The changing role of urban design in China's urban development
The overall objective of the research was to evaluate the performance of the Chinese planning system on design, urban design in particular, and to search for ways to integrate urban design thinking with existing urban planning agendas to improve design control in China. The reason for undertaking this research was due to the general perception that urban design did not play the role that it deserved in China. Despite an increasing number of initiatives, the question of how to address urban design issues in planning and development control remains a source of controversy. Focusing on the Chinese planning system, the research examined the approaches, the procedures, and the general effectiveness of design control in China. The research emphasised more at a local level by taking Guangzhou as a case study. It also evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of the recent urban design initiatives, namely, the Urban Design Plans for specific districts and the Model Community Program. Moreover, the research has examined the British design experience and looked in more detail at the recent experience of Glasgow. The research revealed that the main defects were the incomprehensive design concerns in local policies and plans, the inability of current statutory plans to deal with design issues, the lack of appropriate design guidance, the poor understanding of the local character, and the lack of openness and co-ordination in the planning process. Recent urban design initiatives have generated interest but have achieved limited success due to the lack of strategic level thinking. The examination of the British design experience has offered some valuable lessons. These include the incorporation of urban design principles at all levels of planning, an emphasis on the quality of the public realm, careful and detailed analysis of the local context as the basis for the development of design policy and guidance, and an appreciation of the value of public participation and involvement. Combining this understanding of the inefficiencies of China's design control with the lessons drawn from the British experience, the thesis also makes a number of recommendations for improving China's planning and development control system.