• Constructing Utopias: China's Emerging New Town Movement
    Zhongjie Lin

Aerial view of Suzhou Industrial Park, Central Business District, 2006, Suzhou, China. Courtesy of Suzhou Industrial Park Administrative Committee.

China's rapid economic growth and massive urbanization have stimulated ambitious plans of new towns across the country. They are conceived as exemplary pieces of urbanism, showcasing the latest technologies and exploring various planning models (i.e. a themed town or eco-city). This project focuses on the "model new towns" such as the Industrial Park in Suzhou, Shanghai's "One City, Nine Town" program, and the prototype eco-cities in Shanghai and Tianjin, which were designed to establish comprehensive "perfect" environments to promote these mega-cities in the global economy. Structured around the reciprocal relationship between placemaking and social development, this project provides a missing critical perspective by addressing several urbanistic issues including the design of sustainable cities, cultural novelty/identity, and the impact of a stratified social structure on public spaces. It presents a general picture of China's ongoing urbanization through a cross-section of planning practices in this rapidly transforming society.

Zhongjie Lin is an assistant professor of architecture and urbanism at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He received a PhD in architecture from the University of Pennsylvania, and a BArch and an MArch from Tongji University in Shanghai, China. His research focuses on modern architectural avant-garde movements, theories of urban design, and contemporary urbanism in East Asia. He  is the author of Kenzo Tange and the Metabolist Movement: Urban Utopias of Modern Japan (Routledge, 2010), for which he received a Graham Foundation grant, and Urban Design in the Global Perspective (China Architectural & Building Press, 2006). He also published a number of articles in leading periodicals of architecture and planning. His research and publications have been funded by Japan Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, Japan Society for the Promotion of Sciences, the Asian Cultural Council, and the Association of Asian Studies, among other institutes.