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Title: Evolution, form and public use of central pedestrian districts in large Chinese cities
Author: Yang, Zhen
ISNI:       0000 0004 2749 0222
Awarding Body: Cardiff University
Current Institution: Cardiff University
Date of Award: 2009
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Along with the transition of major Western cities from production bases to consumption places over recent decades, urban public spaces have been increasingly manipulated by urban governments and developers as an effective 'tool' to promote commercial activities and events, and to attract more consumers, investment and developments. In the face of this trend, on the one hand the positive contributions of consumerist culture to the revitalisation of city life have been recognised and credited; while on the other hand, critics have discussed the negative effects of consumption powers in the shaping of public space, arguing that the 'publicness' of many contemporary public spaces is likely to diminish in the interest of mass consumerist culture (i.e., 'the critique of loss'). Chinese cities have experienced great transformations since the late 1970s. The central areas of many large cities have been developed into Central Pedestrian Districts (CPDs) which are public spaces of the city but with strong consumption and development pursuits. Similar to their Western counterparts, these CPDs receive 'the critique of loss' which discusses the predominant role of commercial and managerial considerations in the shaping of these places, largely discovering the 'negative effects' of mass consumerist culture on public space and public life. On the other hand, however, many of the Western critics seem to ignore the 'positive contributions' of consumerist culture to urban life, imposing a generalised and over-pessimistic verdict on contemporary Chinese public space, while without fully examining the complexities and varieties in the history and reality of China's central urban spaces (e.g., their extent of publicness in earlier periods, their current detailed physical forms and social uses, etc.). This thus creates the doubt about the applicability of the Western critiques in Chinese urban contexts, particularly on China's CPDs. With this inquiry, this thesis presents a comprehensive survey of China's four leading CPDs (Wang Fujing in Beijing, Nanjing Road in Shanghai, Central Street in Harbin, and Xin Jiekou in Nanjing) and a detailed case study on the largest CPD of China (Jie Fangbei in Chongqing). By so doing, the thesis tests both the consistency and discrepancy between Western theoretical critiques and the actual conditions of these CPDs. In particular, the thesis explores how these five CPDs have historically developed, and how they are physically constituted and socially used today. Attention focuses upon the political-economic aspects in their development, and also upon users' daily behaviours in public spaces. The main theoretical bases underpinning these examinations and discussions come from urban-design domain, but embrace political-economic and environmental and behavioural design perspectives. In the final analysis, the thesis tries to establish a more comprehensive and socially and culturally specific evaluation on the public nature of these CPDs, and it provides a series of recommendations regarding the design and management of CPDs, in order to enhance their future performance in sustaining better public uses.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available