Architecture professor sees lessons in changing Chinese cities

In her new book, Changing Chinese Cities: The Potentials of Field Urbanism, UC Berkeley professor of architecture and urban design Renee Chow suggests planners and architects searching for new design strategies to sustain urban identity and promote livability globally may find some answers in China’s cities.

Renee Chow

Architecture professor Renee Chow thinks some important lessons can be learned from what’s happening in Chinese cities. (Photo by Tony Tieu.)

Chow offers case studies, essays, and design explorations of Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin to demonstrate how field urbanism — the ways in which relations, built and urban, can bind and form the experiences of a city — can identify inherent urban and architectural systems that differentiate cities and apply these across sites as well as individual buildings to maintain a region’s distinct, recognizable character.

A founding principal of the Berkeley-based architecture firm Studio URBIS and associate dean for undergraduate studies at Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design, Chow conducted her first fieldwork in the canal villages outside Shanghai in 1980. After the Tiananmen protests, she turned her eye to U.S. suburbs.

Over the last decade, Chow has refocused on Chinese urbanism,researching and designing projects. Changing Chinese Cities is the culmination of her ongoing interest in China and theories on field urbanism. To read more about the book, click here.