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Publication . 2019

Influences of Planning Policies on Community Shaping in China: From Past to Present

Liu, Jian;
Open Access
Published: 15 Dec 2019
Publisher: Zenodo

In China, as in other countries of the world, communities, which are often considered as self-governing social organizations, are shaped and influenced by many factors. Different from other studies, this paper approaches the issue of community shaping from a planning perspective and tries to answer the questions of how Chinese communities have been physically shaped throughout history and what influences the planning policies have on communities’ scales, forms, and functions. Hereby, the planning policies concern not only the spatial organization, but also the social management of communities. The research is elaborated chronologically, dividing the history of community development in China roughly into four periods according to socio-economic development trends, planning objectives, and community characters. The narration is mainly based on literature work and case studies, with a focus on the social and spatial characters of urban communities. The paper concludes that before the modernization of China, Chinese communities were mainly shaped into a gated Li-Fang pattern by traditional city building principles, in accordance with the regulations on social management, in spite of the terminological changes in different dynasties and the opening of gated communities during certain dynasties. In the thirty years of the planned economy, Chinese communities were mainly shaped into inward Danwei (or work unit) communities of perimeter blocks by the urban planning institution, which was regarded as a technical tool of the planned socio-economic development to support national industrialization. In the next thirty years of economic transition, Chinese communities were further shaped into gated commodity housing communities of super blocks under the influence of reforms and the guidance of urban planning regulations. In the period of new urbanization, Chinese communities face the challenge of transforming towards a dense grid, with narrow streets and small blocks, and promoting public engagement in community building, in view of the requirements for quality-oriented development.


community shaping; planning policy; social management; spatial organization; Chinese cities

Funded by
Transition towards urban sustainability through socially integrative cities in the EU and in China
  • Funder: European Commission (EC)
  • Project Code: 770141
  • Funding stream: H2020 | RIA
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