

#2,Outline of urban renewal special plan of Baiyun District, Guangzhou City.
Photo source (authorized) 广州市白云区城市更新专项规划大纲 (2020-2035年) (

The planning scheme of the project covers an area of 381.2 hectares, the regulatory detailed planning adjustment part covers an area of 213 hectares, and the updated implementation scheme covers an area of 84.8 hectares. Its main purpose is to demolish the old houses and build new high-rise buildings, office buildings, schools, squares and other public facilities.

#3These photos show pictures of a village in the city of Guangzhou (authorized) by Hunk

Why does the government want to change the city?

On January 27, 2021, the Guangzhou Municipal People’s government first proposed the requirements of introducing industry, education and medical treatment into urban village reconstruction enterprises. Its main aim is to improve people’s living conditions.

According to the previous renovation plan, it can bring a lot of benefits to the residents:

(1) Change of environment: planning and construction of urban villages with high starting point and high standard to realize the compatibility of residence and commercial office
(2) Changes in housing conditions: the old house is replaced by a new house with sufficient lighting, good ventilation, reasonable structure, complete water, electricity, gas, heating, cable TV and other living facilities.
(3) The change of real estate value: the residential houses are transformed into commercial houses with complete certificates. These properties can be self occupied, leased or sold to increase economic income.

Where is Guangzhou ?

Guangzhou is located in the north of the Pearl River Delta, adjacent to the South China Sea. It is one of the first batch of famous historical and cultural cities in China and the birthplace of Guangfu culture. It is rated as the world’s first tier city by GaWC, a global authority.


Despite the rapid development of society, new things emerge one after another. The history of Guangzhou, which has been cherished by the older generation for a long time, is fading away. The emotion endowed by time is so complex and extensive. Nostalgia always affects the souls of millions of people inexplicably. However, in the era of mechanization, especially in today’s digital era, with the continuous improvement of the quality of life, they can not escape the fate of extinction.

Different voices appear: “I don’t want them to disappear, they have the meaning of their existence… Records of people’s memory, youth”

巫小寒(Xiaohan Wu) is a photographer and grew up near the Redtory art design factory.

It used to be a cannery in Guangzhou. It had come to an end ten years ago, but later it transformed into a creative park through artistic transformation. The booming machines in the past have become an ornamental. The rusty walls of the old factory buildings have attracted many people to take photos.

#4. These are photos taken by Wu Xiaohan in redory art design factory (authorized)

However, it did not escape the fate of being torn down
Our city is getting bigger and bigger, but there is no real land left for artists.

#4,But in the end, it was demolished
Video source(Authorized):再见了,红砖厂!这一次真的要拆了…_广州 (

At the same time,Some buildings have disappeared in London

#5,Image by Secret London, under creative commons licence.

The much loved nightclub on Charing Cross Road closed forever in 2009. It was demolished soon after, the most high profile casualty of the Crossrail construction works.

Many local people in London miss the demolition of London Astoria

Architecture is the most unique part of each country’s culture, and it is the symbol and symbol of national culture. But with the development of the times, although people’s buildings are more and more close to the direction of modernisation, in the process of development, they gradually lose their own unique architectural culture, and those large residential buildings that use stone to varying degrees are gradually disappearing. These historic buildings, stone blocks and beams, seem to tell moving stories of the nation and family.

The game between commerce and history and culture continues to grow, which one do you think is most important?

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