ISSUES2019 No.1
Editor’s Note: In its long history of city development, China had developed its own theories of city building, which were firstly described as city building prototype in Zhou Li: Kao Gong Ji in as early as the Warring States Period, between 475 BC and 221 BC, and physically represented through the construction of numerous Chinese cities in the following dynasties, especially the capitals like the Old City of Beijing in the Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasties. Although these traditional theories had gradually appeared out of date since the mid-19th century along with the construction and development of modern cities, the embedded Chinese philosophy of city building, such as the aesthetic principles of order, balance, and integrity, remained vital until today, which is basically in conformity with the concept of urban design of the West. As an indispensable part of modern urban planning, urban design was introduced to China in the early 1980s, right after the country initiated its reform and opening-up policy. Under the circumstance of rapid urban development, it became very soon well known in the professional field, as a technical tool and a three-dimensional expression of urban planning to deal with the increasing concern on the quality of physical environment. It was widely taught in schools of architecture and planning and broadly used in the practice of planning and design at regional, municipal, district, and even neighborhood levels. It gained even more attention in the past decade when more and more Chinese cities were suffered from the fading of their local identities, under the influence of globalization and amid the acceleration of urbanization, and the phenomenon of “thousands of towns in one appearance” became more and more severe all over the country. After China became an urban society in 2011 and the New Urbanization became a national policy in 2013, the quality of development, taking over the scale and the speed of development, became the primary concern of Chinese society and Chinese government as well, on urbanization. In order to shape better human settlements in both urban and rural areas and to make Chinese cities regain their local identities through the improvement of physical environment, urban design has been taken again as an efficient tool of urban planning management, being even empowered by the Measures of Urban Design Management which was issued by the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MOHURD) in 2017. It is expected that the status of by-law will make urban design more competent to shape a better physical environment in Chinese cities.

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