China's era of rapid urbanisation has left a series of unrelated and unconnected developments. China has been busy building skyscrapers for showcases, highways for cars, factories for industries. But where is our human city? A true sense of place comes from making a city livable and designed at human scale. This next era of urbanization requires a broader type of urban planning capability to attract and retain the best talents to our cities. The New Urbanization Council aims to influence national and regional policies that will pave the way for these ecolivable communities.
New Urbanization Council, launched on November 7, 2014 at the Urban China Initiative Summit, with Dr. Wu Zhiqiang of Tongji University, Dr. Yu Kongjian of Turenscape, David Nieh of Lend Lease, and Peggy Liu of JUCCCE as Co-Chairs. The Council will be conducting a policy recommendation research paper along with the China Academy of Governance, to create a set of policy recommendations, to enable ecolivable cities in China, to present to the highest levels of central government.
The formation of this council follows a year and a half of existing research and field-testing. JUCCCE, Lend Lease and the Urban China Initiative spent a year developing a framework of 9 key principles.
1. New Metrics
Urban governments need to shift their focus beyond conventional metrics for cities that are centered on economic success towards social and environmental goals. Having established the foundation of security, cities need to offer enjoyment and consider its livability. Indices such as the ISO 37120 on "sustainable development of communities" can serve as a new set of goals in the transition towards ecolivability. Factors such as social offerings, openness of a place and its aesthetic charm have been shown to be far more important factors for attracting and retaining talent rather than economy alone.
2. Integrating Nature
Integrating nature into urban areas (biophilia) has multifaceted benefits, offsetting carbon footprint, regulating temperature, enhancing a city’s beauty, and improving citizens’ wellbeing. Nature can be introduced in small or big ways – urban gardens, living walls and green roofs, tree-lined streets and planted medians, murals of nature, playgrounds and parks built from natural elements. Greater urbanization has meant we have become far removed from nature, which is why we need to find any opportunity we can to integrate it into the bustle of a city.
3. Transit-Centered Living
Conveniently connected communities bring people close to jobs and customers close to businesses. When building transport nodes, you can create a social space, residential space, commercial space. When relying on cars, you only build roads that divide communities. Ideally, 90% of development lies within a five- to ten-minute walk of a transport node.
4. Designing for Human Streets
Walking in a city should be convenient, easy, and enjoyable. Urban citizens want diverse living situations where they can work, play, eat and rest within a pedestrian zone. This way we reduce transportation expenses and emissions, encourage interaction and a sense of community, generate more commercial activity and improve citizen’s health as they walk more.
5. Shared Spaces
Free, accessible public spaces in a city foster community connections and innovation. Flexible spaces can adapt to the users’ needs and react to users’ conditions at various times of day. Flexibility is achieved via lighter, cheaper, quicker methods such as pop-up spaces, mobile galleries, and moveable seating. Vibrancy comes from regular programming of versatile activities.
6. Distinct Charm
Place is more than a location on a map. A sense of place is a unique collection of qualities and characteristics – visual, cultural, social, and environmental – that provide meaning to a location. To foster distinctiveness, cities should consciously explore, identify, and encourage the organic and human-driven growth in a city’s character, thus increasing the residents’ sense of stewardship and belonging.
7. Welcoming City
Welcoming cities are safe, full of friendly and courteous people. Beyond attracting tourists, cities should aim to meet the needs of its newest citizens with many paths to meet people and get involved in the community. There should be adequate and ease of access to good and services, everything a person needs to start their journey in a new city. This is often achieved with intentional tourism and citizen awareness campaigns, but there are also subtler or indirect ways to make a city uplifting to spend time in, such as building enough road signs and offering curated activities and events.
8. Community Engagement
Social networking platforms can be used to collect citizens’ suggestions for improvements to cities. Crowdsourcing allows urban citizens a voice in their city’s future and a sense of agency. Policy makers gain a stronger understanding of residents’ needs. With rapid innovation in mobile app design and GPS technology, this is a field of high potential.
9. Regional Cooperation
Regional cooperation means sharing everything from ideas to infrastructure across different cities. Neighboring cities often share a cultural and historic context and can build on their common identity. It is often efficient to share resources and build to economics of scale. Ultimately, this opens up more options for urban citizens as opportunities and services in neighboring cities become more available to them.
Co-Chairs of New Urbanization Council
Wu Zhiqiang/ Siegfried
WU, Siegfried Zhiqiang, Dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Tongji University, and Chief Planner of World Expo 2010 Shanghai China. He is an active scholar, planner and dedicated educator in the field of architecture and urban planning.
Prof. WU also serves as Co-Chair of International Steering Committee of World Planning Schools Congress (WPSC), Permanent member of UNESCO-UIA World Architectural Education Council, the President of Asia Planning schools Association (APSA) from 2003-2007, Secretary General of Regional Jury Asia Pacific of Holcim Competition for sustainable construction, Member of Standing Council at International Metropolis Foundation, Director of Planning Education Steering Council of China, Vice President of Urban Planning Society of China.
Kongjian Yu received his Doctor of Design Degree at The Harvard Graduate School of Design in 1995, with the dissertation, "Security Patterns in Landscape Planning: With a Case in South China". He has been a professor of urban and regional planning at Peking University since 1997, and is the founder and Dean of the School of Landscape Architecture at PKU, and is now the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. He founded Turenscape in 1998, an internationally awarded firm with about 600 professionals. Yu and Turenscape's practice covers architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design, across scales. He is currently a Visiting Professor for the Department of Landscape Architecture at the Harvard GSD.
David holds a Masters of Architecture in Urban Design degree from Harvard University and a Masters of Architecture degree from the University of California/Berkeley. David was appointed Head of China in February 2012 and is based in Shanghai, China.
In his capacity of Head of China, David is responsible for growing Lend Lease’s footprint in China and introducing Lend Lease’s unique integrated model into China offering property services spanning the entire property value chain. David also brings with him vast experience in development and is a renowned thought leader on sustainability in the built environment.
He is a registered architect and certified planner, as well as an accredited professional in sustainable design. He started and directed the studio for Skidmore, Owings and Merrill’s Shanghai office, and was the chief architect for the City of San Jose and Redevelopment Agency. He has taught architecture, urban design and urban studies at Stanford University, where he was also a faculty affiliate of the Graduate School of Business.
He is an appointed advisor to China Development Bank Capital, China Nobel Forum, the US-China Clean Energy Forum, Beijing University College of Architecture and Landscape, Stanford University Architecture. Program and University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. David has been a speaker and a moderator at the Boao Forum.
Peggy Liu, Chairperson of JUCCCE, is internationally recognized for her expertise on China‘s sustainability landscape and for fostering international collaboration with China. JUCCCE is a non-profit organization dedicated to accelerating the greening of China, because a green China is the key to a healthy world. JUCCCE is a leader in creating systemic change in sustainable cities, sustainable consumerism and smart grid, and most noted for its multi-sector convening power. As one of the leading green voices in China, Peggy was honored as a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, the Hillary Step for climate change solutions in 2012, a Time Magazine Hero of the Environment in 2008, the Hillary Laureate of 2010 for climate change leadership, a Forbes "Women to Watch in Asia" in 2010.