The Contemporary Chinese Metropolis: Modernity, Globalisation, and Conceptual Meanings

By Ian Morley.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Urbanisation has in the milieu of urban history revealed itself to both be an effect and a cause of societal shifts originally instigated by the onset of industrialisation. So closely allied is urban growth with industrial advancement, and so significant are they in terms of how a society observes itself, that they collectively act as an age marker, a symbol that denotes cultural progression from the traditional to the modern. In such a context this work offers to explicate arguably the world’s most evolutionary, cutting-edge urban building society – China – a nation increasingly distancing itself from its heritage, and rural foundation as part of its process of social and cultural advancement. Accordingly an analysis of the urban perspective of China’s contemporary development is given, in so doing appraising China’s post-1978 state-society relationship, and the nation’s grasp of modernity, albeit via the prism of urban design. Putting forward an appreciation of how the evolving Chinese economic and political strategy has manifest a radically different urban landscape in terms of its scale, density, complexity, and meaning, the work shall additionally elucidate the significance of the modern Chinese city concept. This is to be achieved by centring upon issues like the clearing and redeveloping of city districts, the construction of skyscrapers, and the naming of exclusive housing enclaves. In summing up the proposal explicates two key matters. Firstly, the redefining of China’s cities in ‘abstract’, and its significance for the country with its ever more intimate ties to globalised forces. Secondly, how architecture, planning, and urbanisation have been not only utilised but encouraged by the elites to emit the benefits of the modern age.

Keywords: Modernity, China, Metropolises, Urban Design

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp.309-322. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.281MB).

Dr. Ian Morley

Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of History, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Sha Tin, NT, Hong Kong

Ian Morley is a former postgraduate student of Leicester University and Sheffield University where he studied British Urban History at the Centre for Urban History and School of Architectural Studies. His PhD thesis, for example, examined British civic design in the late-Victorian and Edwardian period and is the central subject of a book on British urbanism (to be published in 2008). With work experience in England, Spain, France, Taiwan, and Hong Kong Dr. Morley has taught various aspects of Urban History, Design and Humanities, with his present day teaching extending into aspects of post-industrial urban developments in Asia as well as Europe. In addition, his research has broadened to include matters such as public health, urban management, and architectural criticism. Examples of his published work include Architecture in The Mid-Atlantic Region (Greenwood Press, 2004), Chaos, Contagion, Chadwick, and Social Justice (Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, 2007), plus book reviews for The Journal of Architecture, Planning Perspectives, Urban History, Urban Morphology, The History Teacher, and the Australian Economic History Review. Dr. Morley has also taken part in a documentary for The Discovery Channel about the Taipei 101 Tower, and documentary for Voom HD/Channel 5 (UK) in 2008.


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