Micro-Intervention as a New Approach for Urban Regeneration in Metropolises: A Case Study in Beijing


  • Dongdong Chen Beijing Municipal Institute of City Planning and Design
  • Sijia Chen Beijing Municipal Institute of City Planning and Design


urban regeneration , micro-intervention, smart growth




With a deeper focus on climate resilience and sustainability, many metropolises have developed strategies for smart growth. Beijing, a metropolis in the global south, has faced challenges with city dysfunction due to its large population and rapid growth. However, since the implementation of its Master Plan for 2016-2035, Beijing has set a growth cap and is now moving towards a post-growth phase with limited construction and micro-interventions. This study presents three typical cases of micro-intervention urban regeneration in Beijing: No.17 Guangminglou Residence, Wangjing Walk Business District, and Langyuan Vintage Factory. The study examines how the city manages growth limitations while enhancing the quality of the living environment. It is based on our long-term collaboration with the Beijing municipal government and interviews with over 200 cases since 2021.

No.17 Guangminglou Residence is a three-story multi-family apartment building located within Beijing’s second ring road. Constructed in the 1960s, the building had partially cracked by 2020. Instead of demolishing the building and relocating the residents, as was done in the 2000s, the current approach is to restore it to its original state. The unit type has been improved by adding a single floor, which now provides each household with an individual bathroom instead of the previous arrangement where five households shared one. The project received joint financing from the local government, developer, and residents, all of whom benefited from the appreciation of the land value. Through this regeneration process, residents were able to avoid displacement, and there were no increases in traffic or negative environmental impacts on the neighborhood. The intervention was kept to a minimum.

Wangjing Walk was once a dilapidated business district consisting of a 380-meter road and commercial buildings on both sides owned by Vanke and Fangheng. The district was revitalized through collaboration between the local government, enterprises, and tenants. The Wangjing neighborhood authority advocated for the renovation, while Vanke led the repair of the middle road and municipal facilities. Tenants upgraded their storefronts, and Fangheng renovated its façade and interior. Vanke provided targeted business upgrades based on a comprehensive investigation of residences, workers, and tenants. The renovated district is now more inclusive and accessible, offering improved services for the predominantly international demographics of the Wangjing neighborhood.

Langyuan Vintage is an example of a factory regeneration project. Located in the heart of Beijing’s CBD, the factory was acquired by Beijing Capital Group in 2009. Rather than demolishing it and building skyscrapers, the developer chose to preserve this low-density industrial park. This space has undergone a transformation through intricate design, enabling it to provide various functions, including theaters, bookstores, zen spaces, cafes, and co-working spaces for the culture and entertainment industries, without the need for extensive development. It has become a favored destination for CBD employees to relax after work.

Micro-interventions to improve the quality of the living environment have become a significant trend in Beijing's urban regeneration. In the future, this trend will continue to expand and contribute to the overall improvement of more neighborhoods, from individual points to entire areas. We are committed to promoting this post-growth urban regeneration movement.