Design of neighborhoods in China



From the beginning of human civilization, people have never stopped pursuing living environment and urban construction. As science and technology civilization developed, the city has been built better and better, streets, buildings, green park and residential area formed a whole city. The most basic form of people living is a neighborhood and neighborhoods in different forms and in different sizes make up the entire city. We can say the neighborhood is the basic component of a city.



End of the nineteenth century, English sociologist and designer Ebenezer Howard introduced a new method of urban planning “Garden City”. “Garden City” combines the city’s high efficiency, highly active city life and beautiful rural scenery, trying to get rid of the plight faced by urban development, which is a city designed for health, life and production that is able to meet people’s rich daily social life. With the planning and construction of Welwyn Garden City near London and a series of garden villages and garden cities at the beginning of the early twentieth century, the ideal of “garden city” has become a reality. The current neighborhoods design follows several principles, such as walking distance is controlled within 400 meters, have a clear center and identifiable edges, mixture of people and land use, and the control of streets size. These design concepts and principles have been widely applied to the neighborhoods design of various regions in the country; according to local conditions, the development fits for the local community.



However, in developing countries like China, the theory and ideology of “neighborhoods design” has not been widely accepted and promoted. Since ancient times, China has its own theory of urban construction and development, especially in the residential neighborhoods. The Chinese traditional living form is “walled enclosed” and “closed courtyard”, and people’s living tradition is isolating living space from external environment with a wall, forming introverted life courtyard.



And now, the neighborhoods building in China has become commercial gradually, construction companies are trying to get the city’s best location, and then build high quality residential neighborhoods, in order to obtain high returns. In the process, the developers often do not take into account the overall coordination of the city development, and do not follow the principles of neighborhoods design to develop sustainable neighborhoods. In my opinion, the city streets in China are made of different commodity neighborhoods or residential apartments, and each individual is completely independent and has their own style and mode of development that all are developing by depending on the urban commercial center as the center. In contrast to principle of neighborhoods design that the scope is controlled within walking 400 meters, in many cities, due to growing demand for urban development, the city limits are constantly expanding to the surrounding, which often leads to the situation that many neighborhoods share a regional center within the range of a large region. All neighborhoods are isolated from the outside world with fences and guards to ensure the safety of residents, so neighborhoods are individuals of relatively independent presence. The roads in neighborhoods and urban roads are isolated by walls into two road systems, and usually only residents are allowed to use the roads in neighborhoods. Neighborhoods road system is not integrated into the urban road system, and urban road often change its development model because of the presence of neighborhoods, making the entire urban road system is forced to change around the shape of neighborhoods.

In short, because of China’s own national conditions and development, the theory of neighborhoods design not applicable in China. We can base on design principles, combined with the development requirements of the city itself, identify the suitable development model.


Howard, Ebenezer, Author’s Introduction and The Town-Country Magnet,  The City Reader, pp.328-335.

Miao Xu and Zhen Yang, 2009, Design history of China’s gated cities and neighbourhoods: Prototype and evolution, Urban Design International 14 (2), pp. 99-117

Gated Community: Safety or Not?


When we talking about the future trend of community design, one of the patterns is enjoying its popularity, which is gated community. Gated neighborhoods seems could give residents the sense of security, their style are easy to be copied, which can save a lot of costs. However, there are still some shortcomings of this kind of developing style.

Actually gated community does not only happened in developing countries, but also popular in many other countries all over the word, and now as a trend that may meeting the acquirements of market. Besides, there are a lot of features, or we can call it themes that may add on the gated community. Some of them can be equipped with tradition elements, such as Vanke Fifth Garden in Shanghai and Shenzhen, China, property developer gave these gated communities a theme from Chinese traditional architectural and landscape pattern to make them more attractive, but those housing price are also rising from it.


Gates provide security and separation for the leisure activities and amenities within the life style communities. In Sunbelt areas in America, such as southern California and Florida, this pattern of community remains most common but also can be found through the country. Residents’ primary motivation of choice is recreational facilities provided, such as golf, and security is the a secondary reason. But the main reason for people to choose to live in gated community is the sense of security, but the fact is that the evidence of crime rate varied by area but not between gated and ungated neighborhoods in the same area. The “sense of security” seems does not have any impact on crime. Besides, even some of those security guards are not taking this work seriously. Some of the residents even believed those sense of security too much and leave their doors and windows opened when they are not present.

The Survey of the Perception of Gates as a Factor in Reducing Crime360截图20150107223131924

Another effect I would like to talk about is gated community is one of the factor that speed up social fragmentation. The case from Jehova’s Witnesses tells us some of the neighborhoods guards ignored the require of visitors’ access. The actions like these stopped the communication with the world outside, and makes the society became separated apart.


Blakely, E.J, and M.G. Snyder. “Separate Places: Crime and Security in gated sommunities.” In: M. Felson and R.B. Peister, Reducing crime through real estate development and management, pp. 53-70.

Jehovah’s Witnesses Win Access to Gated Communities, Lifeboat Morality, by Jim Newman, Available at

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