PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2014, Vol. 33 ›› Issue (5): 689-701.doi: 10.11820/dlkxjz.2014.05.010

• Urban and Regional Development • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Review of urban form, structure and morphology in China during 2003-2013

WANG Huifang, ZHOU Kai   

  1. School of Architecture, Hunan University, Changsha 410082, China
  • Received:2014-01-01 Revised:2014-04-01 Online:2014-05-25 Published:2014-05-25

Abstract: This paper reviews research on urban form, urban structure, and urban morphology of Chinese cities published in major geography, urban planning, and architecture academic journals in the last decade (from 2003 to 2013). By firstly clarifying the working definitions of these three concepts, this paper categorizes current literatures into six major research themes: impacting factors of urban forms, application of new methods and models, time- space dimensions, sustainable urban forms, planning and management of urban forms, and regional case studies. Perspectives, findings, methods, and limitations of the reviewed research were evaluated together with their implementations in planning practices in recent years. By comparing the differences between research approaches in Chinese and English literature, this review shows that Chinese scholars are searching for an "ideal urban form model", which is built on historical studies on reform and reconstruction of urban form and borrowing classic theories from the West, while researchers in the West are currently searching for operational knowledge about a "sustainable urban form" and exploring the development policy and planning approach towards sustainability. Looking into the outcomes of the rapid contemporary urbanization in China, the "ideal urban form model" is problematic due to its ignorance of the smoothness and continuity in spatial change and the unique local cultural context in China, which led to general spatial and social conflicts between the new and old districts and the disappearing of historical and cultural blocks. Therefore, this paper suggests that further efforts should be made on studying local, micro-scale morphological pattern, in order to provide constructive knowledge within a framework that crosses time-space dimensions. Therefore more inclusive and sustainable urban forms could be achieved in the future planning and management practices.

Key words: urban form, urban morphology, urban structure, spatial pattern, review, China

CLC Number: 

  • TU984