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Thread: Planning in China

  1. #1
    Cyburbian RPfresh's avatar
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    Planning in China

    Hi, I was wondering if anyone has done, is doing or knows anything about urban planning in China. What little I know is from a book published in the early 00s, and at that point land was still state-owned, although it could be 'leased' (instead of sold) to people who wanted to use the property for their individual projects. It seems to me like this would really allow urban planners to control what goes into a city, if the leasing process included the ability to attach strings to the deal to decide the type of project was going in where etc. If any of you have read The Transit Metropolis or know about Stockholm's experience with buying some of its own land early on, you'll know that the city was able to decide what projects went where and create a city that was less dictated by market forces and more by a plan. I'm looking at the possibilities through rose-colored glasses I know, but I'm wondering if that kind of planning is possible in China because of its system of land ownership. Thanks

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by RPfresh View post
    Hi, I was wondering if anyone has done, is doing or knows anything about urban planning in China. What little I know is from a book published in the early 00s, and at that point land was still state-owned, although it could be 'leased' (instead of sold) to people who wanted to use the property for their individual projects. It seems to me like this would really allow urban planners to control what goes into a city, if the leasing process included the ability to attach strings to the deal to decide the type of project was going in where etc. If any of you have read The Transit Metropolis or know about Stockholm's experience with buying some of its own land early on, you'll know that the city was able to decide what projects went where and create a city that was less dictated by market forces and more by a plan. I'm looking at the possibilities through rose-colored glasses I know, but I'm wondering if that kind of planning is possible in China because of its system of land ownership. Thanks

    I don't have a clear idea of the planning system, but I know a couple of my colleagues are involved in a collaborative project with the Chinese Government on the 'Tianjin Eco-City Project'. It may show you a bit about the approach of planning in China.

    Link's here: http://www.tianjinecocity.gov.sg/

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    homemade techniques for fighting off eminent domain actions in China...

    I found a hilarious article about techniques developed by a Chinese farmer to fend off developers trying to serve him with condemnation papers... with homemade cannons.

    http://www.zonaeuropa.com/20100607_1.htm

    Apparently, it's working.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally posted by RPfresh View post
    Hi, I was wondering if anyone has done, is doing or knows anything about urban planning in China. What little I know is from a book published in the early 00s, and at that point land was still state-owned, although it could be 'leased' (instead of sold) to people who wanted to use the property for their individual projects. It seems to me like this would really allow urban planners to control what goes into a city, if the leasing process included the ability to attach strings to the deal to decide the type of project was going in where etc. If any of you have read The Transit Metropolis or know about Stockholm's experience with buying some of its own land early on, you'll know that the city was able to decide what projects went where and create a city that was less dictated by market forces and more by a plan. I'm looking at the possibilities through rose-colored glasses I know, but I'm wondering if that kind of planning is possible in China because of its system of land ownership. Thanks
    hi, I am a urban planner in Beijing. In China land property include 2 kinds. In cities or industrial zone, most land are state-owned, but in rural areas most land are villager group-owned. When city spread to rural areas, the government must buy villager group-owned lands, then lease them using biding form.
    Yes, government have great controlling force than private-owned land situation. All building action must abide city planning. In China there is a plan we called "controlling detail planning", approximately equal zoning (but have lots of differents). That planning submit the detail control conditions for land use. Market forces are still strong. If some lands can't lease, it will bel a big problem, so the planner must consider the market demands.
    On the other side, governor power is not always the force of good urban planning.In the process of buying and leasing land - called land arrangement here - companies with governmental background earn lots of money. And civil's voice is so weak.

    I am a newbie in cyburbia, and maybe you have found my English is not good enough yet. Hope you guys can get what I told. :P

    And I have a question on zoning. Zoning mentions too less about controls on public service, such as hospitals, roads, infrastructures, fire-stations and so on. Does those things are market-driving? At least, road is about land value, it is related with land use closely.
    Last edited by reiziuh; 05 Jul 2010 at 5:50 AM.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Plus JNA's avatar
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    There is the APA in China: http://www.planning.org/china/
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  6. #6
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    I have noticed that while going over high-resolution Google aerial images of various Chinese big-city areas that in their 'suburban' fringe areas (this is especially apparent around Shanghai), the 'grid' of the new developing urban/suburban streets and surrounding buildings often bears zero resemblance to the patterns of the rural roads and farmland divisions that that development is replacing, sort of like they are literally scraping off all of the old before replacing it with the new.

    In the 'west' (Europe, North America, etc), the general patterns of new urban development tend to more closely follow the pre-existing property lines, public roads and so forth of what was there before, likely due to the influence of having many different and disparate property ownerships, most of whom tend to, for their own reasons, develop their properties at different times.

    It is fascinating to compare.

    Mike

  7. #7
    Cyburbian RPfresh's avatar
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    Thanks Reiziuh. I was able to understand what you were saying and that answered a lot of my questions. I was also wondering how hard it is for foreigners (I am from the US) to get jobs planning in China, as that is something I am interested in doing in the future.

  8. #8
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    PRfress, In China planning is not bad job from about 2000. Because more and more governments regard planning as an important method of stimulating the growth. And the speed of cities development is really fast horribly. In the other side it means planner's work is very burdensome.

    For Chinese graduates of urban planning, find a job is not so hard, because these is so many small planning companies. But if you wanna find a position in a better company, the situation is totally different, it is very very hard. For example recent couple of years, CAUPD ( called urban planning national team by some governors ) employed about 15-30 new clerks yearly, and they received about 1000 applications.

    In China, planning companies can divide into 2 type generally. One is with governmental background, such as CAUPD, every province and city has their planning institute too. Those institutes often affiliated to the urban planning committee of province or city. The other type is private-owned company, some of them are foreign invested, such as AECOM (former EDAW). For Foreigner, finding job in foreign invested companies is more easier, and will be more recognized.

    We have a law called "Urban and Rural Planning Law" in China. It defines planning type, and the qualifications to do each type planning. Comprehensive Planning is not open for private companies by now. For example, EDAW is well known in China, but it seldom involves the legal comprehensive planning, what it do most is strategy planning, detail planning, landscape, and so on.

    ==========
    mgk920, Your observational ability is so great. Yes, pushing down all and rebuilding a new world is the favorite of some governors. We do some planning with the context of the former land use, but it is often passed by the governors. In China, governors are more powerful than planner's theory and civilians' protests.

    If anyone can't get what I was talking in my bad English, feel free to ask me.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    Thanks for the interesting look into the situation in China.

    Oh yea, don't worry, your English is waaaaaaay better than my Chinese!



    English is one of those languages where the basics are very, very easy to learn, such that one can get to a simple conversational level within a few weeks, while to truly master the language and and all of its nuances can take a lifetime. I'm still learning new bits of it every day and I'm a 'native' speaker (a north-central USA dialect). Knowing many of those nuances, as well as the basic structures of many other languages, makes it easy to understand those from non-English speaking places as they work on learning and ultimately mastering the language. Your English progress is just fine and I had no problems understanding you.

    Mike

  10. #10
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    Hi, I am an American working as a planner for a foreign (i.e. US) firm in China. I agree with all of ruiziuh's comments.

    In further answer to RPfresh's question, the job market in general for planners etc. in China is pretty good. If you are interested in working in China it obviously would be good if you have some relevant experience, such as work on China projects. Other things that would probably be attractive are:
    - Sustainability/green building expertise, LEED certification, etc.
    - Large scale/high profile development project experience
    - Experience elsewhere in Asia - a lot of China offices do work in Korea, SE Asia, etc. (and vice versa)
    - Specific technical expertise, like planning/management of development zones, ports, utilities, etc.

    There are several big hurdles. One is language - there are a lot of non-Chinese speaking professionals in all fields working for international companies here, but that means all your information is being filtered through others. There are a lot of non-Chinese speaking design professionals around, but very few planners, in part because instead of reading maps, etc. we have to read reports, statistics, etc. which are all in Chinese.

    Another is just that the planning, government and development systems are so different, there is a big learning curve. At first, nothing works the way you are used to. As you pointed out, all land is publicly or government owned. Decision making processes are opaque and information is difficult to obtain. There is no public input process - you are either working for a developer, a local government, or some combination thereof. Codes are basically national, and there is little flexibility on areas such as setbacks, road widths, sunlight requirements, etc. which in my opinion is resulting in some very disappointing and non-sustainable results in new districts.

    The physical scale is 10 times typical that in the US (we routinely work on development plans for hundreds of hectares, with study areas of tens of square kms) and the time scale is 10 times less - our typical project length is 10 - 20 weeks. That can be fun but pressure is high, and sometimes the work suffers. On the plus side, you can really see things implemented.

    Hope this off-the-cuff answer is helpful.

  11. #11
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    mgk920, you give me some courage when I most need it. Thanks a lot.
    ddjiii's comments is very worthy, those are the situations here.
    Last edited by reiziuh; 07 Jul 2010 at 7:58 AM.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    I really enjoyed this book:

    Great Leap Forward / Harvard Design School Project on the City

    Used copies are going for $14 on amazon.com.

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