A redeveloped urban village, Liede is representative of the model of urban redevelopment in Guangzhou.
Relationship between shrine and water is destroyed.
High-rise towers that dominate the space, in contrast to the stone sign that gives a hint of the preexisting rural landscape.
Liede Village is a redeveloped urban village. Handshake buildings have been converted into highrise towers. The dragon boat festival continues in this setting. In fact, the dragon boat festival has been taken into consideration during the planning of the redevelopment – a large area is dedicated to a stepped pier and an large pond is designed in front of the grand shrine, allowing for ceremonies.
However, it is also clear that the design of the spaces is not entirely successful. Traditionally, shrines are positioned in front and perpendicular to the river and rowers climb up a stepped pier into space in front of the shrine. Instead in the Liede Village, the shrines have been rearranged to fit in the corner of the development and their traditional relationship with the main river has been disregarded. The new open pond in front of the big shrine was clearly unused during the dragon boat festival, although it was designed with that in mind (drums and steps can be seen at the edge of the pond).
What was also different about Liede’s Dragon Boat Festival, as compared to Chepi’s for example, was it’s exclusivity. The main public are fenced off from the river and there is a zone that is only for villagers and their guests. Most of the riverside is protected with a fence, so safety is not a particularly good reason for them to have kept the main public away from the river. I thought it was interesting experience being on the outside. Previously I have read a lot of papers and books that talked about the integration of villagers into the city and how to make them become city-zens and yet this fencing off was something on the exact opposite. At this particular festival one almost wishes to be a villager to be on the inside of the fence.
What was also interesting to me was that there are quite a number of foreigners watching the festival. Talking to them, I realised that not far from here there is a residential area where expats gather and some are also renting at the gated communities in Liede Village.