Ambivalence in Place Attachment

the Lived Experiences of Homeowners in Danwei Communities Facing Demolition in Shenyang, China


  • Xin Li TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment
  • Reinout Kleinhans TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment
  • Maarten van Ham TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment



place attachment, homeowners, lived experiences, declining neighbourhoods, state-led urban development, china


This paper focuses on the influence of state-led urban redevelopment on the place attachment of deprived homeowners living in danwei communities that are facing demolition in Shenyang, China. It investigates lived experiences through in-depth interviews with homeowners at the pre-demolition phase. The paper reveals how these homeowners cleverly mobilize local resources, such as strong social bonds among homeowners, low living costs, flexibility on space usage and good neighbourhood location to cope with their life constraints, which is translated into their strong neighbourhood attachment. However, various forms of neighbourhood decline have decrease their quality of life. Meanwhile, they have to move due to the impending neighbourhood demolition. State-led urban redevelopment, therefore, confronts those deprived homeowners with a dilemma concerning their strong neighbourhood dependence and the desire for better living conditions. The impending neighbourhood demolition uncovers accumulated social issues in danwei communities in the context of market reforms and institutional changes in current China, such as the emergence of deprived social groups and their struggles for better housing.