China's Cities at a Crossroad

In China, many historic villages on the outskirts of large cities are being redeveloped to meet the needs of members of the transient rural migrant community who are flocking to urban areas in search of work. In many cases, cultural and historic buildings and infrastructure are being razed and replaced by stark low-quality structures. At the same time, walking and bicycling facilities are being eliminated to make room for more roads. This article discusses these alarming developments and highlights some recent projects which emphasize a more desirable type of urban form. Ingrained practices, economies of scale, streamlined production and construction, profit-maximization, and regulatory loopholes all converge to reinforce the domination of the single-use, superblock enclave model in China. Until proven otherwise, developers and city planning bureaus will continue to believe that large scale, cookie-cutter projects on clear lots will be easier, cheaper, and more profitable. The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy is working with other groups to develop some projects that reflect a new way of thinking. These projects include a mixed-use greenfield project earmarked for rapid development around an underground metrorail station; a bus rapid transit line; a railroad station for a new high-speed rail connection; and a world-class public square.


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  • Accession Number: 01150784
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Feb 1 2010 8:23PM