[Field-Homework 3] Disappearing City

Video Footage:

What kind of place you are living in? (video1)

Is it clean and full of green like this? (video2)


Or crowded and dense like this?(video4)


photo6 (scriptOr this)

photo9364,photo9372(scriptHave you ever seen housing estate like this?)

9369, 9368,9367,9365 script: This is an old housing region, located in the old town of the city. The old, the center.There is no safeguard, or garden, or even flat road and wide street.

9373 and 9387 left and right(script: Compared with the environment of a modern housing estate, that clean and full of light, when you walk in, the hallway of the old one is dirty and dark,, especially at night.

9380+9377+9376 and 9389 left and right(script: Also, it is inconvenient to get to the floor you want to since there is no elevators like the modern one. If you wanna reach a higher floor, like the 4th or the 5th, it could be rather hard.

9374 and 9390left and right(script: Like the modern housing estate, it contains four units each layer.

Going through With the fast development of the society and technology, it is tagged with lower quality and it has fallen far behind the modern.

9367 to 9381

9380 to 9391

script: It seems that the old estate is out of the style in every aspect, from convenience to environment.


What has be disappearing as the improvement of the society in various aspects? video:)

All of the above photos and videos come up

script: It’s hospitality.

People, especially the young live a fast paced life, for many reasons, which leads to a desalination to relationship between neighbors. Just like me, I don’t know who live next to me, and I seldom meet them. So that even at home, I cannot really understand what is the meaning of ‘neighbors’. While in my nanny’s home, they would chat, they would visit each other, they would prepare gifts one another. Just like the old Chinese saying suggests, ‘ a good neighbor is better that a brother far off’. When the whole society focuses on the development of technology and productivity, what we left behind? Should the value of relationship between individuals be reconsidered or reevaluated?

9385 (script: Are we moving forwards or backwards?

Are we moving forwards or backwards as the environment of housing estate improving as time passing?

Disappearing City

Zhang Mengxuan

Nowadays, the development pace of the society as a whole has been rather fast, along with tremendous improvement of living quality of individuals. More of people prefer to move into housing estates with great commuting conditions and facilities with higher qualities. As a result of this change, housing estates, which are located in the old region of the city, would be gradually forgotten even if they are the representers of city center. It seems that nothing worse in the modern housing estate than the old regions and the replacement of the old ones by the new ones has likely been an unchangeable and undoubted trend. However, would it totally be a positive result? This video compares two typical housing estates, the old housing estate, shotted in the Shengping Street and Lijing Community, from various factors. The first one is about the environment and basic equipment around the two regions, followed by the corridors and the comparison of the convenience to reach the upper layers. Last but not least, the feelings of be in these housing estates, which carries the theme I want to express that the progress of the society may also represent the degradation of relationship between neighbors as many would choose a fast-paced life in the modern city, leading to the lessened time for individuals to communicate with the neighbors. To be specific, the commuting time of residents in the same floor would vary, so one would have fewer chances to meet their neighbors. Besides, people have less time to have a pink tea or simply do some social activities. All of these factors cause the commonly acknowledged social issue, which is the frozen relations among neighbors.

The idea of structure comes from a policy released several months ago, which claims that the government would subsidize the old housing estate to build elevators. The moment I saw it, I realize that I ignored the old housing estate, which is also a part of the whole city, even could say that it is a stronger symbol to represent the city culture. It reminds me of the environment I am living in and the convenience I am enjoying. At first, I simply decided to record the fast change of the conditions in the old and new housing estate and make comparisons, so I went to some old housing estates and also the new ones. Amongst those I visited, there are two communities that share something in common, from the structure of the building to the allocation of units. When I visited the old housing estate for the second time, it is a piece of communication between two old women that change my mind to switch the previous topic to hospitality among neighbors. They just encountered in the corridors, stopped and extended greetings to each other, which was out of my expectation, since their homes are even not on the same floor. I just could not stop thinking about myself, I do not even know who is living next to me, not to mention those of different floors. Nowadays, not all of the individuals face the issue but the problem of frozen relations between neighbors has indeed been an obvious social issue, related to the improvement of the living area attributed to the fast development of society. Thus, there is actually something invisible left behind as the society keeps forward.

In order to reflect the strong comparison between the old and the new housing estate, I choose to use the method of parallel montage to organize the video. Specifically speaking, I shot many similar plots in both of the two areas, such as the scenes entering the buildings, the different ways to go upstairs and the environment in the corridors. These plots could make the difference visible and transparent in front of audience. The direct exhibition is able to reveal various factors that words seem to be unnecessary. Another approach appears in my video aims to show the strong comparisons is the shot cut, which I do not apply that much. Similar to the montage, the switch of scenes amongst the scenes would create mass of information and represent similar plots jointly. Apart from that, the wide-angle lens is also used when I do the video shooting. The lens provide a wider sight and better sense for audience, especially when filming the high buildings since it could exaggerate the height or lengthen the space of the architecture horizontally, which creates a feeling of overwhelming. Simultaneously, I use the first-person perspective to narrate the story, so that the audience would be rather immersed in the scenes. Once the empathy comes up, the effect of the perspective chosen could be mostly shown.


1.Background acoustic in the video, Adele, someone like you

2.AlSayyad, N. (2006). Voyeuristic Modernity: the Lens, the Screen and the City. In Cinematic urbanism: A history of the modern from reel to real (pp. 147-168). New York: London: Routledge.

3.Berriman, G. B., Good, J. C., Laity, A. C., Bergou, A., Jacob, J., Katz, D. S., … & Williams, R. (2004, July). Montage: A grid enabled image mosaic service for the national virtual observatory. In Astronomical Data Analysis Software and Systems (ADASS) XIII (Vol. 314, p. 593).

4.Rosa, J. (2000). Tearing Down the House: Modern Homes in the Movies. In Architecture and Film (pp. 159-167), edited by Lamster, M. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.

Mengxuan Zhang 3035898793

2 thoughts on “[Field-Homework 3] Disappearing City

  1. YudanChen  says:

    I really like the parallel montage of the old and the new housing estates, when they appear on the screen simultaneously, the contrast is obvious. The question at the end of the video is also thought-provoking. I choose the same theme as you. We approach the subject from different angles, but in some ways, we have a similar stance. Your video gave me a more complete view of the theme. And it would be better if there were some images to demonstrate hospitality in the video. I really appreciate your work and thanks for your creating.

  2. Sammie says:

    There is a well-defined research question. The video itself presents the spatial findings well and I appreciate the visual design. Perhaps more virtual research can help us understand the issue of housing redevelopment at the city scale and provide more information. For example, what is the demographic of people who live in different kinds of housing estates? What is the pace of the the urban redevelopment? You should also show in your text more clearly what ideas you are drawing on from your references.


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