Zhou, J. (2013) Urban vitality in Dutch and Chinese new towns : a comparative study between Almere and Tongzhou. Ph. D. dissertation, Delft University of Technology, Delft.
Building new towns seems to be a rational approach that releases pressure from overly burdened large cities. This strategy was developed in Western Europe in the middle of twentieth century. Since the 1990s, the European new town model has been widely implemented in China. However, the author questions the feasibility of the large-scale, hasty new town developments. The study of worldwide new town experiences, especially European and Chinese cases, demonstrates that many new towns in fact have difficulty in achieving a real sense of urban quality and vitality. So far, few research projects have been conducted to evaluate and develop solutions for this problem.
‘Urban vitality in Dutch and Chinese new towns’ identifies the spatial and non-spatial factors and conditions that facilitate the development of urban vitality in new towns. It is aimed to reveal the impacts of spatial design, urban planning and governance approaches on the degree and patterns of local urban life of new towns in China and in the Netherlands, based on a comparative study of two cases: Almere in the north wing of the Randstad region in the Netherlands and Tongzhou in the metropolitan region of Beijing in China. The study does not intend to tackle the economic and sociological concepts in themselves, but to focus on the interrelationships between space and society.
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.
ICT as an enabler for intelligent city development: perspectives from Germany and China
The development of Intelligent Cities is a topic of interest to public policy makers,
researchers, and businesses in both the developed and fast developing worlds.
China has made Intelligent City development a national priority and has already
developed a number of initiatives, not only in major cities such as Beijing and
Shanghai, but in newly developing centers such as Wuxi and Ningbo. Information
and Communications Technology are playing an essential role in these
The Chinese Academy of Engineering, acatech – the German National Academy of
Science and Engineering, and the Münchner Kreis have all been active in research
and discussions concerning Intelligent City development. In this conference, these
three organizations will bring together academic and business experts to present and
compare research, examples, and future visions both in China and Germany for the
development of Intelligent Cities using information and communication technology as
an enabler. This conference should be of interest to researchers, business
practitioners, but also local, state, and national government policy makers.
China is currently experiencing the fastest growth in bike-sharing in the world, with thirty-nine bike-share systems in place, with the latest addition from last month in Aksu, near the the Kyrgyzstan border. At the head of the thirty-nine cities sits Hangzhou, which currently runs the world’s largest bike-sharing program, with over 60,000 bikes in service. That’s 40,000 more than the Vélib bike-sharing program in Paris, France.
Yet, at the same time, bikes have lost the wide appeal they once had in China. “In 1950, as a status symbol, every citizen had to have three things: a watch, a sewing machine, and a bicycle”, says professional fixed gear cyclist, Ines Brunn, who has lived in China since 2004. In the last decade, however, Brunn observes that the bike has become an image of the past and a mode of transport for those who cannot afford cars. However, local governments and their citizens in China and Taiwan are recognizing that more needs to be done to promote cycling as a commuter mode and a recreational activity, beyond implementing more bike-sharing programs.
Arup, Tom. (2013) Where there’s smoke there’s China. The Age World, 8 May (accessed 7 June 2013).
As a former top diplomat in Beijing, and after three decades of professional and personal engagement with the country, Professor Ross Garnaut is no stranger to China.
In January, the respected economist and former Labor climate policy tsar found himself in Beijing again, this time to open a workshop hosted in part by China’s powerful National Development and Reform Commission.
Gathered were a group of international policy wonks, including many Australians and local government officials. They met to discuss options for what some in the public debate deny is happening – the introduction of a national carbon price in China.
In just over a month China will begin a massive experiment in emissions trading when the first of seven regional pilot schemes kicks off (and which one day may develop into a national scheme).
The stakes are high. China emits one-quarter of the world’s greenhouse gases. It is easily the world’s largest consumer of coal. In 2011 it released an estimated 9.7 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide – more than the US and India combined.
In his speech Garnaut painted a cautious, but encouraging, picture of where China stands on climate change.
Eco-city development in China has been focused in new areas outside of existing cities that promise to be developed in a more sustainable way. These cities include the newest green building technologies, extensive green areas, sustainable transportation and environmentally friendly living. These eco-city developments are extremely promising and will see reduced environmental impacts compared to similar developments.
More important than the eco-cities themselves are the lessons that can be learned and technologies that can be fostered for future urban development. With hundreds of millions of people set to move to cities and increase their standard of living over the next 20 years, eco-cities will play an important role in China’s sustainability drive. The benefits gained through the experience of eco-city development will be much greater than the low footprint and improved sustainability of the cities themselves. The real benefits will come as the cities speed the innovation of construction and planning methods, which can be used in future urban development. The numerous eco-cities could be seen as the largest experiment in urban sustainability ever, with potential to produce an extensive amount of innovations in technology, lessons in urban development, and sustainable construction capacity.
Since the beginning of this year, the levels of air pollution in Beijing have been dangerously high, with thick clouds of smog chasing people indoors, disrupting air travel, and affecting the health of millions. The past two weeks have been especially bad — at one point the pollution level measured 40 times recommended safety levels. Authorities are taking short-term measures to combat the current crisis, shutting down some factories and limiting government auto usage. However, long-term solutions seem distant, as China’s use of coal continues to rise, and the government remains slow to acknowledge and address the problems. * Starting with photo #2, a four-part set of these images is interactive, allowing you to click the photo and ‘clear the air’, viewing a difference over time.
Chinese eco-cities can be seen as the largest experiment in urban sustainability ever, and the various pilot projects currently under way will provide many innovations in green technology and valid lessons on sustainable urban development. Given the scale and speed of urbanisation, however, these innovations will come too late for many cities and regions and a huge amount of unsustainable urban development will then have to be retrofitted. In the future it will be more critical to apply the eco-city lessons to the existing urban areas than to keep developing new urban areas, even if more sustainable. Quoting the author: “Eco-cities as isolated areas are the first step in developing urban sustainability, with the development of existing urban districts as eco-cities as the next logical step”. The article also explains the advantages of creating eco-districts and advances the vision of Beijing Core Area as an Eco-District.
Ph.D. Urban Planning and Public Policy (Rutgers University, New Jersey); M.Sc. Urban Affairs (Boston University); Architect (Technical University of Lisbon). Urban and regional planning consultant. Research fellow at Instituto de Ciencias Sociais – Universidade de Lisboa.