Tag Archives: urban development

Urbachina’s WP5 workshop at LSE


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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The city of Suzhou rewarded for its best practices in sustainable urbanisation

The city of Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China, won the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize 2014 for its demonstration of sound planning principles and good urban management.

The Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize is co-organised by the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore and the Centre for Liveable Cities. It aims to honour cities which tackle urban challenges through good governance and innovation. The prize places an emphasis on practical and cost effective solutions and ideas in order to facilitate the sharing between cities accross the world of best practices in urban solutions and sustainable urban development.

Suzhou has undergone remarkable transformation over the past two decades. The significance of its transformation lies in the city’s success in meeting the multiple challenges of achieving economic growth in order to create jobs and a better standard of living for its people; balancing rapid urban growth with the need to protect its cultural and built heritage; and coping with a large influx of migrant workers while maintaining social stability.

For more information, see the web-page of the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize.

Oriane Pillet

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).

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UCI 2013 Call for research

The Urban China Initiative aims to be the source of innovative solutions to urban development issues in China. To achieve this goal, UCI conducts a grant program to support research concerning China’s urban development and sustainability.

UCI accepts research applications on an annual basis for grants up to RMB 100,000. It also provides assistance and guidance during the research process and facilitates the publication of working papers and implementation through city pilots (Click here for more supports UCI GRANTS provide).

The Initiative supports research on the effectiveness of programs and technologies related to urban development; emerging domestic and global best practices in project design, development, and execution; and paths to successful structural adjustment in China’s cities. Grant-supported research focuses on sustainable urbanization (Click here for detailed requirements).

Candidates are required to submit an application package which includes a detailed research proposal and CV (download a. application form and b. proposal template) to grant@urbanchinainitiative.org.

The deadline for the upcoming round of funding is December 31, 2013. Research for the grants is expected to be completed within a year. For inquiry, please contact us via contact@urbanchinainitiative.org or +86(10)-8525-5331.

Monique Abud

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

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Urban history and urban development in China

Xue, Qian. 2013, March 8. Urban history : a knowledge base for urban development.
http://www.csstoday.net/ywpd/News/52897.html (accessed 9 July 2013).

 Starting from 2013, the Hangzhou Cultural and Historical Research Association will embark on a five year Wuhan Changjiang Bridge, 1957project investigating various aspects of the city’s history, including industrial development, urban construction, transportation development, etc. It is expected to provide knowledge and referential experience for current urban development.

Since the 1980s, China’s rapid urbanization has drawn more and more scholars toward the study of urban history; research on Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing and Wuhan has achieved significant results.

Chinese urban history studies grow fast

According to incomplete statistics, during the period from 1979 to 2010, publications on Chinese urban history totaled more than 2,000 volumes.
Professor Li Changli at the Institute of Modern History at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences,  said that in the past 20 or more years, the urban development in China has inspired many new topics and subfields among urban historian. Research in the area is blossoming. Particularly in recent years, publications of Chinese urban history have seen greater serialization, covered a broader range of issues and reached a more international audience.

Urban history is a branch of history.  It originated in the 1920s in the west and saw a revival in the 1960s; till 1980s, the subject had only gradually drawn attention from Chinese academia. He Yimin, vice president of the Chinese Urban History Association and director of the Institute of Urban Studies at Sichuan University, noted that China’s social development, urbanization, industrialization and modernization are the driving forces of Urban History Studies. Scholars often take major emerging cities such as Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing and Wuhan as original research subjects; today, their research is developing quickly.

Read more on Social Sciences in China Press


Monique Abud

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

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LSE-PKU Summer School 2013

The course “Urban Asia: Cities, society and development” is taught by Dr Hyun Bang Shin of the London School of Economics’ Department of Geography and Environment, a specialist in Asian cities with particular interests in cities in East Asia including China.

The course explores the contemporary dynamics of urbanisation in Asia, with special emphasis on cities in East and Southeast Asia that have experienced rapid urban development with strong state intervention in city-making and economic development. Re-making of Chinese cities will also be highlighted in the course, benefiting from the geographical advantage of having the summer school in China. The course will pay attention to examining the differences as well as similarities of urban development between Chinese and other Asia cities. More information about the course can be found at http://www2.lse.ac.uk/study/summerSchools/LSEPKUProgramme/courses/gy201.aspx.

The course will be taught through 36 hours of lectures and 12 hours of classes over the two week period, and assessed through a mid-term essay and a final exam.

Applications for the course can be submitted online at www.lse.ac.uk/LSEPKUSummerSchool where more information is available.

Any queries can be sent to lse-pku.programme@lse.ac.uk or to Dr Shin directly on H.B.Shin@lse.ac.uk.

LSE-PKU Summer School Office

London School of Economics and Political Science

TW3.400, Floor 4, Tower 3,  Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE, UK

Tel: +44 (0)20 7955 7359 Fax: +44 (0)20 7955 7368

e-mail: lse-pku.programme@lse.ac.uk



Monique Abud

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

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The Shanghai alleyway house: A vanishing urban vernacular

Bracken, Gregory. (2013) The Shanghai alleyway house : A vanishing urban vernacular. London : Routledge. 200 p. (Contemporary China series). ISBN 978-0-415-64071-8.

As a nineteenth-century commercial development, the alleyway house was a hybrid of the traditional Chinese courtyard house and the Western terraced one. Unique to Shanghai, the alleyway house was a space where the blurring of the boundaries of public and private life created a vibrant social community. In recent years however, the city’s rapid redevelopment has meant that the alleyway house is being destroyed, and this book seeks to understand it in terms of the lifestyle it engendered for those who called it home, whilst also looking to the future of the alleyway house.

Based on groundwork research, this book examines the Shanghai alleyway house in light of the complex history of the city, especially during the colonial era. It also explores the history of urban form (and governance) in China in order to question how the Eastern and Western traditions combined in Shanghai to produce a unique and dynamic housing typology. Construction techniques and different alleyway house sub-genres are also examined, as is the way of life they engendered, including some of the side-effects of alleyway house life, such as the literature it inspired, both foreign and local, as well as the portrayal of life in the laneways as seen in films set in the city. The book ends by posing the question: what next for the alleyway house? Does it even have a future, and if so, what lies ahead for this rapidly vanishing typology?

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Monique Abud

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

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In “Transformation”: assessing architectural and urban change in modern China

Graduate/Research Postgraduate Student Conference, University of Hong Kong, May 24-25, 2013

This conference will investigate and challenge the notion of “transformation” in Chinese architecture and urbanism over the course of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  Dramatic physical changes in the Chinese city over the past 160 years have accompanied, reflected, and occasionally prompted significant political, social and cultural vicissitudes in China over the same period of time.  At the same time, the idea of “transformation” as a straightforward and complete shift from one state to another tends to obscure and deny the complex, competing, and often incomplete nature of change itself.



  • 24-25 May 2013



Monique Abud

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

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Urbanisation and migration externalities in China

Combes P.-P., Démurger S., Li S., Urbanisation and Migration Externalities in China. Preprint Février 2013, 37 p.


We evaluate the role that cities play on individual productivity in China. First, we show that location explains a large share of nominal wage disparities. Second, even after controlling for individual and -firms characteristics and instrumenting city characteristics, the estimated elasticity of wage with respect to employment density is about three times larger than inWestern countries. Land area and industrial specialisation also play a significant role whereas the access to external markets does not. Therefore, large agglomeration economies prevail in China and they are more localised than in Western countries. Third, we -find evidence of a large positive impact of the local share of migrants on local workers’wages. Overall, these results strongly support the productivity gains that can be expected from further migration and urbanisation in China.

Full text available on the multi-disciplinary open access archive HAL-SHS


Jacqueline Nivard

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

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Chongqing: beyond the latecomer advantage

The spectacular growth of Chinese cities since the 1980s is often theorised as reflecting the advantages of latecomer development (ALD). ALD has been more effective in cosmopolitan, globally accessible coastal cities than outer cities. As leading cities, like Shanghai, close the development gap, the potential for ‘easy’ ALD growth falls off rapidly. Because institution building is more difficult than firm-based growth, ALD strategies may generate rapid short-term economic growth but not sustainable development. Accordingly, Chongqing municipality, with a population of 33 million, in West China, is pursuing a beyond latecomer advantage model. This is characterised by: (1) reducing poverty and rural-urban disparity through accelerated urbanisation, rural-urban integration and emphasising human resource development; (2) upgrading the value added of Chongqing’s economy through targeting of FDI and incentives to local start-ups; (3) endogenous development, reducing risks from external shocks; (4) Hukou reform; (5) establishing a land use conversion certificate market to rationalise land use; (6) emphasis on morality to address crime/corruption; (7) recognition of the importance of amenity in attracting investment and talent; and (8) establishing a longer developmental time perspective. This paper explores this Chongqing model in detail.

Cai 蔡建明, J., Yang 杨振山, Z., Webster, D., Song 宋涛, T. and Gulbrandson, A., “Chongqing : beyond the latecomer advantage = 重庆 :超越后发优势”. Asia Pacific Viewpoint, 2012, 53, p. 38–55. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8373.2012.01474.x

Full text available at : Wiley online library

Part of  special issue of Asia Pacific Viewpoint (2012, vol. 53) : “China’s changing regional development : trends, strategies and challenges in the 12th five-year plan (2011-2015) period“. Guest editor: Peter T.Y. Cheung.

Monique Abud

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

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