ISSUES2016 No.2
Editor’s Note: After holding the Working Conference on Cities at the end of 2015, which advocates for China’s sustainable urban development approaches including transforming development mode, completing governance institution, enhancing governance capability, and coping with certain urgent issues such as urban diseases, the Central Government of China issued an affiliated policy in late February 2016, Some Opinions on Further Enhancing the Administration on Urban Planning and Construction, which puts forward some concrete guidelines for China’s urban development and construction, such as enhancing the authority of urban planning, reshaping the local identity of cities, upgrading the architectural quality of buildings, promoting energy-saving in construction, improving public and societal services, creating amiable living environment, and innovating urban governance. The document also implies a critical transition of China’s urban planning from land-increment-based to land-stock-based, with more focus on regional coordination at the macro-level and spatial reconfiguration at the micro-level, for more intensive land use and higher quality of urban development. It makes the urban regeneration of old cities, old industrial areas, and old villages an important strategy for land-stock-based urban development, during the process of which urban design can undoubtedly play a more significant role than ever before. This might be a big challenge to the traditional top-down urban planning approach, but a good opportunity as well to reform it to better meet the bottom-up demands, making participatory or communicative planning a possible approach to dealing with the new situations. At the same time, it is interesting to notice that, while many of the arguments stated in this document were highly appreciated by both the academia and the society, in particular those regarding architectural and urban design, such as the new architectural principle of being appropriate, economical, green, and beautiful for the purpose of promoting energy-saving, land-saving, water-saving, material-saving, and environmental friendliness in construction, some others evoked broad debates among the public, in particular those concerning the interests of individuals, such as the suggestion of opening the existing gated residential super-blocks into several small-scale blocks to improve the urban circulation system. In spite of the different opinions, or even fierce disputes, among various stakeholders, this kind of open debates indicates an increasing concern of the society on urban planning, which is important to promote participatory or communicative planning.

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