A Walkable City – Yuncheng, China

A Walkable City – Yuncheng, China

A design thesis project for the future development of Yuncheng, China, especially about the concept of 'walking' in China's smaller cities.

Ziwen Sun, Beijing, China

This project looks at the future of Yuncheng in China. In the light ofthe critical global issue for urban design – urban sprawl. It then goes on to suggest a different approach – the development of the walkable city.

As the rapid development of economy in China, the urbanisation tends to be increasingly fast. More specially, over half of the Chinese population live in urban areas (more than 7 hundred million people live in Chinese cities), and Chinese cities change day by day becoming bigger and biggerThe importance of the study of Chinese cities becomes more and more urgent. This study particularly looks about architecture and urban design.

As an urban designer, the most important thing is about foresight for the future of cities, and then to solve issues in the present. Gehl (p.9, 2010) demonstrated “first we shape the cities – then they shape us” [2]. As a result, it is serious responsibility of urban designers. Besides, cities are extremely complex and complicated, which means that the research should include a broad knowledge of other disciplines to understand the meanings behind the city.

Therefore, it will start from social sustainability and link to economical and environmental sustainability to analyse the disadvantages of urban sprawl in cities. Meanwhile, the thesis will compare the theory of walkable and compact cities to explain the future pattern of Chinese cities, particular about Yuncheng. On the other hand, it is also a global issue – the influence of a transforming transportation, and can be related a wide range of disciplines - human being, sociology, economics, psychology and medical science etc.

However, thesis will only focus on 2 points – the influences and transforming of transportation to discuss a future city in China, which should be compact and walkable. It can be argued that the theory is appropriate to a majority of cities in the world. Besides, as urbanisation develops rapidly and over half population has lived in cities, the research is a shift of profound importance, particular in China - populous countries.

In China, rapid urbanisation seems to bring many benefits to various aspects for local residents. However, a majority of Chinese cities depend on the knowledge of America or Europe to develop; the result of city development has also brought a series of urban problems. For instance, one of the worst urban issues to emerge in a majority of Chinese cities, is urban sprawl, as it has happened in America and Europe. This phenomenon has impacted or destroyed a huge number of cities in the world, especially of megalopolis as the Chinese dream – rapid urbanisation.

Therefore, the project will look at the special issue from a global level in the beginning, and try to understand what the advantages and disadvantages of urban sprawl are, and why it will happen in the Chinese future, how to avoid or reduce the urban crisis.

On the other hand, Yuncheng is a typical urban development as a majority of Chinese cities. Its history can be tracked back to 3000 years ago [3]. However, the city centre is completely new as American cities.

And also, Yuncheng is my hometown, which I can understand profoundly the transforming of the city. That is to say, the project can compare the global issue in a local level to study, and propose appropriate strategies for the sustainable development of Yuncheng.

Consequently, the project will include three main sections.


Ziwen Sun, Beijing, China

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