Layout of Lilong

Lilong( or Long Tang) is a unique Shanghaiese community and housing style. The word "Li Long" itself means lanes in Chinese. The neighborhood I grew up at was a group of houses connected by a main lane and several side lanes.

(wikipedia for Lilong:

(picture from internet)

(picture from internet)

Here's some data, probably not accurate, just my memory and guess:

* The usable space of each house was about 30-40m² (approximately 300-400 square feet) or smaller.

*The number of residents in each house was about 6-12 or more. Usually 2-3 related families shared one house.

It was not easy for so many people: old and young, woman and man, to live in such a small space altogether. And all the neighbors were just one wall away or one lane away from each other.

Before thinking about things like dignity or privacy or quality, people needed to first think about how to live. They didn't have nearly enough space for basic daily use.

So they started to use the lanes as more than a path. At first people were doing all kinds of housework out in the lane: cooking on the portable coal stove, doing dishes in the outdoor sink, hanging wet clothes on the bamboo rack.

Later, people start to officially occupy lanes as their own space by building up walls. My parents built a kitchen when I was about 10, and they were not the first one to do so.

The narrow lanes thus got even narrower and narrower. In rainy days when I was walking in the side lane, my umbrella sometimes got caught by the walls.

I'll talk more about Lilong in the future pictures.

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