mandag 16. mars 2020

China’s poorly planned cities: Urban sprawl and the rural underclass left behind

In recent years, Chinese urban planning and design has often captured international media attention and drawn ridicule. Photo essays have depicted a wide range of urban trends, including tourist theme parks staffed by dwarfs, oversized buildings resembling human figures and inanimate objects, dozens of so-called “copycat towns” modeled on famous foreign cities, and, perhaps most notably, China’s vast “ghost towns,” which are expansive futuristic cities with hardly any residents. Unfortunately, scant attention has been paid to the most serious problem inflicted on China’s cities: urban sprawl.

Urban sprawl, most commonly defined as dispersed, excessive, and wasteful outward urban growth, occurs when urban spatial expansion outstrips the rate of population growth. While in the United States and other Western countries, urban sprawl is often characterized by the growth of suburbs filled with single-family homes, in China, cities are often developed well beyond the urban core, leaving vacant sections in between and requiring the expansion of infrastructure.