The other Tianjin and its concession culture: voices and unauthorised heritage discourses from the local community residents of the Five Avenues

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


After China’s liberation in 1949, the Five Avenues, an upscale residential area in the former British Concession of Tianjin, underwent the redistribution of space resources. With the regeneration of this area accelerated by cultural tourism in 2004, the concession buildings were revalued by the local government as cultural heritage and capital for the city to cope with global economic competition. This government-led mode of heritage regeneration and top-down construction of heritage discourse is commonly seen in China, often accompanied by the gentrification of building function and relocation of local community residents. One notable case in the Five Avenues is the transformation of Minyuan Stadium and its surroundings, as the core project to represent concession identity and promote tourism. The stadium, built by the British during the concession period, was reconstructed in 2012 to be a multi-functional building that sells Western-style architectural symbols and lifestyles for tourists. Although the government regularly conducts satisfaction surveys on visitor experience to collect ‘voices’, what has been left out is the voice of local community residents that are living or once lived in this area. However, they have found tactics to speak for themselves. Through online volunteer platforms, these former or current community members reconstruct a social network to record stories that have not been told by formal history.
These stories offer rare perspectives to shape concession buildings as a shared cultural heritage among local community residents, which differs from the heritage discourse delivered by the government. Based on how these residents depict the stadium and how they view the reconstructed new Minyuan, this study attempts to examine the local residents’ views which are different from the state-sanctioned version of concession culture, urban identity and collective memory of Tianjin.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2022
EventAHRA RESEARCH STUDENT SYMPOSIUM 2022: Voices in Architecture - University of Westminster, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 20 Apr 202221 Apr 2022


Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • concession building
  • Post-colonial
  • collective memory
  • Stadium
  • personal history


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