BA – institut supérieur des arts de Toulouse (Merit);
MA – institut supérieur des arts de Toulouse (Distinction);
MLA – The University of Hong Kong (Distinction)
Chinese Megablock Urbanism: An enquiry into the conceptualization and interpretation of urbanization practice in China
Dr Gerhard Bruyns
Dr Lei Qu
About the Research
In the Chinese context, the ‘collective’ has stood central to its urbanisms and processes of urbanization (Lu, 2006). As a state where ownership and territoriality are retained by a socialist system, the basic elements of this (urban) model have remained the creation of collective housing founded on publicly owned land. From the ‘neighbourhood-unit' (邻里单位) and ‘working-unit’ (单位大院), to ‘commodity housing’ (商品房) (Lu, 2006), these practices gradually shape Chinese cities in “Socialism with Chinese characteristics” into what can only be termed ‘megablock’ urban fabrics.
Where, ‘Mega’ infrastructure in cities, or better yet, megablocks, embody the antithesis of open and transparent entities. Beyond its organization with the physical network (transportation or public service), they impact the urbanization process in terms of speed and scale. The Chinese urban population has risen from 18% in 1978 to 58.5% in 2017 (National Bureau of Statistics of China, 2018). Between 1991 and 2000, 83% of Shanghai’s residential compounds became enclaves, with the Guangdong Province alone witnessing the formation of 54,000 closed-off compounds, covering more than 70% of the city surface and housing more than 80% of its population (Miao, 2004).
Broadly speaking, former and ongoing studies of Chinese urbanization are yet to provide a clear perspective of megablock development, both in terms of the unprecedented context and its spatial impact.
This paper aims to address concerns pertaining to the megablock phenomenon: its impacts on urban morphology as well as its prevalent strategies as an urban model. The argument presented here hopes to touch upon the links between planning and the eventual morphological expression of megablock development, and possibly argue for the cultivation of an urbanization practice that needs to become systematic in its sustainable focus and outcomes.
Research methods that are used in this study is mix with qualitative and quantitative approaches. The methodology is designed to address textual study, case study and intervention study. They include critical literature review; Delphi in-depth qualitative interviews; case study and spatial analysis containing quantitative analysis of spatial characteristics.
Peng, YX, Bruyns, G and Qu, L. 2019. “Chinese Megablock Urbanism - a Tool of Limitless Urbanization at an Unprecedented Speed and Scale.” the 55th ISOCARP Congres. Jakarta, Indonesia.
Peng, YX, Bruyns, G , Qu, L and Nel, D. 2020. "New ‘World’ Morphology: Outlining the Chinese Megablock Urbanism (CMU) Block Morphology and Physical Characteristics." The International Seminar on Urban Form. Salt Lake City, USA.
Peng, YX, Bruyns, G and Qu, L. 2020. “Review of Chinese Megablock Urbanism: Case Study of Rapid Urbanization in the Greater Bay Area”. International Forum on Urbanism. Nanjing, China.