Dr. Lei Qu, Section of Spatial Planning and Strategy, Department of Urbanism, Delft University of Technology, L.Qu@tudelft.nl
After two decades of rapid urban development, Chinese cities have now started to pay more attention to their existing built-up areas, instead of exploring new territories and expanding. Urban regeneration is playing an increasingly crucial role in reshaping spatial structures in city-regional levels and urban form at the neighbourhood level. Such planning strategies imply a paradigm change regarding urban development modes in China, from extensive urban expansion to adapting the existing built environment, seeking for more sustainable ways of development. However, driven by demand on land for large-scale re-development, especially in central urban areas, Tabula Rasa approaches have been adopted in renewal of old urban fabrics, such as historical inner city districts and and the so-called ‘urban villages’. As a consequence, issues related to gentrification and decrease of affordable housing in central urban areas emerged.
As indicated in Jane Jacobs’ understanding of cities- ‘organized complexity’- certain spatial conditions can contribute to urban vitality, such as walkability, mixed functions, place identity, and room for self-organization. Old urban fabrics in Chinese cities mentioned above generally possess such spatial conditions, which were created by people through time. As Jane Jacobs stated in her book ‘The Death and Life of Great American Cities‘, “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody” (p. 238).
This track intends to discuss alternative ways of urban regeneration that may lead to a more inclusive and vital future city life. These alternatives mainly refer to locally oriented and people centered incremental development, improving spatial conditions and maintaining socio-economic networks simultaneously. The research question would be: How to incrementally reshape old urban fabrics in Chinese Cities with local stakeholders as key actors? Papers addressing such issues from perspectives of urban planning, design, and governance are welcome.