The PennDesign China Research Program

Principal Investigator: Richard Weller, Martin and Margy Meyerson Chair of Urbanism and Professor and Chair of Landscape Architecture

Co-Principal Investigators: Marilyn Jordan Taylor, Dean; John Landis, Professor in the Department of City & Regional Planning; Stefan Al, Associate Professor of Urban Design; Randy Mason, Professor and Chair of the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation and Executive Director of PennPraxis; Nancy Davenport, Assistant Professor of Fine Arts, Photography

Lead School: School of Design

Penn Partners: Carnegie Mellon-Penn Center for Safe and Effective Transportation Technologies (T-SET); Penn Institute for Urban Research (PIUR); School of Engineering and Applied Science; The Wharton School; School of Arts and Sciences; Penn Museum; Penn Design (Departments of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning, City and Regional Planning, Fine Arts, and Architecture, as well as the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation)

Chinese Partners: Tongji University; AECOM; Beijing Forestry University; Southeast University; Xi’an University of Architecture & Technology; South China Agricultural University; Chongqing University; Chinese University of Hong Kong; University of Hong Kong; Peking University; Tsinghua University; World Heritage Institute of Training and Research for Asia and the Pacific

Other Partners: Lee Kuan Yew World Cities Program; Center for Livable Cities Singapore; Urban Land Institute, Asia

Project Abstract

The PennDesign Research Program brings together faculty from across PennDesign to work on China-related initiatives in urbanization, design, and landscape architecture revolving around several key research questions:

1. What is the status of architectural, art, and urban preservation in contemporary Chinese culture, how does conservation contribute to contemporary Chinese cities, and how do Chinese ideas and policies for conservation relate to contemporary global practices?

2. In what ways can the application of design thinking  address complex urban issues and improve the social, ecological and economic performance of Chinese cities? How can the concept of megaregional planning, urban design and governance help address the rapid urbanization, industrial obsolescence, failing infrastructure, and environmental degradation in Chinese cities and regions?

3. What are the implications of exporting China’s particular model of urbanization to incongruous contexts like the African continent, and how can urban design and planning retool their dominant means, methods and theories to avoid, or at least assuage, the severe environmental, social and economic repercussion that often companion these highly speculative urbanization pursuits?

4. What constitutes public space in China and how is public space embodied? How has contemporary art and landscape architecture in China responded to Chinese urbanization and the discourse of public space, with particular reference to the body?

5. What is the role of landscape architecture in the advancement of the Chinese government’s policy of creating a ‘Beautiful China’, and how can this role be improved in relation to the ongoing urbanization of the nation?