Urban Futures

Chinese informal settlements: rethinking urban futures in the Global South

British Academy project (2017-2018). Professor Fulong Wu (PI), Dr. Fangzhu Zhang (Co-I)


Shanghai, taken in 2016 ®Fulong Wu


Informal settlements are a salient feature of the Global South. But their impacts on the poor are debatable: they are regarded as either a trap within or a pathway out of poverty. Chinese rapid urbanisation has resulted in a proliferation of ‘urban villages’. They are facing large-scale demolition, while new towns are being built in suburbs. This project will critically examine the current practices of urban village redevelopment and rethink the future of Chinese informal settlements to envision an alternative future of urban regeneration. We will select three upgraded villages in Wuhan, Guangzhou and Nanjing as demonstration projects and investigate their current land uses and functions, neighbourhood interaction, governance characteristics, and infrastructure and service provision. The objective is to demonstrate the feasibility of building a more inclusive and participatory city. The project will provide evidence to justify a different urban renewal approach in China and contribute to a new urban agenda under UN-Habitat III.