Urban Complex: Between Institutions and Space
This research studies hyper-dense, non-planned, and mix-use buildings in contemporary Chinese cities. Growing population density and a booming urban economy have created an incentive to re-utilize more lucratively mid- and large-scale residential buildings that occupy prime locations. In these buildings where the current usage exceeds the allowed occupancy and differs from planned purpose, stakeholders establish self-organized institutions, along with formal governance, to manage the common-pool resources inside these buildings. The research describes such buildings as an urban complex. As formal and informal institutional setups interact to invent dynamic structures for collective actions to address limited common-pool resources, a unique urbanism in the inside emerges. I propose to study such an environment through a holistic lens that takes into account the interaction of spatial organization (space) and existing social networks (institutions). Seeing such a unique environment as a lesson for regeneration, urban informality, and urban commons at large, I aim to speculate potential guiding principles for improvements and reinvention.