Why study abroad?
After my bachelor education in China and exchange study with internship in Europe, I want to go to US to experience different design culture.
Is there anything happened impressed you?
A large amount of people, regardless of age, are fighting for their dreams.
What do you miss about China?
Family and friends
Will you come back? Why?
For sure, it is somehow because of a sense of cultural belonging. Actually, for short period, I have been back to China several times a yearcurrently; while for long-term plan of back to China, it isstill in planning.
Is it more distinct to view China in a different environment after going abroad? Any thought?
I am not sure the term of “more distinct”, but it is true that it turns out to be more “multi-perspectives” to view China, especially its urbanization procedure.
What is your favorite artist (in wider range such as art, music, movie)?What is the influence?
Honestly, I have been temperamental for the artist who I admire during the past 20 years of painting. While for the one who inspires me greatly on my thesis is Walter Christaller, a German geographer rather than a fine artist, who came up with Central Place Theory and proposed new settlementpatterns in Eastern Europe.
Why switch disciplinefrom architecture to urban planning and design and what are the inputs from this change?
I was fascinated by the aerial scenes of the cities and have been very much interested in urban form. So initially I had an impulsion to learn how todesign a city which was realized as a delusion after learning urban planning and design. City is an extremely complicated system, so in a word, design a city is almost impossible. For me, urban planning and design is more to think of a pattern, provide guidelines and design urban fabrics or districts. Now besides design itself, I am also very much into urban theories.
What kinds of research issues you focus most currently?Why?
I have three major focuses recently that I firmly believe worthy of research considering the current urban context of China: 1)Megalopolis / Mega-region — Explore the changing of the interdependency and independency among the compositional cities of megalopolisand try to understand how these inter-relationship changing informs urban planning and design, and architecture design decisions that further reconfiguresthe urban image of the entire metropolitan region. Research how to keep theidentities of the citiesprevalent the integration of the entire region. 2) Town and township — Extend my thesis research and design and continuously search the most suitable urban planning and design strategies for town/township development. 3) Urban Grids— Develop it as a method for designing the city. A related book will be published in next January.
Please describethe educational characteristics the school you attended.
Three characteristics of Harvard GSD impressed me most: 1) high promotion of cross-disciplinary communication 2) full solicitude from social and environmental dimension 3) the tolerance of different perspectives and positive discussion
When did you start to surf on gooood? Any suggestions?Thanks : )
I have been hearing gooood from my friend for a long time. Recently I started browsing. I find the info sharing by albums is pretty interesting. My suggestion is that besides sharing the thoughts and design by singular designer or scholar, it would be better if gooood can bring or sharemore discussions by a group of designers and scholars.
IN SEARCH OF NEW PARADIGM OF URBANIZATION IN CHINA
Harvard University Graduate School of Design Urban Planning and Design Thesis Prize’2014
Townization is a project that provides an innovative research withplanning and design proposal for town-township development in current China. Advocating from “city making” to “town making”, my thesis commits to the issue of “Townization” by interpretingthree salient questions: 1) why thetown-ization” has been set as an alternative urbanization paradigm of China? 2) howto shape the “urban-rural landscape” and deal the relation between “the countryside” and “the urban area”, with stressing town-township? 3) whatare the suitable urban planning strategies and design approaches for Chinese town and townshipswith their net¬workpattern can effectively implemented and contribute to reconfiguring Chinese new towns?
Although the benefit of agglomera¬tion has been hugely emphasized by the central government which led to the majority of amenities and services are only in cities and the household-registration system (Hukou) equipped the city with more advantages, the exclusively focus on “megacity-making” eventually leads tothe mega-city problems, environmental deterioration and the urban-rural disparity. Based on my preliminary empirical research and data analyses, I come to a conclusion that the above three major urban problems, together with the country’s continuous demand of urbanization to stimulate the economic development of China, are the four top important reasons that urge for central government’s policy reorientation.(In the follow¬ing 10 years, the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China estimates around 300 million will continuously be added to China’s urban population by 2025, close to the population of today’s United States.)
As a strong response to those four issues, the thesis provides a new “Town Network” as the complementary network of the existing “City Network”, together constitute the new “Urban Network” of China. The new proposed town network consists of 19683 existing designated towns. The efficiently planned, designed and managed town network can help absorb the 300 million potential becoming urban populations (15-year target of the new central government), release the pressure of large cities, provide alternative lifestyle for the citizens and deeply stimulate the development of surrounding rural areas and even help the surrounding cities.
I strongly argue that China’s townization should base on the existing towns and the primary task is to upgrading the existing towns, instead of creatingnew towns in the mid of nowhere. Further, the thesis examines a series of existing successful town precedents, including the famous river towns, historical towns and TVE (Township-Village Enterprise) towns, and then generates a set of fundamental planning and design principles for China’s town making proposals. These principles take into account demographic and population criteria, scale, suitable distance to major cities, and appropriate support industries.
The thesis translates its quantitative and qualitative analysis and its policy and spatial research into concrete urban design projects on two experimental sites. Through two specific projects, my thesis tries to demonstrate during this emergent “Townization”, how the ur¬ban design and its strategies can contribute to helping drastically and sustainably improve built environment and at the same time reduce the environmental pollu¬tion, protect the agricultural land and nature resource in order to achieve the improvement of quality of the town life.
The first project, Xiaoyi New Town, locates inin Bengbu-Huainan region, Anhui Province, where remains one of the provinces with lowest urban¬ization rate around Chinese-central and Chinese-east region. In Anhui Province around Huai River, existed numerous villages and small townsmainly depend on agriculture. Xiaoyi Town is a town with population of 46266 and among whom, 92.6% are doing agri-culture. This is a very typicalcondition of China that the rural town needs to be retrofitted and upgrade to modern town. So it is an exemplary case of rural consolidation where village clusters are being transformed into a newmodern agriculture town. Through the procedure of upgrading from a labor intensive agriculture town to an indus¬trialized agriculture town release 57.5% surplus labor which can be townized into new industries. And with same process the part of land could be also townized into other landuse rather than agricul¬ture land.Hydrology strategy, landscape strategy, transportation strategy and architecture strategy are four main strategies as the response to the four fundamental principles.
The second is Beijiazao New Town in Great Datong Region, Shanxi Province, the region that is famous for its mining industry, especially the coal. Bei¬jiazao Town has 55.5% of non-urban ratio and contrastingly only 5.17% are doing agriculture, instead, the major population there are involved in coal business. Now the decreasing of the coal production pushes the town to search for a new industry. And coincidently, Greater Datong Area is also famous for its solar resource. Now the development and upgrading of the town turns out to be the issue of industry trans¬formation. Landscape dissolving strategy, multifunctional grid system, new energy generation strategy and architecture strategy are four main strategies could be addressed in this half-abandoned town to set an experimental town that will be generally upgrad¬ed into a solar town. This is an extreme case that the town undergoes industrial transformation from traditional coal dependent villages to a renewable energy dependent town.
In conclusion, thesis comes to five key suggestions for the urban planning and design strategies for the implementation of “Townization” policy: (1)
Primarily about upgrading the existing towns and townships in China (2) Within the interconnection of the larger urban network by faster
transportation infrastructure (3) Standard Living of small scale with proficient technology and amenities (4) Offering an alternative lifestyle for both
urban and rural population (5) Local and suitable industry rather than resource extraction and pure raw agriculture production and providing the local
When: 2012 – present
Where: Boston, MA and San Francisco, CA
Who: Dingliang Yang 杨丁亮
From: Wuxi, China
School and Office: Harvard Graduate School of Design