Li Qiu

Document Type

Thesis Prep

Publication Date

Spring 2014


Qui, Prosperous Suzhou, Scroll, Solomon, Hubeli






The thesis is trying to critique and evaluate the production-infrastructure-consumption model that contemporary Suzhou is based on. The model has been set up with the help of reading the scroll Prosperous Suzhou, which, is considered both as a precedent on representation and background of sites. Suzhou is a major city locates in the Yangtze River Delta region. For 2,500 years Suzhou is acting one of the most prosperous city in the wealthiest region of China. Suzhou is one of the greatest canal cities on the world, and it is also called “the Eastern Venice” for its competitive massive networks of canals in the city, used reach 90 kilometers at its peak. Besides, the Grand Canal first built in 609 AD enlarged the wealth of the city. In other words, the city benefits a huge from both infrastructures of the city and the country. Superseding the central Planning politics which was made in in the 1950s, the country had changed her mind to opening up policy and in Suzhou the government followed with planning goals and Objectives and Priority Investment Strategy made good senses in response to China’s needs on national level. Suzhou was the first 14 “opening cities” all around China. This great opportunity started a famous economic model called “Suzhou model”, a mode of economic development first established in Suzhou in 1990s or called “foreign investment economy”. Local government offers a leniency environment to attract oversea capital and provides lands and workforce at a fair low price. In this way, Suzhou had a fast start up and impressive growth in last decades.

Although Suzhou shows a strong sense of “Prosperous” both on economic growth data and images she’s been kept sending out to the whole world, she also has to face the side effect from the mode that she has chosen. This project is trying to evaluate and critic the contemporary Suzhou under the production-infrastructure-Consumption model by comparing with the economic system and connection shown in the scroll. The method engaging this project will proceed by three phases. The first phase is having a comprehensive reading and analysis of the scroll “Prosperous Suzhou” drawn by Xu Yang, which describes a set of coherent scenes of Suzhou in the middle era of 18th century. From the royal painter’s work by the commission from Emperor Qianlong, it’s not only a romanticized story for the wealthiest city of China, but also an idealized society definition via “city of heaven”. The second phase will have a deeper analysis on the scroll by abstracting the model that the representative drawing is based on, show why and how it convinced the audiences that it is representing the idea of prosperous. Then the last but not least phase will move scope to contemporary situation of Suzhou. By producing a new scroll of the contemporary urban narrative with a similar representative method in scales that “Prosperous Suzhou” had used, show how the city is running in same sites 260 years later and why it can be called “prosperous”, or not.

The expectation of this book is to produce a critical scroll about contemporary Suzhou as a diagnosis and at the same time sites ready for future therapy.

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