A social study of Beijing’s underground homes
In 1950s Beijing, every new building had to be equipped with underground levels in the event of air-borne strikes. When rural migration increased significantly in the 1980s, these spaces became attractive to newly arrived migrants who used them for housing. Even though this practice is forbidden, a massive black market has developed around these spaces and their uses.
According to the study presented here, the disadvantages of living underground seem to be compensated by the proximity to the city center. On an average distance of 6.2 km from Beijing’s center, these spaces allow a reduction of travel time and budget. It therefore seems that among Beijing’s migrant population, location wins over housing conditions.