David Rudlin of URBED was the winner of the Wolfson Economics Prize 2014, announced in September 2014, with the Uxcester Garden City project:
Vision: We illustrate how the city of Uxcester could double its size by adding three substantial urban extensions each housing around 50,000 people. These lie within a zone 10km from the city centre and are configured as triangles with only the point touching the edge of the settlement. The farmland around the city is currently not accessible to the public and of little ecological value. The concept is that for every hectare of development another will be given back to the city as accessible public space, forests, lakes country parks etc… Each of these satellite extensions would be served by a tram or Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) running from the existing mainline station on disused lines and then switching to on-street running to loop through the new neighbourhoods. The housing would be developed incrementally to create space for small developers and self-builders alongside the volume housebuilders in a process that recreates the way that the great estates were built in London.
Popularity: Extending an existing city solves some problems but creates others. The greatest of these will be the task of winning over the existing community, which is likely to be articulate and honed by years of experience resisting development. We suggest a ‘Social Contract’ that would address the concerns of this community. Rather than a future spent fighting years of ill-planned development, the Garden City would offer the prospect of a clear 40 year vision that accommodates development while minimising its impact. The satellite extensions are planned to minimise their visual impact, to create a green grid of accessible open space and to generate investment in new transport infrastructure and city centre facilities to benefit the whole of the community. The aim is to re-frame the argument by getting cities to bid to be designated as a Garden City as they currently bid for City of Culture.
Economic Viability and Governance: In the absence of large scale subsidy the only solution to the economics of the Garden City is what Ebenezer Howard called the ‘unearned increment’. We are proposing a deal for landowners in which they trade a small chance of securing a housing consent on their land, for a guarantee of receiving existing use value plus substantial compensation and a financial stake in the Garden City Trust. We have assumed that the land will be brought at an average cost of £350,000 per hectare, 20 times its current agricultural value but only 15% of its value as housing land. The economics of the scheme are based on these differentials. We have assumed that, by extending an existing town rather than building from scratch we can reduce the infrastructure bill from £80,000 to £60,000 per unit. Even assuming that half of the land acquired is used as open space, this still generates sufficient value to fund this level of infrastructure spending. By selling the sites to developers at a fixed price and providing the infrastructure collectively, a market incentive will be created to invest in the quality of the housing.
The process would be managed by the Garden City Trust that would be owned jointly by the local councils, central government, the local community and land owners – and their stakes would have a tradable capital value. The Garden City Trust would be vested with the land, would commission masterplanning work and then use the equity of the land to raise a Bond to fund the initial investment in infrastructure. Development would take place on a rolling programme with the early land receipts being reinvested. The experience in Holland suggests that such a rolling programme can procure infrastructure investment three times greater that the value of the initial bond.
We describe the seven ages of the Garden City Trust from its conception and birth through its infancy and adolescence to maturity, middle age and eventually retirement. Over time the role of the trust will evolve as it moves from the development stage to the management phase where it will be structured to enable the local community to take on the stewardship of their neighbourhoods. Rising values over the life of the project will allow initial investments to be repaid. This is not a new model, it is the modern day equivalent of the great estates like Grosvenor or The Bournville Village Trust.
Our model addresses the weaknesses in the system that have made it so difficult to match the quality of the schemes we admire on the continent. We have debated as a team whether we are being too ambitious with the size of the settlement we are proposing. However nationally we need to increase housing production by the equivalent of one Milton Keynes every year. We therefore need bold strokes to radically increase the rate at which we are building and Uxcester provides a model to do just this.
Stefan Al is an associate professor of urban design at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the editor of Factory Towns of South China: An Illustrated Guidebook.
Countless Chinese villages have been engulfed by modern cities. They no longer consist of picturesque farms and fengshui groves, but of high-rise buildings so close to each other that they create dark claustrophobic alleys — jammed with dripping air-conditioners, hanging clothes, caged balconies and bundles of buzzing electric wires, and crowned with a small strip of daylight, known as “thin line sky.” At times, buildings stand so close to each other they are dubbed “kissing buildings” or “handshake houses” — you can literally reach out from one building and shake hands with your neighbor.
Although it is easy to see these villages as slums, a closer look reveals that they provide an important, affordable, and well-located entry point for migrants into the city. They also offer a vital mixed-use, spatially diverse and pedestrian alternative to the prevailing car-oriented modernist-planning paradigm in China. Yet most of these villages are on the brink of destruction, affecting the homes of millions of people and threatening the eradication of a unique urban fabric.
Villages in the City argues for the value of urban villages as places. To reveal their qualities, a series of drawings and photographs uncover the immense concentration of social life in the dense structures, and provide a peek into residents’ homes and daily lives. Essays by a number of experts offer a deeper understanding of the topic, and help imagine how reinstating the focus on the village could lead to a richer, more variegated pathway of urbanization.
Qiyan Wu, Jianquan Cheng, Guo Chen, Daniel J. Hammel, Xiaohui Wu (2014), Socio-spatial differentiation and residential segregation in the Chinese city based on the 2000 community-level census data: A case study of the inner city of Nanjing, Cities (39) 2014, Pages 109-119.
This article reveals that the policies of the socialist era and the initial outcomes of the introduction of a free market, particularly with regard to the creation of new elite spaces within the inner city, have shaped a complex pattern of socio-spatial differentiation and residential segregation.
The paper is organized as follows. Section ‘Urban socio-spatial differentiation in the context of China’ provides a brief overview of the literature on urban residential segregation and socio-spatial differentiation in the context of China, followed by a justiﬁcation of the data set and methods selected in Section ‘Methodology’. Section ‘Results’ focuses on interpreting and discussing the results from a series of statistical analyses that shed light on the characteristics of residential segregation and spatial structure in the case of inner-city Nanjing. Finally, it is argued in Section ‘Discussion’ that the inner city area of Nanjing has experienced massive residential segregation caused by the dualistic dynamic structure of housing differentiation resulting from a growth-led urban housing market and persistent institutional bias with regard to housing redistribution at the turn of the 21 st century.
Intern at the CNRS, UrbaChina project. M.A. in urban local development (IEDES, Paris); M.A. in international development studies (Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris – Utrecht University); B.A. in geography and law (Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris).
Fulong Wu, Fangzhu Zhang and Chris Webster (2013), Informality and the development and demolition of urban villages in the Chinese peri-urban area, Urban Studies. Free full-text on Sage
The fate of Chinese urban villages (chengzhongcun) has recently attracted both research and policy attention. Two important unaddressed questions are: what are the sources of informality in otherwise orderly Chinese cities; and, will village redevelopment policy eliminate informality in the Chinese city? Reflecting on the long-established study of informal settlements and recent research on informality, it is argued that the informality in China has been created by the dual urban–rural land market and land management system and by an underprovision of migrant housing. The redevelopment of chengzhongcun is an attempt to eliminate this informality and to create more governable spaces through formal land development; but since it fails to tackle the root demand for unregulated living and working space, village redevelopment only leads to the replication of informality in more remote rural villages, in other urban neighbourhoods and, to some extent, in the redeveloped neighbourhoods.
Berra, J.1 (2013) Urban China on screen: the sixth generation and the postsocialist cinematic city. Geography Compass. 7 (8) pp.588–596. DOI: 10.1111/gec3.12061
This article will consider the relationship between the city and the cinema with regard to the films of China’s ‘Sixth Generation’, a group of filmmakers who mostly graduated from the Beijing Film Academy in the late 1980s and proceeded to make films on the subject of their nation’s urban fabric. These are films which utilise city narrative to comment on social–economic change, but largely observe such conditions, rather than to take apolitical stance. To explore the urban representation of the Sixth Generation, this article will provide analysis of three works that depict life in top-tier or second-tier mainland China cities: Biandan, guniang/So Close to Paradise (1999), Suzhou he/Suzhou River (2000) and Xiari nuanyangyang/I Love Beijing (2001). The manner in which urban space is represented will be considered, alongside the social positioning of the characters, in order to address arguments made by scholars that these films focus on the plight of the individual rather than considering the wider implications of urban planning.
Hui, Xiaoxi (2013) Housing, urban renewal and socio-spatial integration: a study on rehabilitating the former socialistic public housing areas in Beijing. A+BE : Architecture and the Built Environment. 3(2) pp.1-796. doi:10.7480/abe.2013.2. (accessed 20 September 2013)
Based on the background of privatization, the former socialistic public housing areas in Beijing confront the ambiguity of their housing stock and the confusion of housing management. While they still accommodate the majority of urban residents and are identified by their good places, (social and programmatic) mixed communities, vibrant local life, and diversified housing types, they are facing the serious challenges of physical deterioration and social decline. Therefore, urban renewal was thought as an effective solution seeking to improve the living conditions in those neighborhoods. Nevertheless, urban renewal in itself is also a controversial issue. In order to solve the housing problem, the large-scale urban renewal in Beijing started at the beginning of the 1990s. The radical housing reform further boosted urban renewal, often in the form of wholesale reconstruction and linked to real estate development. The market-driven urban reconstruction resulted in the resident displacement, community destruction, disappearance of historical images and, more threatening, socio-spatial segregation. It encountered the rising criticism from scholars and activists and resistance from the residents. As a result, many housing renewal projects, including the reconstruction projects of former public housing areas, had to be stopped or suspended in Beijing after 2004. Nowadays there is a dilemma for the urban renewal of Beijing’s former public housing areas.
Li, Zhigan1, Wu, Fulong2 (2013) Residential satisfaction in China’s informal settlements: a case study of Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. Urban Geography. Published online: 22 Jul 2013 [Ahead of print]
China’s informal settlements—villages inside urbanized areas—are often characterized by local governments as dirty, chaotic, and dangerous places. This negative discourse inevitably leads to recommendations for demolition. A number of criteria have been invoked in state decisions regarding the demolition of informal settlements; however, rarely are these places evaluated from the residents’ perspective. This paper, following a long tradition of residential satisfaction research in Western nations, uses a household survey to examine this topic in the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. We find that local contexts not only matter, but may be the principal determinants of residential satisfaction. The residential satisfaction of village dwellers is not necessarily low, and most socioeconomic attributes are not statistically significant determinants of resident satisfaction. Migrants and low-income groups are not less satisfied than nonmigrants or middle-range income earners; the most important determinant is social attachment within the community. The perception of being excluded, or lacking neighborhood social attachment, significantly reduces residential satisfaction. No facilities can compensate for this negative exclusion factor. We conclude that demolishing informal settlements does not help to build a “harmonious society,” which is the purported goal of such programs. Removing the social and institutional barriers for migrant integration into the city is likely the most effective way to enhance residential satisfaction and neighborhood quality.
Anwaer Maimaitiming, Zhang Xiaolei, Cao Huhua (2013), Urbanization in Western China, Chinese Journal of Population Resources and EnvironmentVolume 11, Issue 1, 2013, p. 79-86. DOI: 10.1080/10042857.2013.777197
China has experienced considerable urbanization in the past 60 years, especially since the implementation of the Economic Reform and Opening-up Policy in 1978. In 1949, there were only 132 cities with an urban population of 27.4 million, while in 2008 China had 652 cities with a total urban population of 606 million. Such urbanization is attributed to the boost in the number of cities and the urban population. Urban expansion enhanced geographic inequality between the three major regions in China. Compared with the eastern and central regions, western China only has 19% of the total cities and 18% of the urban population. The urbanization rate was 37.2% for the western region in 2008, while it reached 53.3% for the eastern regions and 45.3% for central China. Using a geographic information system (GIS) and statistical analyses, this study aims at explaining the structure and spatial development of urbanization, and highlighting the current issues of urban inequality in western China during the past two decades. The paper drew following conclusions: (1) Urbanization disparities between eastern and western China have become increasingly obvious, but seem to be evolving slowly since the establishment of the government’s Western Development Priority Policy in 2000. (2) Cities of various sizes were expanded in western China, and the main factors affecting the urbanization are population numbers and density, government investment and geographic conditions. (3) Current patterns of urbanization in the western region are distributed unevenly between provinces.
Kern, Abigaïl-Laure1 and Bolay, Jean-Claude2 (2013). Participatory processes in urban planning projects in China: the example of Caoyang Village, Shanghai. In Silvia Hostettler and Eileen Hazboun (Ed.) Technologies for sustainable development : a way to reduce poverty? (pp.209-223). Springer International Publishing. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-00639-0_18
In order to provide the first elements of a participatory process initiated and led by Chinese authorities, this paper will look at the citizen’s involvement in an urban planning project in China and discuss possible avenues to sustain the process in a specific local context over the long-term. Since the end of the 1980s, most community participation projects in China have been implemented in rural environments. This participatory process was carried out in Shanghai’s historically and culturally symbolic Caoyang Workers’ Village, without the external influence of international bodies. Even if some constraints have emerged in the participation of citizens during the pre-project phase, this participatory process seems to have fostered local governance to make significant breakthroughs. It was also the opportunity to reflect upon the minimum conditions to ensure the sustainability of this type of practice in Chinese urban planning projects by adopting the vision of an adapted participatory process.
OECD (2013), Urbanisation and green growth in China, 102 p.
This working paper assesses national policy and governance mechanisms that can influence green growth in Chinese cities. It applies the OECD conceptual framework for urban green growth to examine the potential challenges and opportunities for increasing economic growth through reducing the environmental impact of urban land use, transport and buildings; through improving water and air quality; and through fostering supply and demand of green products and services. The paper first situates the issue of green growth within the nexus of urbanisation and environmental challenges now facing China. This is followed by a review of environmental and quality of life challenges posed by rapid urbanisation. Opportunities for national policies to influence green growth in four key urban policy sectors are then examined. The paper concludes with an assessment of governance challenges and considers potential changes to facilitate economic growth while reducing the environmental impact of cities.
Ren Xuefei is assistant professor of sociology and global urban studies at Michigan State University.
Currently there are more than 125 Chinese cities with a population exceeding one million. The unprecedented urban growth in China presents a crucial development for studies on globalization and urban transformation. This book examines the past trajectories, present conditions, and future prospects of Chinese urbanization, by investigating five key themes – governance, migration, landscape, inequality, and cultural economy.
Based on a comprehensive evaluation of the literature and original research materials, Ren offers a critical account of the Chinese urban condition after the first decade of the twenty-first century. She argues that the urban-rural dichotomy that was artificially constructed under socialism is no longer a meaningful lens for analyses and that Chinese cities have become strategic sites for reassembling citizenship rights for both urban residents and rural migrants.
For students and scholars of urban and development studies with a focus on China, and all interested in understanding the relationship between state, capitalism, and urbanization in the global context.
Zhao, Yeqin (2011). Construction des espaces urbains et rénovation d’un quartier de Shanghai : la problématique de la migration et du changement social. Shanghai : Sanlian shudian, 2011. (In French)
The book is based on a Ph. D. thesis in sociology, Cachan, École normale supérieure, co-tutoring with Shanghai Huadong shifan daxue, 2008.
Since the economic reform in the late 1970’s, China has undergone trmendous changes in poltical, social and cultural aspects. Two of the most important transformations are the urban growth and the flow of internal migration which is unprecedented in the history of China. This flow of internal migration has transformed the urban population.
The objective of this research is to analyze the complexity of relationships between migrnats from rural China and the indigenous inhabitants, who are often former migrants, in the context of ownership of an urban space (a poor community of Shanghai) which is dedicated to the renovation. These issues affect urban dynamics of contemporary China. This research has conducted a thorough analysis of previous empirical research, both Western and Chinese. The close link between migration and the city has directed towards a broader debate, particularly on internal migration and urban dynamics. We adopted the method of micro-sociology and regarded Yuanhenong, a poor neighborhood of Shanghai, as the unit of observation.
The research seeks not only to describe the transformation of Shanghai through a neighbourhood. it intends to show more generally : 1) that one must study the urban transformations from the activities and choies of people who “organize” the city, 2) how the internal migration and the mobility of population are transforming the cities of the emerging countries and how to build the new urban societies, and 3) the need to consider the question of Chinese specificities and its limits.
Pow, C.P. and Neo, Harvey. (2013) Seeing red over green: contesting urban sustainabilities in China. Urban Studies. Prepublished March, 14, 2013, DOI: 10.1177/0042098013478239
The urban sustainability agenda is engaged at some levels with the two concepts of ecological modernisation and urban entrepreneurialism. While they share certain important commonalities (for example, the emphasis on what is normatively understood as ‘right’ policy-making), each has largely progressed on its own intellectual trajectory. It is suggested that the concepts of ecological modernisation and urban entrepreneurialism are crystallised and concretised in the idea(l) form of the ‘eco-city’ through the search for an ‘urban sustainability fix’ in urban China. Although the idea of constructing an ‘eco-city’ has been mooted since the 1980s, the concept remains somewhat elusive and controversial for a number of reasons. First, while its physical form and design appeal have often been promoted by urban planners, architects and government officials, the deeper normative tenets of building an eco-city are surprisingly ignored. Secondly, the lack of an ‘actually existing’ or successfully implemented eco-city project suggests the considerable amount of resistance and difficulties (in terms of planning, politics, economic costs, etc.) that the concept encounters in practice. To that end, the paper examines various green urban initiatives in reform China before focusing on the example of Shanghai’s Dongtan eco-city project (an entrepreneurial urban prestige-project jointly developed by the British and Chinese governments) to examine the challenges and contradictions of an urban sustainability fix in the guise of eco-city building in China.
In the last two decades, expanding China’s urban labor market has gone through a dynamic job creation and destruction, and large-scale rural-urban immigration. The marketization since early 1980s has made great progress in the transition to a real labor market. The author offers a novel analysis of China’s labor market using modern structural econometric models. The book examines issues of the disequilibrium of labor supply and demand, job and worker reallocations, and labor market matching in China. It also looks into the impact of rural–urban immigration on the urban labor market. The author analyzes the economic reasons behind the high unemployment rate in China and explains why it coexists with the shortage of workers in recent years.
Liu, Yang. (2013) Job and worker reallocation in China. APIR discussion papers 2013/01. Read the full text article onAPIR website.