Category Archives: Architecture

Peri-urban development and the Shanghai master plan 1999-2020

He, Jinghuan. (2015) Evaluation of plan implementation: Peri-urban development and the Shanghai master plan 1999-2020. Architecture and the Built Environment, 2. 262 p.

cover_article_851_en_USSince the 1980s China has experienced unprecedented urbanisation as a result of a series of reforms promoting rapid economic development. Shanghai, like the other big cities along China’s coastline, has witnessed extraordinary growth in its economy and population with industrial development and rural-to-urban migration generating extensive urban expansion. Shanghai’s GDP growth rate has been over 10 per cent for more than 15 years. Its population in 2013 was estimated at 23.47 million, which is double its size in 1979. The urban area enlarged by four times from 644 to 2,860 km2 between 1977 and 2010.

Such demanding growth and dramatic changes present big challenges for urban planning practice in Shanghai. Plans have not kept up with development and the mismatch between the proposals in plans and the actual spatial development has gradually increased, reaching a critical level since 2000. The mismatch in the periurban areas is more notable than that in the existing urban area, but there has not been a systematic review of the relationship between plan and implementation. Indeed, there are few studies on the evaluation of plan implementation in China generally. Although many plans at numerous spatial levels are successively prepared and revised, only few of them have been evaluated in terms of their effectiveness and implementation.

This particularly demanding context for planning where spatial development becomes increasingly unpredictable and more difficult to influence presents an opportunity to investigate the role of plans under conditions of rapid urbanisation. The research project asks to what extent have spatial plans influenced the actual spatial development in the peri-urban areas of Shanghai? The research pays particular attention to the role of the Shanghai Master Plan 1999-2020 (Plan 1999). By answering the main research question this study seeks to contribute to a better understanding of present planning practice in Shanghai from a plan implementation perspective, and to establish an analytical framework for the study of the role of plans that fits the Chinese context. The findings may also help planners, policy makers and private developers to adjust urban planning within the implementation process in order to meet planning objectives at different levels.

The evaluation of plan implementation can be divided into peformance-based and performance-based approaches Conformance approaches focus on the direct linkage (i.e. level of conformity) between the plans and spatial outputs (Laurian et al., 2004; Tian & Shen, 2011). Performance approaches are concerned more with outcomes and the role of the plan in the urban development process (Barrett & Fudge, 1981; Faludi, 2000). Both of these approaches are employed in this research to evaluate the implementation of the Plan 1999. I firstly examine the level of conformity between the Plan 1999 and the overall peri-urban structure at the metropolitan level. I then use examples of specific areas (North Jinqiao Export Processing Zone and Xinmin Development Area) to evaluate performance of the Plan 1999.

The study also takes a diachronic approach, which looks at how relationships between variables change over time in the implementation of the Plan 1999. That is because the performance of plans is influenced by deeper-seated reasons such as the changing institutional context, particularly the levels of interaction between involved actors in the land development processes. As such, the changing planning system in Shanghai and the history of Shanghai’s peri-urban development in the second half of the 20th century are reviewed before the conformance-based and performance-based evaluation.

This research leads to three major findings. First, peri-urban areas have played an increasingly important role in Shanghai’s urbanisation process through accommodating the rapidly increasing population and demands for growth. Such extensive peri-urban development was not guided by the Plan 1999. It is not surprising that plans are left behind in the context of such unprecedented growth, but the pilot programmes and the key projects proposed in the Plan 1999 were implemented with a high level of conformance. However, the Plan 1999 performed differently in local urban projects, with varying degrees of project conformity, development process and development timing.

Second, there was variation in the delivery of the main objectives to the subsequent urban plans, the consistency between the Plan 1999 and the related sector plans, the ways of interaction between involved actors and their reactions to the plan, and the methods of land development. Overall, the Plan 1999 performed better in the case of North Jinqiao Export Processing Zone because the governments (at both national and municipal levels) intervened more in the development process, compared with the case of Xinmin Development Area. The performance of the plan is closely related to the level of conformity between the plan and the actual development. Therefore, although the conformance-based and performance-based approaches to implementation can be separated conceptually, they are very interconnected in practice.

Third, the urban planning system in Shanghai has experienced a structural reorganization in terms of the system of plans, the involved actors and the planning instruments since the late 1980s. But the emphasis on the rational technocratic process used in the 1960s in the western society is still predominant in the planning system in Shanghai. Aside from the demanding urban growth, the other reason of non-conformance between the actual peri-urban development and the Plan 1999 and bad performance of the Plan 1999 in local projects is a big gap between the seemingly rational operation of the urban planning system and the reality of external challenges.

The current planning system lacks proper coordination with the external challenges, such as insufficient investigation of the existing circumstance or history, and ineffective planning instruments. Cooperation between involved actors is also largely absent in planning practice. Overall, urban planning and management in Shanghai could benefit from more recognition and monitoring of plan implementation which would lead to some reconsideration of the planning tools and processes to more effectively guide future urban development.

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Monique Abud

Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Eco-cities and the transition to low carbon economies

Caprotti, Federico (2014). Eco-cities and the transition to low carbon economies. Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan. 136 p. ISBN : 9781137298751 (Hardcover) / 9781137298751 (Ebook EPUB) / 9781137298751 (Ebook PDF).

9781137298751.inddEco-cities are increasingly being marketed as solutions to a range of pressing global concerns, such as environmental and climate change, hyper-urbanization, demographic shifts, energy security, and the Peak Oil scenario. In response to these issues, eco-cities are being conceptualized as ‘experimental cities’, new urban areas in which new technologies and ways of organizing urban and economic life can be trialled, and where transition pathways towards low-carbon economies can be tested. The author examines the two most advanced eco-city projects under construction at the time of writing – the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City in China, and Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. These are the largest and most notable attempts at building new eco-cities to both face up to the ‘crises’ of the modern world and to use the city as an engine for transition to a low-carbon economy.

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Monique Abud

Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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城市规划原理 (Principles of urban planning)

4th edition of the volume edited by a team of professors from the Tongji University, with Li Dehua (李德华) as chief editor. Published by Zhongguo jianzhu gongye chubanshe (中国建筑工业出版社) in 2010.

PUP

《高校城市规划专业指导委员会规划推荐教材:城市规划原理(第4版)》系统地阐述了城乡规划的基本原理、规划设计的原则和方法,以及规划设计的经济问题。主要内容分22章叙述,包括城市与城市化、城市规划思想发展、城市规划体制、城市规划的价值观、生态与环境、经济与产业、人口与社会、历史与文化、技术与信息、城市规划的类型与编制内容、城市用地分类及其适用性评价、城乡区域规划、总体规划、控制性详细规划、城市交通与道路系统、城市生态与环境规划、城市工程系统规划、城乡住区规划、城市设计、城市遗产保护与城市复兴、城市开发规划、城市规划管理。

Miguel Elosua

Spanish qualified lawyer; PhD in Chinese Law. UrbaChina Research Officer. Has lived in China since 2006.

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Unreal Estate and China’s Collective Unconscious

Lam, Tong (2014). Unreal estate and China’s collective unconscious : photo essay. Cross-Currents : East Asian History and Culture Review. E-Journal, 10 (March 2014). URL: http://cross-currents.berkeley.edu/e-journal/issue-10

More than two decades ago, at the height of postmodernism, French historian Pierre Nora lamented that there no longer existed any milieux de memoire, or environments that embodied real everyday experience. What was left, according to him, were merely lieux de memoire, or sites of memory. As such, historical monuments and other memory sites do not seem to carry any fixed historical meaning anymore. Rather, they have emerged as focal points of memory contestation and identity politics, becoming “pure signs” with “no referents in [historical] reality” (Nora 1996, 19).

Indeed, even in China, where the kind of politics of representation common to liberal democracies is seldom applicable, there has been a proliferation of counter-memories—from private museums to Cultural Revolution theme restaurants—that do not always conform to the grand narrative sanctioned by the government. The country’s rapid economic growth over the past three decades has essentially produced an accelerated history, or what Nora and others refer to as the collapse of the present into the past, of memory into history. Not surprisingly, a spontaneous movement is emerging to collect, preserve, and archive all sorts of tangible and intangible artifacts and practices, such as old photographs, recipes, oral histories, and folkways, in contemporary China’s new economy of nostalgia.

What has often been left out of this postsocialist archive fever, however, are the numerous sites that are slipping not into, but out of, history. China’s reckless urbanization and real estate speculation have produced countless architectural wreckages—buildings, neighborhoods, and even cities—that are incomplete, destroyed, abandoned, or otherwise unused. Out of sight and out of mind, these sites do not register in public memory. Some of them may look monumental, but they are not monumentalized. In short, these are sites not of dissonant memories, but of collective unconscious.

For the photographic series featured in this issue of Cross-Currents—“Unreal Estate and China’s Collective Unconscious”—I have selected a diverse range of ruinous spaces to tell an alternative history of contemporary China’s hysterical transformation. Whereas historical monuments in China are frequently used by the state to symbolize civilizational pride and national humiliation, in order to mobilize the masses to observe their patriotic duty, the ruinous sites I seek to foreground in my photographs are non-places that represent the specter of history.

Read full essay at Cross-Currents E-Journal

 

Monique Abud

Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Lilongs – Shanghai 里弄 – 上海 by Christine Estève and Jérémy Cheval

9782916981000Christine Estève and Jérémy Cheval (2010). Lilongs – Shanghai 里弄 – 上海. Montpellier: Mon Cher Watson.

In Shanghai as elsewhere, the old town fades away while a powerful and modern city emerges. The lilongs, surrounded by skyscrapers, still attest to the humanity and the particular history of the city – they remain the evidence of a bustling environment, with varied typologies, a conservatoire of the Shanghainese lifestyle.

This guide unveils 20 discreet sites of traditional habitat, in a tour of a city caught between two eras.

Written in 3 languages, Chinese, French and English, this guide book looks at 20 lilongs around Shanghai that have stood up to the pressure of Shanghai’s rapid urbanisation. With the help of maps and illustrations, each lilong is clearly located (including GPS coordinates) and described in detail. This guide also includes explanations of what lilongs are and their history, and several passages on Shanghai’s history as well.

 

Aurélia Martin

Chargée de communications et des médias pour l’UMR Chine Corée Japon (CNRS)

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Space modernization and social interaction

Yang, Qingqing (2015). Space modernization and social interaction : a comparative study of living space in Beijing. Berlin ; Heidelberg : Springer. XVII-152 p. ISBN : SBN 978-3-662-44348-4.

This book concerns the Beijing Hutong and changing perceptions of space, of social relations and of self, as processes of urban redevelopment remove Hutong dwellers from their traditional homes to new high-rise apartments. It addresses questions of how space is humanly built and transformed, classified and differentiated, and most importantly how space is perceived and experienced. This study elaborates and expands Lefebvre’s “trialectic” of space on a theoretical level. The ethnography presented is a conversation with Tim Ingold’s argument about “empty space”. This research employs the ethnographic technique of participant-observation to secure a finely textured, detailed and micro-social account of local experience. Then, these micro-social insights are contextualized within macro-social structures of Chinese modernism by speaking to geographical concerns, orientalism and history.

More information on Springer

 

Monique Abud

Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Transitional Property Rights and Local Developmental History in China

Paper written by Daniel Abramson, Journal of Urban Studies, 48:553, SAGE (2011). DOI: 10.1177/0042098010390237

Abstract

Among the societies that are moving from a centrally planned economy with weak property rights towards a market-oriented economy with stronger and more privatised property rights, China is undergoing an especially rapid and extensive urbanisation that obscures the diversity and relevance of local pre-Reform property arrangements. Official discourse emphasises the formalisation, clarification and, to some extent, the privatisation of property rights in the name of overall societal development and gradual integration with the global economy. In local informal, popular practice and discourse, however, the invocation of property rights reflects the continuing political relevance of both revolutionary and traditional notions of rights to urban space that challenge a unitary, linear view of the development process.

Using the rather unique case of Quanzhou (泉州), in the province of Fujian, the second-largest qiaoxiang (侨乡) province after Guangdong, Abramson shows how property rights in this town have been protected throughout China’s turbulent twentieth century thanks in part to the special status overseas Chinese have enjoyed during this time.

Please click here to read the article (access restricted): http://usj.sagepub.com/content/48/3/553

Miguel Elosua

Spanish qualified lawyer; PhD in Chinese Law. UrbaChina Research Officer. Has lived in China since 2006.

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Urbachina’s WP5 workshop at LSE

LSE2

Stephan Feuchwang, leader of Urbachina’s work package 5 “Urban development, traditions and modern lifestyles” organised a workshop at the London School of Economics and Political Science on 25 and 26 September. During the workshop, the researchers from this team (Zhang Hui, Luo Pan, Wang Xiaoxia, Jude Howell, Paula Morais, and Renate Krieg) shared their findings for discussion and comparison not only with each other, but also with our two scientific advisers who have vast research experience in urban life and planning in China, Dan Abramson and David Bray, and with a number of others who have conducted research on urban life and governance in China and other parts of the world, including Europe.

The task of this work package on ‘urban development, traditions and modern lifestyles’ has been to investigate how new municipal institutions interact with residents, who bring to their urban relocation ways of organising themselves and improvise new ones. The focal topics were urban government, self-government and social sustainability.

Field research was conducted between March 2012 and April 2014 in the four cities selected by the UrbaChina consortium: the two large cities of Shanghai and Chongqing, and the two medium sized cities of Kunming and Huangshan. It is the most extensive systematic research on urban communities, as well as the most recent to date. One of the main results has been the deconstruction of the very conception of community, as a policy concept and an instrument of governance.

Miguel Elosua

Spanish qualified lawyer; PhD in Chinese Law. UrbaChina Research Officer. Has lived in China since 2006.

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A study on urban regeneration of Shanghai

Han, Ling and Jin-Young Kim (2014). A study on urban regeneration of Shanghai. Advanced Science and Technology Letters, 52 (SUComS 2014), pp.179-183. Retrieved 2 September 2014 from: http://dx.doi.org/10.14257/astl.2014.52.30

The historical buildings in the city imply the history of development as well as symbolize the identity of the city. The historical landscape of the city in the modern times premised in the preservation has had conflicts with modern development consistently. However, entering 2000s, Shanghai is actively carrying out the urban regeneration project. Accordingly, this study aims tointroduce the process in which Shanghai has developed and turned its historical sites into a contemporary cultural complex. In addition, the research analyzes the practical cases and suggests effective development of the creative industrial complex, introducing the policies related to urban regeneration of Shanghai.

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Monique Abud

Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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昆明 Kunming by JiKang Lee

This photo of Kunming, much like Schoenmakers’ two weeks ago, highlights the juxtaposition of traditional and recent architecture that appears so frequently in China’s urban landscape. In the foreground we can see the rooftops around of the historical and cultural centre, which according to the photographer, had been recently renovated. He also explains:

Growing up in Kunming, I felt that it was fast developing city. The pleasant climate makes it a place businessmen want to invest and live in, and it is the rest stop for travelers visiting the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau.

JiKang Lee is a freelance photographer based in Kunming. You can see more of his work on Fotokon’s blog and his Flickr.

Aurélia Martin

Chargée de communications et des médias pour l’UMR Chine Corée Japon (CNRS)

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Japanese nail house (dingzihu – 钉子户)?

 

Building penetrated by an expressway 001 OSAKA JPN.jpg
Building penetrated by an expressway 001 OSAKA JPN” by ignisOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

In the last few years, the phenomenon of the “nail house” (dingzi hu – 钉子户) has become rather frequent in China, as land acquisitions are ubiquitous and residents are usually not satisfied with either with the land seizure or the compensation package. Apparently, the term is a pun coined by developers to refer to “nails that are stuck in wood and cannot be pounded down with a hammer”.1 The existence of this phenomenon suggests that the best way for residents to protect the rights to their homes is to make them their stronghold. This course of action, however, is not risk-free, as many sad events have proved over the last few decades of meteoric development.

Reading about nail houses, I came across this photo of the Gate Tower Building in Osaka, also called the Beehive because it always seems busy. A highway passes through its fifth to seventh floors, of which it is the tenant! Cars pass through the building when exiting the highway.

As explained by Wikipedia2:

 “The elevator passes through the floors without stopping: floor 4 being followed by floor 8. The floors through which the highway passes consist of elevators, stairways and machinery. The highway does not make contact with the building. It passes through as a bridge, held up by supports next to the building. The highway is surrounded by a structure to protect the building from noise and vibration.”

However, the building didn’t exist at the time of the construction of the highway. In fact, both constructions were planned almost at the same time, and the property rights’ holder of the planned office building (who was the owner of the land) and the highway corporation negotiated for five years to reach this arrangement. It was facilitated by a reform in regulations allowing for the development of highways and buildings in the same space, something termed “multi-level road system” in its English translation.

I’m not familiar with the Japanese property rights system but I wonder why the government did not seize the land through expropriation. The construction of highways typically meets the requirement of public use. At any rate, the agreement shows a lot of creativity on the part of both parties and the government to make the best use of limited resources without compromising the interests of everyone involved. It’s also a good compromise to avoid the so-called tragedy of the anticommons, which occurs when property rights’ holders can’t reach an agreement and land remains undeveloped.

  1. See article about holdouts on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holdout_(architecture)#Nail_house []
  2. See article about the Gate Tower Building on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gate_Tower_Building []

Miguel Elosua

Spanish qualified lawyer; PhD in Chinese Law. UrbaChina Research Officer. Has lived in China since 2006.

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… And bridges

The Chongqing Municipality counts over 50 bridges, twenty or so in the urban centre. Aside from two exceptions, Baishatuo Railway Bridge and Shibanpo Bridge, all of these bridges were built and opened during the last 20 years.

One of the most recent projects in Chongqing is the creation of the “Liangjiang bridge”: two bridges and a tunnel which span the Liangjiang New Area, from the south bank of the Yangtze, crossing the Yuzhong district, to the north bank of the Jialing River. The twin bridges were designed by T. Y. Lin International. The Dongshuimen Yangtze River Bridge (above) has been complete since 31 March 2014. The Qianximen Jialing River Bridge (below) has yet to be finished, but should be opened in June 2014.

qiansimenbridge-väin

Photo by Lauri Väin (2013). This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

Perhaps the most amazing part of this transition from past to modern infrastructure is, as usual for China, its speed.

Aurélia Martin

Chargée de communications et des médias pour l’UMR Chine Corée Japon (CNRS)

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Old and New by Kevin Schoenmakers

This is the first post in a series focusing on photos of China, taken under Creative Commons licenses. These will relate to the themes of UrbaChina: territorial expansion, migration, urban communities, sustainability, etc.

This photo taken by Kevin Schoenmakers in 2013 highlights the contrasting urban landscape of Shanghai. In the foreground, we can see an early 20th century lilong in the Zhabei District, Shanghai, and in the background, a new high-rise. The Zhabei District transformed after the Communist liberation in 1949, when destroyed buildings and shanty towns were razed to build new residential areas. That transformation continued in the 1990s when shikumen houses (such as the ones in the picture) were demolished to make way for new constructions built to meet Shanghai’s target development. The district’s low housing prices make it an attractive place for migrants and is often described as “up-and-coming”.

Kevin Schoenmakers is a Dutch photographer currently living in Shanghai. You can see more of his photos of China on his Flickr or his website.

Aurélia Martin

Chargée de communications et des médias pour l’UMR Chine Corée Japon (CNRS)

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China’s emerging eco-cities

Zhongjie Lin (2014), Constructing Utopias: China’s Emerging Eco-cities, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina. ARCC Conference Repository, 2014 .

Each year about 16 millions of China’s rural residents – equivalent to the total population of the Netherlands – are moving into cities. This trend has continued for nearly two decades in this “largest mass migration ever seen in human history” (David Harvey). Amid such dramatic demographic shift and the resulting construction boom are ambitious plans throughout China to create new towns to house swelling population and to sustain economic growth. A series of prototype eco-new towns have been proposed in this wave of mass urbanization. They are often conceived as exemplary piece of urbanism showcasing the latest design and environmental technologies in town building, and represent a new chapter in China’s continuing effort of organized urbanization as a strategy to address complex economic and environmental issues.

This paper studies three eco-new town projects, including Dongdan Eco-city, Binhai Eco-city, and Qingdao Eco-block. They were intended as “models” to showcase the best practice in planning and development and to provide duplicable experience for other cities in the country. The paper examines these eco-new towns through the lens of urbanism and utopianism, focusing on the relationship between place making and social development. These projects were either initiated by the governments or created by private organizations or joint ventures, demonstrating different strategies of developing eco-city and representing different political and economic agendas. However, they were all encountered some dilemmas due to the current land policies and prevalent patterns of urban development in China, which indicates more fundamental issues to tackle to move toward a sustainable society. Studying China’s emerging eco-city movement from design and policy perspectives, this paper contribute to the understanding of new patterns of urban growth in our globalized era, and shed a new light on the strategies of dealing with the current environmental crises.

 Full text of the paper

Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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The race for expansion – Cerdá Year

Captura de pantalla 2014-08-08 a las 03.08.28

Exactly 150 years ago, on the 7th of June 1859, the Plan for Reform and Development of Barcelona was approved. This was the work of Ildefonso Cerdá. The Plan is considered to be a pioneer in the development of modern urbanism. What continues to surprise today is Cerdá’s capacity to predict the protagonistic role which public transport would play in the city.

For more information on the Cerdá Year, please click here: http://www.anycerda.org/eng/

 

Miguel Elosua

Spanish qualified lawyer; PhD in Chinese Law. UrbaChina Research Officer. Has lived in China since 2006.

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