media & writing
My work has been featured in a number of articles in the media in both English and Chinese.
China Rethinks Cities – China is rethinking its urbanization. Although the rapid growth of the nation’s cities helped lift hundreds of millions of people out of rural poverty, the breakneck pace has created urban sprawl, car-dependency, massive traffic jams, skyrocketing emissions, sedentary lifestyles, and cityscapes lacking character or individuality. In February, national authorities adopted new urbanization guidelines that should, over time, lead to more compact cities with denser networks of narrow streets, more pedestrian and cycling lanes, better public transport, mixed-use zoning, and more green space. Planners and developers don’t have to look outside China for examples to follow. Many neighborhoods within China’s major cities provide home-grown examples of urbanization done right.
New Urbanization Guidelines Set to Fix China’s Cities – These guidelines were based on case studies of the Pearl District of Portland, Oregon and Hammarby Sjöstad in Stockholm, and were put together by a small team of urban designers — CC Huang, Chris Busch, Hal Harvey, Dongquan He, Edward Qu — along with input from over 100 experts in all aspects of urban development, including developers, government officials, and investors.
The Energy Transition Show
Episode 28: Transition in Cities – It is widely assumed that the ongoing migration of rural peoples to mega-cities all over the world will help reduce humanity’s per-capita energy footprint, while giving people a higher standard of living and accelerating energy transition. But the world is full of old, inefficient cities in desperate need of an eco-makeover, and of experts who understand the principles of “smart urbanization” and who can help identify how to transform a city from brown and dumb to smart and green. What’s the potential for replacing concrete with living things in cities? How can autonomous and electric vehicles help make cities cleaner and more livable? Why isn’t China promoting its phenomenal success with e-bikes to the rest of the world? Is China’s commodity demand going to continue to weaken as it moves away from a manufacturing economy? And will the emissions it was generating just move elsewhere when it does? All these questions and more are answered in this wide-ranging conversation with an expert on smart urbanization and China.
China’s urban policy unit just met for the first time in 38 years. Here’s what it recommended – On 21 February, when China’s State Council released a new set of urban development guidelines, it backtracked on many of the conventions that have defined the past two decades of rampant urbanisation. These new guidelines aim to produce a framework which will revamp and revitalise China’s cities – to create urban areas that have improved navigability, tighter-knit communities, better access to commercial and public areas, and are less resource intensive.
The Paper (Chinese)
In The Paper, I facilitated the publication of half a dozen articles that go into detail on green urban development by giving examples and case studies of mixed-use, transit-oriented development, and other important urban design principles. This article is the first one that discusses why we undertook the task of defining green and smart urban development. English version here.
当说“绿色”、“智慧”时，我们在说什么：绿色智慧城市探讨 – 即使是一个极好的想法，在实施过程中也难免总是遭遇重重困难。中国的绿色城市就遇到这样的窘境。有专家指出，中国的生态城市规划“还不成熟”。去年，在一次生态城市会议上，一位政府官员就已历时三年的低碳城市试点工作表示：“没啥亮点，真没啥亮点。”而中外媒体也常将“鬼城”和“生态城”相提并论。引发上述情绪的原因颇多。地方政府的卖地收入已今非昔比，高举生态城市开发的大旗，却能获取不少补贴。但是，创建真正的绿色城市，需要投入更多时间，进行更周密的规划，而开发商显然不愿这么做。还有人认为，在生态城市中只注重基础设施建设，是本末倒置，而在与生活质量息息相关的其他方面，如教育、医疗卫生及其他社会服务等，却都不够重视。也有人说，城市需要时间完善成熟，批评者都是期望过高，过分急于求成了。
China’s Green and Smart Opportunity – What makes a great city? The breadth and diversity of the C40 network might suggest that the unique circumstance of each city’s development makes it difficult to generalize. And yet years of urban planning experience have allowed experts to extract some basic principles on what a great city entails. Great cities have great parks. Great cities have fantastic public transit systems. Great cities are built for people, not cars. Great cities are sustainable.
Three Steps to Making the New Urban Agenda Implementable – In one of the most famous books on self-improvement, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey wrote, “Begin with the end in mind.” Sun Tzu, in The Art of War, says, “Plan for what is difficult while it is easy, do what is great while it is small.” These two pearls of wisdom should be applied to urban planning and development. There are small tweaks to urban blueprints or policies that can have humongous impacts on the final form and function of the urban area.
Smart Cities Dive
There of the World’s Best Cities for People – A new Energy Innovation report, Cities for People in Practice, compares three sustainably developed communities that offer successful examples of the “cities for people” approach to urban development. The three neighborhoods—located in Guangzhou, China; Stockholm, Sweden; and Freiburg, Germany—are located in very different countries and cultures. Yet each of these districts has a handful of common elements that has made the neighborhood a model of sustainable urban form:
Connect 4 Climate
12 Design Principles for a New Urban Default – City life in today’s China is taking new shapes. Chenggong, a new city district outside of Kunming, is being built in small blocks to tilt transportation towards walking and away from driving. Board a bus in Guangzhou, and the doors open all at once in subway-like fashion before the bus motors down an exclusive BRT lane, cutting congestion and costs. Other neighborhoods, such as Liuyun Xiaoqu, are reinventing their cityscapes by creating car-free zones where pedestrians can walk and shop without the hazards and omnipresent pollution of cars.