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Urban design—From the "designed" city to the "design" of the city (Part 2)

2024-01-15 | UPSC | By Zhu Ziyu

2.2 Promoting and guiding urban design projects

Under the requirement of "carrying out urban design projects", the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development of People’s Republic of China has made specific deployments and actions. In March 2017, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development announced the "Measures for the Administration of Urban Design", which has been formally implemented since June 1, 2017. As a starting programmatic document for urban design work in China, the "Measures for Urban Design Administration" is the first statutory document that nationally incorporates urban design into urban construction management, and is of great significance for the establishment of planning systems, technical improvement, implementation supervision and other aspects of urban design work. During the same period, it organized the study of the "Basic Provisions on Technical Management of Urban Design", which improved the technical system of urban design.

The Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development has been actively carrying out urban design work, and in March and July 2017, 57 cities were listed as urban design pilot cities in two batches to carry out urban design according to local conditions and accumulate experience for comprehensive urban design work. After more than two years of pilot work, preliminary exploration has been carried out in management organization, system construction, organization and preparation, implementation and application, and the use of new technologies, and certain results have been achieved.


Figure 3. Summary of the effectiveness of the urban design pilot actions

Urban design cannot address every problem in urban work, but it provides a way to solve problems. In the practice of urban construction activities, various cities have strengthened the coordinating role of the urban design work platform. For example, in order to coordinate all the work with urban design, the "double chief planner" system—a working group made up of chief planner and chief architect, was created to coordinate the regional thinking and systematic upgrading of the city, and the quality control of the whole process of urban construction. Urban designers can work as coordinator of all professional experts. In the implementation of the regeneration of Haikou's Delta Area, urban design used to manage different professions, such as architectural design, road traffic system design, environmental landscape design, water management, nightscape lighting, which in turn formed a platform for management and implementation. Urban design was used to manage major projects, and in the control of the construction of the museum cluster in the Dahongmen area of the South Central District of Beijing, the urban design carried out the control of the construction in terms of the site selection, morphology, and indexes.

2.3 Innovative urban design management system to control construction

Modern urban design is no longer just a technical tool focusing on urban form, but also has the advantage of guiding the design of control interventions, and makes urban design a technical tool and public policy that plays a control role in multiple dimensions and fields. As deeper urbanization in China, it is necessary to strengthen urban design as a management tool, to innovate the urban design system, using urban design to solve problems through all process of planning, construction, and governance, and fully leading the build of the city.

After years of practice in the United Kingdom, the concepts and strategies of urban design have been applied to urban planning, building development control and urban practices, throughout the entire process of planning, construction, and governance. For example, the UK has established a Design Review system to guide the implementation of project construction, which is used to review development and construction programs and as the basis for planning permission. In recent years, the UK has further adopted the concept of "Design Governance", advocating that the government should be the core leader, meanwhile establish an action and decision-making system jointly composed of experts, developers, citizens, and other stakeholder, so as to optimize the city's construction and governance operation process by means of incentives, guidance, evaluation and other diversified design governance tools. 

Different parts of China have also carried out many useful explorations in the construction of the urban design system, and have constructed their own distinctive urban design management systems. Cities represented by Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen carried out a management system with regulatory planning and urban design rules. Cities like Beijing, connect the Master Plan with regulatory planning, and control the city construction by means of urban design comprehensive implementation programs. Cities such as Ningbo, Quzhou, and Yichang, take the results of urban design as the dominant basis for urban construction, and make it a legal planning and management document guiding development and construction. Cities represented by Tianjin, Qingdao, and Jinan, put the guiding requirements of urban design into administrative approval process of construction program permission.


Figure 4. Exploring and promoting the legalization of urban planning and management in Ningbo

3 Conclusion 

Carrying out urban design work has become one of the important issues of urban work in the new era. At present, China's urbanization has entered the stage of high-quality development, and it is necessary to continuously strengthen the urban design work, from the city of "design" to the "design" of the city, and to play the role of urban design in the whole process of planning, construction, and governance by improving the planning, guiding the design, controlling the construction, and innovating the system. 

Taking urban design as the leading profession of the city construction projects, it will coordinate the whole process of planning, construction, and governance, and improve the level of high-quality urban development. It will create a spatial form that considers the pattern of mountains and water, a cityscape that contains poetic and picturesque scenes, an urban landscape that shows regional characteristics, a charming place that manifests diversified vitality, and a sustainable and healthy urban development.

Author:Zhu Ziyu,Director of the Urban Planning Society of China, Chairman of the Urban Design Sub-committee, former Chief Planner of the China Academy of Urban Planning and Design

Source: <https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/m2FYN-73CvWkNhtlUaLQjQ>

Translated by Zhang Chenxi