Chinese Superblock - a Study and Design Tools for Sustainable Urban Housing Development in China
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The thesis studies Chinese superblock housing areas, which are exceptionally large and enclosed high-density residential areas. The superblock typology has been the main method for planning and constructing urban housing in China during the past three decades of rapid urbanization. After the Chinese economy opened up in 1978, Chinese-Western co-operation in Chinese projects has continuously increased. The co-operation is challenging due to very different cultural backgrounds. The thesis bridges the gap of the cross-cultural co-operation issues with a study approach respectful of cultural differences. The study enlightens the backgrounds of the superblock housing areas and analyses existing superblocks. The characteristics of the blocks are further explained from a Chinese perspective, through the Chinese culture. The study defines main challenges in relation to sustainable development issues. The superblock housing areas lack in human scale, and diversity of both the built form and the non-built areas. The environments prohibit pedestrianism and poorly meet the needs of contemporary Chinese urban life. Practical design tools have been created from the basis of the study to overcome the challenges. The design tools combine essential Chinese characteristics with two Western sustainable planning theories. The design concepts form a basis to start planning for sustainable urban housing in China.