The region to the north of Beijing’s Fifth Ring Road is dominated by Tiantongy
uan, an enormous neighborhood reputed to be the largest residential area in Asia that houses approximately 700,000 people.
The area, which is home to more than 3 percent of the city’s population, mainly migrant work
ers, is nicknamed “Sleeper Town” because a lack of amenities and entertainment facilities mean most of the residents only go there to rest.
Located at the end of subway line 5, a major route connecting the downtown to the northern
suburbs, Tiantongyuan attracted its huge population as a result of its low property prices and relatively convenient location.
However, its dilapidated condition is a major headache for the city and the area faces a ho
st of problems, including a lack of infrastructure, both social and industrial, allied to heavy traffic congestion.
Priced at 2,650 yuan per square meter in 1999, Tiantongyuan was built to provide affordable housing
. Nearly 20 years later, property prices in the community have risen more than fourteenfold to 38,000 yuan ($5,600) per sq m.