Project update by Tucker Bryant, Zirai Huang, Mercedes Peterson, Yuxiao Pu
Fantastic Fieldwork in Fugoli + Fenghuiyuan 一级棒的富国里和丰汇园实地调研
Today we dove feet first into the fieldwork aspect of our Land Use Project; quite literally managed to land inside a taxi right off campus, hustling inside before we even gave the driver a chance to blink. Tucker, Yuxiao, Ray and I decided to try out a couple different methods of transportation other than our usual subway rides; this had the twofold purpose of trying to master the Beijing traffic situation as well as experiencing the slightly strange adventure that cabbing in Beijing entails.
We arrived at Fugoli first, a type II residential neighborhood tucked into a nest of streets to the side of one of Beijing’s main avenues. We split up into pairs, with Ray and Tucker investigating the south side of the neighborhood and Yuxiao and myself researching the north. We drew a 500 meter radius around a central structure and surveyed the land use of the area. We travelled to Fenghuiyuan by bus a couple hours later, our second research site and one that was less than 10 minutes away from the first. We switched partners and proceeded to survey the area (a type III residential one) in the same way. We found that despite the fact that the two neighborhoods were in the vicinity of each other, there was a world of difference between the two. Whilst the formal analysis and processing of our data is the next step in our project and will therefore be done in the near future, we did observe a number of trends between the two areas that are a source of glaring contrast. Some of these include differences in the buildings themselves (height & width as well as intended use), differences in the types of services found in the area (repair versus spa services), and lastly, differences in the amenities such as parking and green areas available to the residents of the area.
We encountered a couple challenges whilst we did our research, the main one being that of categorization. Essentially, it was very difficult to categorize certain types of services or commerce, at times because they fell under the umbrella term “informal commerce”, and at times because of the myriad of differences between services offered. Nevertheless, we found that the information we were able to collect was very helpful in the answering of some of our questions, as well as in the creation of new questions that will take our research in different directions. With this information, we can now start to answer the question on what kinds of services are available to the different demographics found in each of the areas researched; it helps to draw comparisons between these selfsame areas and what kind of land use has evolved around them; helps answer and raise questions on transportation behavior, as well as raises questions around price equity.