Assessing the urban design appropriateness of xiaoqu: the case of Pujiang Town, Shanghai
A liveable neighborhood is the result of a multitude of factors, actors and circumstances, pertaining, among other things, to the built-environment, the socio-political and the economic context, adjusting over time. As in Shanghai numerous new towns are being built, urbanization growth has been researched mainly from a large-scale and quantitative point of view. A discourse on liveability is a necessary step to combine a more qualitative-based approach. This paper deals with the analysis and possible improvements of Shanghai’s peripheral developments, especially focusing on the neighborhood scale in a middle-class context. A contextualization of the new towns’ inception and main issues will provide the necessary background knowledge, and specific attention will be drawn to the Chinese urban typology of the enclosed compound (xiaoqu). One case study will be analyzed—a relocation area in Pujiang Town (south)—investigated through three urban design factors: diversity of uses, walkability, and green and public space. These will highlight the crucial role of a certain mixture of uses and the need of specific architectural typologies to house them; the contradiction between sense of enclosure and social interaction; the mutating nature of public space. Following new 2016 urban guidelines promulgated by the central government, compounds are required to gradually open up their walls and fences; nevertheless the resistance of residences and historical urban models in China will constitute a challenge to the implementation of these guidelines.
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