Tag Archives: Asian cities

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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The resilience of vernacular heritage in Asian cities

Call for papers

This conference focuses on the interplay between cultural practices and the production of urban space and place-making that creates the living vernacular heritages of neighborhoods and communities of the city. Emphasis is given to community efforts and collective empowerment through heritage preservation practices that are found to enhance sustenance of the natural environment as well as resilience towards environmental threats. The attention given to the vitality of vernacular heritage for its own sake and in creating foundations for disaster resilience is an as yet understudied dimension of research on such contemporary issues as the right to the city and spatial justice. Papers on disaster risk reduction for monumental heritage preservation would also be welcomed as long as they discuss the role of ordinary people and communities in constructing their everyday lives in and around these monuments, through which the monuments become meaningful spaces for their everyday life-spaces.

Among the contemporary challenges to the resilience of cities in Asia are those that arise from the disarticulation of relationships among cultural heritage preservation, the production of the urban built environment, and the capacities of ordinary people to engage in city-making by and for themselves. Heritage discourses tend to focus on sites thought to be of World Heritage importance while paying little attention to the living heritages of neighborhoods, artisanal craft and art districts.


31 July 2014

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Jacqueline Nivard

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

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Call for papers: Ideas of the city in Asia

Call for papers for “Ideas of the city in Asia” for the annual one-day seminar “Asian Metropolises”, organised by IPRAUS and DSA “Architecture and Urban Projets”, which will take place at ENSA Paris-Belleville (60 Bd de la Villette, 75019 Paris) on 24 May 2014.

Contemporary urban phenomena in Asia can no longer be understood through the concepts long used to define what a city is, and to distinguish it from what it is not (for example, contrasting “urban” with “rural”). These concepts have become obsolete in the face of radical urban transformation, which marks the entry of these cities into the modern world, and which seems to call into question the very idea of “city” as a recognisable physical entity. The seminar day on “ideas of the city” in Asia will consider the evolution of meaning attached to these concepts and representations associated nowadays with Asian cities as spatial, political and social entities.

The seminar’s objective is to find the keys to understanding complex urban realities in Asia, and to offer suitable theoretical and methodological tools to study these realities. The speakers will attempt to show whether, and to what extent, urban planning reflects thoughts on the future, elaborated from the urban planners heterogeneous cultural horizons, and rooted in different ethical, political and philosophical schemes. Does the discussion around the concept of city, today disseminated at a global level by international organisations, influence professional thinking? How do the players involved in various urban capacities describe a city where “life is good” and imagine an “urban future”? What are the ideals pursued by the architects, urban planners and public players? Contributions may focus on the appearance of brands (such as the “creative city” or “smart city”), which express social aspirations, but which, at the same time, reinforce global competition between cities.

Speakers may also explore how urban planning creates a relationship with past heritage. In modern times, urban planning cannot ignore inherited patterns and legacies, even if this relationship is sometimes expressed in terms of denial. It is therefore appropriate to examine how urban plans contribute to breaking off from legacy, or, on the contrary, are revitalised by spatial and cultural heritage of cities. To what type of heritage do we attribute value in the making of the contemporary city, and why? Speakers may analyse the politics and heritage projects, but, more broadly, they will examine how urban planning is inspired or incorporates heritage, and what logic underlies this reference set.

The seminar welcomes contributions that analyse urban planning documentation and their relationship with their theoretical, discursive and ethical foundations from various disciplinary perspectives. The authors are especially encouraged to examine the reactivation of inherited urban models, some ancient, in contemporary city plans; contemporary usage of heritage, the manipulation of urban history by the selective erasure of certain legacies, and promotion of others; the role of heritage in urban strategy; the analysis of discourse concerning the image of the city; contemporary utopias and urban ideals; and the “virtualisation” of the city, designed as a screen for economic activities and a platform for technological development.1

Please send proposals (max. 2500 characters including spaces) before 28 March 2014 to adeleesposito@yahoo.fr.

See original full call posted on the China Centre’s blog (in French).

  1. Translation by Aurélia Martin. []

Aurélia Martin

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

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Coming of an age: Trends and issues in housing in Asian cities

H-ASIA – Call for chapter proposals:  Trends and Issues in Housing in Asian cities Urmi Sengupta, Annapurna Shaw Projected to be published by Routledge
Typical streets and blocks in Chenggong, Balula Luis

For many countries in Asia, the future of housing is now. This future is closely linked to successful theoretical advancement and policy practice in housing studies. Well-provided housing is the bedrock of a community because of associated social and economic benefits. Housing and property have  long been economic drivers leading many households to better lives, but also, collectively, improving the economic base of the country or the city. For the past decade or so Asia has provided a fertile ground for new experiments in housing with surprising results in areas of housing privatization, subsidy regime and ownership structure. They have taken place within the context of dynamic demographic and economic shifts, serious reconfiguration in political and financial structure and changing aspirations. On the other hand, globalization has affected many Asian housing systems to different degrees and in various dimensions, which, in turn, has caused many countries to  aggressively manage risks and alter strategies. These changes can be summarized by three broad trends: First, rapid regulatory and financial reforms coupled with the growing private sector in a productive and profitable role increasingly driving housing growth by providing greater choice and variety of housing. Second: the shrinking role of public housing in relative terms with only a limited number of state-owned enterprises that are profitable and competitive. This fits in with the overarching trend towards stronger governance with corporate ethos and ambitions exerting significant leverage over the allocation of resources in the economy as a whole; and third: attempts from low income communities to acquire land or regularize encroached land and build their own housing and related infrastructure as a co-operative or individually or with the help of NGOs and /or the state. These trends have produced a diversity of results with varying impacts on different economic groups in the city, its social milieu and land uses and they also vary within countries in the Asian region.

Low quality housing in Shaoxing, Goulard Sébastien
Thus within the high income Asian countries, the middle income South-East Asian countries, China, India and the smaller and poorer countries of South Asia the housing efforts of the last decade show interesting similarities and contrasts. So far, however, there is a lack of research on how these trends can be articulated on a pan-Asian scale and what it means for the future.

Read the full text on the announcement of H-Asia

Jacqueline Nivard

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

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