The UrbaChina project (2011-2015): completion and follow-up

The UrbaChina project has come to an end. This EU funded research project started in March 2011 and was completed in February 2015. UrbaChina’s main objective was to determine China’s urbanisation trends for the next 40 years and outline possible future scenarios with reference to concepts of sustainability. To reach this goal, UrbaChina used interdisciplinary methods and proposed a multi-faceted approach to the study of sustainability.

As the coordinator of this project, I found this a very rewarding experience. Working with some 11 leading Chinese and European research institutions and cultivating a network between them was very stimulating. We hope UrbaChina was the first step toward a fruitful cooperation between European and Chinese researchers in urban studies, leading to future cooperation.

During the past four years, the UrbaChina teams conducted several fieldtrips in China, mainly in the four cities selected for the project (Shanghai, Chongqing, Kunming and Huangshan), where we interviewed dozens of urban planners, land developers, scholars and officials at both the central and local levels of government. We also took part in several conferences in China and Europe, and organised several international events; we reviewed articles and endeavoured to inform a broad audience about the latest developments in China’s urbanisation.

Our findings have been shared with the scientific community and stakeholders in China and Europe. Most of our results can be found online.

The UrbaChina blog was launched in October 2012 to disseminate our results and identify the latest news on four specific themes regarding urbanisation in China:

  • Institutional foundations of city creation;
  • Land, property and the urban/rural divide;
  • Environmental and health infrastructures and services;
  • Traditions and modern lifestyles in cities.

The UrbaChina blog team was mainly composed of information specialists (Monique Abud, Jacqueline Nivard), a language editor (Aurélia Martin), Ph.D. students (Sébastien Goulard, Chi-Han Ai (艾之涵), Miguel Elosua,) and two interns Léa Daures and Oriane Pillet.

We carried surveys monitoring on urbanisation, putting a special emphasis on open access. Most of our posts link to articles available free online. In the same spirit, we opened an open archive providing images of the four cities under study in the UrbaChina project: Shanghai, Huangshan city, Chongqing, Kunming on MediHAL and a collection of working papers on HAL. The blog became an important tool for us to share this information effectively, with its newsletter ran by Sebastian Goulard every week.

We hope that our blog has satisfied your interest in urbanisation in China. Since the UrbaChina project is now finished, this blog will no longer be updated, but all posts will remain accessible. The blog will also be kept as an archive at the French National Library.

We would like to thank all our contributors and our readers who have helped keep our blog alive for the last three years. Our gratitude also goes to Open edition, the academic blogs platform, for hosting our blog and for their help, and to the China Centre at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales for its enthusiastic support.

Although this research programme is completed, China’s urbanisation still has many issues to deal with and will still be a hot topic for the next few decades. We will continue our research in other forms.

A new blog dealing with urbanisation topics in China will be launched by the end of the month.

We hope you will still continue to follow and enjoy our content.

François Gipouloux, CNRS, UrbaChina Project Coordinator


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