The City after Chinese New Towns

The City after Chinese New Towns:
Spaces and Imaginaries from Contemporary Urban China

Michele Bonino, Francesca Governa, Maria Paola Repellino, and Angelo Sampieri
Bonino, Michele, Governa, Francesca, Repellino, Maria Paola, and Angelo Sampieri, eds. 2019. The City after Chinese New Towns: Spaces and Imaginaries from Contemporary Urban China. Basel: Birkhäuser.
ISBN 978-3035617658

By 2020, roughly 400 Chinese New Towns will have been built, representing an unprecedented urban growth. The government is making a substantial effort to absorb up to 250 million people, chiefly migrants from rural parts of the country. Unlike in Europe and North America, where new towns grew in parallel with local economies, the construction of contemporary Chinese New Towns is almost completed before people are allowed to move in. As a result, some of these massive developments are already inhabited while others are still empty.


This interdisciplinary publication explores the phenomenon of “Chinese New Towns” based on international research carried out by architects, planners and geographers. It focuses on psychological and social ramifications, for instance how New Towns change perceptions of the neighbourhood and proximity, and analyses how this new urbanity affects politics and the national narrative. The book examines the spaces of three new towns in detail – Tongzhou, Zhaoqing and Zhengdong – and then moves on to investigate both the exceptionality and the ordinariness of Chinese urbanisation. An inspiring photo essay captures the poignant and cheerful moments in the everyday lives of new town residents.


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