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Updated: 2021-08-20 10:22 ( China Daily )
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Aldo Cibic gives his 34-square-meter studio apartment, in a residential complex in Shanghai's Yangpu district, a new look with a colorful, modern and minimalist design. AMBER LI/FOR CHINA DAILY

One of Cibic's major contributions is the revamping of the first floor of an old three-story building in the project lane. Formerly occupied by a fruit store, a hardware-and-tools store and a restaurant, the first floor now houses a shared kitchen, a workspace and meeting rooms for students, residents and startups. Called NICE Commune, the building officially opened in July 2020.

According to Zhang Huaying, Party secretary of the community, the renewal of the alley has made the surroundings tidier and more aesthetically pleasing, as well as allowed residents to learn new things through the many programs offered by various parties.

"I enjoy the fact that people see the value of this community. I've received a lot of feedback about how people realize the importance of the community," says Cibic.

"The integration of young and old residents is vital for the city. We need not construct many new cement buildings that would destroy the community. If you do so, you would lose the value of the social aspect of life."

He describes architecture as being more than just design, but a way of telling stories about activities happening in a place. "Every place has its own soul. I don't believe in styles. I'm interested in how you can improve at different levels. It's not only about the physical beauty, but the beauty of interaction with people."

The project has brought about additional changes through various community programs, such as public cooking, gardening and art, to foster closer ties among residents.

"We see the community and the residents living in it as a source of creativity. We make people-to-people connections through public activities and encourage residents to participate in the community revitalization using their talent," says Lu Zhou, the operation's manager of the commune.

The "living lane" project proved pivotal in learning more about how old communities can be revitalized through collaboration with different parties. Lu's team has since replicated this model to revamp the sidewalks and shops along the Tongji University section on Chifeng Road.

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