The transformation of Beijing as a dual Olympic city: Growth, post-growth, and the reimagining of the capital

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Abstract

This article employs an Olympic urbanism perspective on the transformation of Beijing’s planning and development. For Beijing, holding the Olympic Games was not just about staging the city – and the nation – to the world as commonly understood. It was also about transforming the city through megaprojectification – the use of megaprojects like the Olympic Games to boost urban growth. The 2008 Summer Olympics played a critical role in growing Beijing in terms of the economy, population, fixed assets investment, infrastructure provision, and real estate development. Rapid but ill-planned growth within a decade exacerbated many pre-existing problems of the megacity. In the post-Olympic years, big city syndrome became Beijing’s calling card: pollution, congestion, unliveability, and unsustainability. Since then, a post-growth discourse has been emerging, reimagining the capital’s future in the context of balanced, coordinated development of the Beijing–Tianjin–Hebei region. These include the construction of a new city Xiong’an to decentralize Beijing. This post-growth discourse that influenced the 2022 Winter Olympics was a contrast to the growth discourse that had underpinned the 2008 Summer Olympics. Beijing presents an unusual case of holding two Olympics within a short timeframe but under two contrasting urbanisms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalPlanning Perspectives
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Mar 2024

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