The danwei (work unit) and the People’s Commune (collective unit) are the two socio-political, economic and spatial models that profoundly restructured Chinese society in the Maoist era. From the 1950s to 1980s, China imposed on its population a mandatory industrialisation and collectivisation through an urban danwei system and rural commune system. Starting with the Great Leap Forward, its aim was a social and spatial reorganisation that was to strengthen the new socialist People’s Republic of China and realise Chinese modernity. Thus, coinciding with all-encompassing institutionalisation and new modes of production and governance, the two ‘collective forms’ created a radical change in scale and organisation, and redefined the relationships between workers, peasants and state. Laying the foundations to today’s urban and rural China, their impacts are still visible and real.

This Visiting School will examine the danwei and People’s Commune in depth. We will study their historical and contemporary spatial design and their relations to social practices, governmental structures and economic organisation. Reviewing their conception as social projects and the social realities they produced, we will discuss their legacies for discourses in architecture and urban design.

The Visiting School is organised in collaboration with local scholars and students, and takes place in Wuhan at the Huazhong University of Science & Technology. Participants will have the opportunity to be part of a symposium held at the end of the Visiting School and contribute to later publication and/or exhibition.


poster of Hongqi People's Commune, Shanghai

 Poster title: The People’s Communes are Good. [人民公社好]
A typical example of political propaganda depicting  a glossy image of life in the countryside.
Designer: Guangting Rui (芮光庭), 1958
Publisher: Shanghai Educational Publishing House



中国城乡的集体形制 – 单位大院与人民公社


单位大院和人民公社是毛泽东时代的社会、政治、经济与空间模型,他们从根本上重组了当时的中国社会 。从20世纪50年代到80年代,通过城市的单位制度和农村的公社制度,中国政府对其人口实行了强制性的工业化与集体化 。这两个模型推动了社会和空间的全面重组,带 来了全方位的制度化和新的生产与管理的模式。空间组织方式与尺度上根本性变化重新定义了当时工人,农民与国家之间的关系。单位大院与人民公社由此奠定了当今中国城乡的社会与空间机制,其影响在当代中国仍然真实可见。




本次访校由英国建筑联盟学院在职资深导师Dr. Sam Jacoby和在读博士研究生程婧如组织与发起。Dr. Jacoby在AA任教超过十年,为AA建筑与城市设计硕士课程(M.Phil in Architecture and Urban Design)的联合创始人与现任总负责人。本次AA武汉访问学校不仅仅是一次重新审视几乎被中国人自己遗忘的中国空间历史的机会,也是深入了解AA教学理念与体系的一个难能可贵的契机。


1_Beijing Urban Planning 1954

 Rendering of masterplan for parts of Beijing by the Huabei Zhishu Sheji Gongsi.
Source: Beijing Urban Planning 1954