Vertical Cities

The Chinese Society for Urban Studies (CSUS), the Center for Design & the City at the American Architectural Foundation (AAF), and OTIS hosted the first Sino-U.S. City Design Summit in Zhuhai, China, July 16–17, 2013. The Summit was held in conjunction with the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development’s 2013 Conference on Urban Development and Planning. The Conference drew an audience of more than 1,500 Chinese mayors, government officials, developers, and city planners. At the Summit, delegate Benjamin Ward of Gensler contrasted failed policies of the past with nine principles for sustainable city development. 

As China’s urban population races toward 1 billion, the past 30 years of planning policies are starting to show signs of strain. The human scale and energetic street life inherent in China’s historical centers are making way for sprawling “super suburbs” where the car is king and social urban communities are all but being dissolved.

We will outline four failed policies: Urban Displacement, Setbacks, Gated Communities, and Daylight, all of which are contributing to socially and environmentally unsustainable cities of the future. We will suggest nine principles for sustainable cities using current projects to highlight a path to better communities. Our approach is “Context-Driven Design” rather than “Code-Driven Planning.”

Benjamin Ward is the Regional Design Director for Gensler in Asia. For the last 19 years he has practiced on three continents designing for multiple typologies and scales. His seven years of experience in China has provided him with unique insight into the issues surrounding the growth of cities and the drawbacks to current government policy. He currently lives in Shanghai and is directing projects in the Philippines and greater China.

Gensler is a global architecture, design, planning, and strategic consulting firm that specializes in a wide range of buildings and facilities owned or used by businesses, institutions, and public agencies. Its services engage the full building cycle from initial planning through design, implementation, and management. It focuses on its clients, understands their goals and strategies, and seeks to add substantial value to their enterprise through its work and services.

Featured image of Chengdu, China, courtesy of Cdwaer.

Share | Print
Posted in: AAF Culture, Center for Design & the City, Design Leadership, Economic Development, Health + Wellness, Infrastructure, Media Type, Partnerships, Preservation, Print, Public Spaces, Sustainability, Technology, Transportation
  • Support AAF