Urban Harmonious and Sustainable Development in Europe and China, Shanghai, 23 March 2012 - 中欧社会论坛 - China Europa Forum

Urban Harmonious and Sustainable Development in Europe and China, Shanghai, 23 March 2012

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Urban Harmonious and Sustainable Development in Europe and Shanghai, 23 March, 2012

“How did the concept of ‘Sustainable Cities’ appear?”, “What are the strategies for low-carbon cities in urban planning?”, “Learning from folklores and traditions in urban planning”, “New towns around Shanghai”, “Public spaces in cities and functions of sidewalks, “Urban community”, “Land use and urban transportation”, “Urban design for public life”, ”Roles of inhabitants in urban management”, “Security problems in cities”, and “Green buildings for sustainable dense city”….

These were the topics discussed in the roundtable entitled “Urban Harmonious and Sustainable Development in Europe and China” which was held in Tongji University (Shanghai, China) on 23 March, 2012. The roundtable, initiated and supported by China-Europa Forum and organised by Tongji University, was a continued exchange of workshops T41a, T41b, T41d, T41e and T46c with themes revolving around City, Territory and Sustainable Development. Sixteen discussants from China, Europe and the United States with wide range background in architecture, urban planning, and sociology, participated in the discussion.

This over-eight-hour long meeting was the first step of a long-term and prolific collaboration in 2012. A joint publication of the project was put forward as a proposition to start a collaboration between experts from China (an extremely dynamic urban laboratory) and Europe (a laboratory of a post-urbanisation period) to better understand the qualities and the limits of the concept of “Sustainable Cities.”

Workshops Involved:
T41a - Urban Design and Management: Sustainable and Eco-city Community
T41b - Conservation of Urban Heritage and the Renewal of Old Cities
T41d - Urban Development and City Governance
T41e - City, Traffic and Energy
T46c - Roles of Inhabitants in the Management of Urban Communities

“The environmental future of the planet is closely linked to the management of our cities, towns and villages. …The relationship between the environment and human settlements is like the proverbial chicken and egg paradox. Good environmental governance requires good urban governance and vice versa.”
- Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka, former Executive Director, UN-HABITAT

Julien Woessner
Architect; Responsable de programme, Fondation Charles Léopold Mayer pour le Progrès de l’Homme (FPH);
European Prime Mover of T41a

“There are two key elements of urban development in Europe: the 1933 Athen’s Charter and 1994 Aalborg’s Charter. Between these two moments, there were 60 years of very intensive urban development in Europe. And beyond the 60 years, there is the complete inversion of main principles which are used to plan cities.

It is interesting that the concept of Sustainable Development in Europe was not originated from academic network but from the political network.

Europe, with fifty years of urban development, made a lot of mistakes, but there are also some lessons to be shared. China is an extremely dynamic laboratory of contemporary urban development, which is expected to find solutions for sustainable development in future.

Sustainable city exists neither in China nor in Europe, and it is a common challenges and co-responsibilities for both societies.”

Pascaline Gaborit
Director, the European New Towns Platform (ENTP);
European Prime Mover of T41a

“New Towns have been created in Europe after World War II in response to an anarchic urban growth, a strong demographic growth and the congestion in major metropolitan area. The aim was to create a balanced territorial development.

Challenges faced by new towns: the lack of good transport infrastructures, the lack of centrality, low urban density, the lack of a sense of community, the lack of architectural coherence, the need for regeneration, the growing number of an ageing population, and social exclusion.

Priorities: urban regeneration, sustainable development and social cohesion.

A breeding ground for sustainable development: Influence of garden cities, transport, communities, and environmental policies.”

Haixiao PAN
Professor, Department of Urban Planning, College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Tongji University;
Chinese Prime Mover of T41e

“1.Five-D Models for the land use and urban transportation in spatial planning:


People/Pedestrian >Bicycle>Transit>Image-Improvement>Car

2. Regional planning should be oriented by mass rapid transit (MRT).

3. Cities must be a bicycle-friendly environment with a well-established connection to the rapid public transit system.
A city that abandons bicycles will lose its future.

4. Information and modern communication are crucial to create an effectively functional and flexible city.

5. A transit system is based on the Central Place Theory to the Inter Nested Theory in urban planning.

6. The development of large-scale public facilities should be tied into the public transport hubs.

7. The development intensity depends on the accessibility of the public transportation.”

Renbiao ZHANG
Deputy Director, Chinese Urban Sociology Society;
Professor, School of Political Science and International Relations, Tongji University;
Chinese prime mover of T41d

“The development of cities and towns are closely connected to the development of society as a whole. We agree that in this process, there are issues of the space justice which involves the sharing of natural resources (such as land and landscape), social resources (such as education and healthcare), urban renewal, demolition and relocation, as well as the protection of cultural heritage and the rights of residence and free movement.

To uphold space justice, we should first return to the people-oriented development rather than persisting on the technology-oriented advancement. We should follow the path of sustainable development by throwing out the consumerism, dispel cultural shock, and head for building a harmonious society.”

“Everywhere you can see, they don’t care about the materials,” “The material is not just about materials. Inside it has the people’s experience, memory - many things inside. So I think it’s for an architect to do something about it.”
- Shu WANG, the first Chinese architect who received Pritzker Prize in 2012

Roger Trancik
Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture, Cornell University;
Urban designer, environmental planner and landscape architect

“It is crucial to combine education, research and practice in urban planning and design. It is essential to collaborate between disciplines.

We work with the people at local communities and set up offices on site. We really need to respect natural and cultural heritage.

A city needs fabric of streets, squares and parks, and a good finger ground relationship, good linkage, and good quality of place.

We should shift attitude from City of Objects to City of Fabric.”

Harry den Hartog
Designer, Researcher, Editor, Urban Language for Urban and Rural Studies

“Themed towns are an attempt to attract residents. This is an encouraging sign and a first small step towards social and political normality. It is obviously no longer enough to command people to move within a given timeframe. People want to be attracted.”

Remi Ferrand
Urban Planner and Engineer - Architect

“Sometimes, being at the edge may be stronger than being at the centre of the city.

Three goals for Economical Land Use in Edge:
- Continuity-green space connections;
- The space should not be considered as empty;
- Characteristics of the Edge.”

Edwin CHAN
Professor, Faculty of Construction and Environment, Building and Estate Department, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Associate Professor, College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Tongji University

“With the increasing urban sprawl, a sound spatial distribution of urban population has become an important issue. It is also worth noting that the true Chinese population is much larger than the registered population shown in the Chinese household registration system (hukou).

Since 2006, China’s private housing rate has exceeded those in Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States.”

Research Institute of Urban-sociology Society Tongji University

“In the concept of public space, sidewalks have critical functions in urban lives. The informal life and its tie to sidewalks enable the existence of urban communities. Yet, in reality, they are undervalued in urban planning. Sidewalk-based communities go beyond the traditional zoning. Sidewalks need to be included when designing an urban community where the majority of people are the senior people, safety and essential infrastructure must be taken into account.”

“Only by understanding the rich social organization of the sidewalk, in all its complexity, might citizens and politicians appreciate how much is lost when we accept the idea that the presence of a few broken windows justifies tearing down the whole informal structure.”
- Mitchell Duneier, American sociologist

Jiang WU
Professor, Vice President, Tongji University

“The most important matter in China related to sustainable development is land resource limitation. In the past 30 years, the central and local governments have always tried to focus on how to save the land, though development in China has a lot of problems related to land usage. In the academic sense, the land use planning must be part of the urban planning, while in China, the land use planning goes before urban planning.

The interchange between different people as the China-Europa Forum does today is very necessary and important. Now we are facing a new era when we should start to think about new sense of value and morality.”

Zhenguo WANG
Professor, Shanghai Urban Planning and Management Institute;
Chief Editor, Urban Management

“City management plays an increasingly important role in urbanisation and it seemingly has reached a turning point. In China, the urban management attaches too much to administration; while in most other countries, welfare is the top priority of city governments. It is proved that neither of the approaches works successfully.

Therefore, as a paradigm of the public service, city management in future should return to Public Reason which is based on equality, justice, science and jurisprudence. It should involve the participation of the government, the market, NGOs and citizens, and allow synergy of different actors. We should also establish more suitable long-term mechanisms for the market-oriented city management from the perspective of sustainable development.”

Yanjun QIAO
Deputy Director, Information Office, Shanghai City Development Research and Information Centre

“Highly urbanised cities could be very dangerous and the on-going urbanisation will continue to create major security issues. The safety of Mass Transit, high-rise buildings, glass curtain walls and the storage and transportation of flammable, explosive and dangerous chemicals has always been great concerns of residents and may cause anxieties. Many factors should be taken into account in building and maintaining a safer city, including prevention work, the establishment of emergency response system, the use of information technology, and the enhancement in social participation etc.”

Paul LIN Dong
General Manager, You Si Mei Di Design Institute

“In the beginning of the 21st century, for the first time in history, the world’s urban population (50.8%) was more than the rural (49.2%). It is reported that the Chinese urbanisation rate has surpassed 50% as of 2011. However, there has been no single real ecological city in China so far.

An ecological city is a city that provides acceptable living environment for their inhabitants without depleting the ecosystems and biogeochemical cycles on which they depend.

I propose TEN essentials to be considered in eco-city planning: sustainable culture; energy and renewable energy; water resources management; landscape and nature; land and restoration; green transportation; community construction; the use of materials; waste; the management of information system.

Urban planners in China should learn from the west and the folk, and honour both the environment and Chinese traditions.”

Shanghai, Photo: Ronghua

Professor, Vice President, Fuzhou Urban Planning Design Research Institute

“The major problem of today’s urban planning in China is that we focus too much on spatial planning. Urbanisation in terms of space is much faster than the urbanisation of population. Currently, quite a few large cities in China are designed to become international metropolises while small and medium-sized cities seek to grow into national cities. Another problem is that cities throughout the country almost have a uniform appearance because everything is quite standardized.

Urban planning needs to combine science and liberal arts, and honours the past. We should seek wisdom from the Chinese history, such as the employment of Fengshui Theory in city planning.”

Professor, School of International and Public Affairs, Shanghai Jiaotong University

“A multi-actor collaboration is key institutional arrangement for urban renewal in China:

government should take more efforts in investing on infrastructure; enterprises should focus on private investment and bearing economic risk; the role of NGOs is to adjust urban development strategies; and community residents should contribute more to policy suggestions and evaluations.”