Demolition in Datong’s former commercial area / 大同市原商业区拆迁的过程

In Datong, I have seen this picture since the first day I moved here. Abandoned and partly demolished warehouses in the city center.

Jia Zhangke inspiration, Commercial area, Oct 2015

The former mayor Geng Yanbo had a very ambitious plan of urban renewal for the city, especially for the center areas. Demolition/construction started in 2009, and was not achieved because the mayor was transfered to Taiyuan in 2012. Since then, the place was in-between demolished and rebuilt, both parts still « waiting » and wild grass growing on them.

Broken building, broken people, Commercial area, Oct 2015
Last buildings standing, Commercial area, Oct 2015

This commercial area full of markets and shops used to be one of Datong’s most lively places. The warehouses were mostly destroyed after March 2014, but total demolition was not carried out. I believe it is because the city government was (financially) in trouble and the mayor was going to change again (!). A few days ago however, it seems that the demolition work finally started again.

Demolition day, Commercial area, Jan 2016
immeuble avec lampion
Building detail, Commercial area, Jan 2016
Old « modern buildings » walls, new « ancient city » walls, Commercial area, Jan 2016


materiality of the walls
Old « modern buildings » walls, new « ancient city » walls, Commercial area, Jan 2016
Stairs, Commercial area, Jan 2016
Stairs, Commercial area, Jan 2016
Demolished area back view, Commercial area, Jan 2016

Sometimes, walking around in China makes you see pretty strange things, like these two totems standing in front of the demolished warehouses. No, I still don’t get it…

Totem, Commercial area, Jan 2016
Totem, Commercial area, Jan 2016
Second totem, Commercial area, Jan 2016

The only person I could find in the rubble was a poor homeless guy who was so surprised to see a foreigner in this place and in this cold that he just kept staring, and did not answer my questions about the totems. I don’t think that people living in such a strange place can keep their right mind anyway…

Second totem and homeless guy, Commercial area, Jan 2016

This warehouse building still presents an interesting perspective, even if I would have liked to see it back in 2013, with its large white ceiling…

Demolition perspective, Commercial area, Jan 2016
Warehouses perspective, Commercial area, Jan 2016

In the warehouses, everything was gone except the concrete structure. But some buildings were photogenic, including from the inside.

Interesting building, Commercial area, Jan 2016
Inside view, Commercial area, Jan 2016

There were no stairs to go to the upper floors anymore, only a rope that one could use to climb up there, but with the sound of bulldozers tearing all the buildings apart, I did not try any crazy stunt and left right away.

Sofa in the warehouse, Jan 2016
Former door, Commercial area, Jan 2016

In the pictures below, one can notice the unfinished shopping mall: it is supposed to become Datong’s biggest shopping mall area, but right now, the site is an abandoned work in progress due to a lack of funding…

Totem view with demolished and unfinished buildings, Commercial area, Jan 2016
Unfinished demolition, unfinished construction, Commercial Area, Jan 2016

I’ll write a post about it in the section « unfinished abandoned constructions ».

Unfinished shopping mall perspective, Commercial area, Jan 2016

February 2016 update: demolition complete… except for the totems

During the Spring Festival vacation, the bulldozers did not stop working and by February 14. 2016, this is how the place looked like. Everything was torn down.

fev 2016 4
Demolition site, Commercial area, Feb 2016
New view on the « ancient city » walls, Commercial area, Feb 2016

Actually, not everything: the two totems were still standing! I am now thinking that these two might be sacred…

fev 2016
The sacred totems, Commercial area, Feb 2016
fev 2016 2
First totem, Commercial area, Feb 2016
fev 2016 3
Second totem, Commercial area, Feb 2016
Last wall standing, Commercial area, Feb 2016

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