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Using a lens of urban fields, Renee Y. Chow describes life in neighborhoods of Beijing, Tianjin, and Shanghai and its canal environs. Detailed observations from courtyard to city are unlayered to reveal the relations that build extended environments. These attributes are then relayered to integrate the emergence of forms that are rooted to a place, providing a new paradigm for urban design and master planning.

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Essays, mappings and case studies demonstrate how the design of fields can be made as compelling as figures. Chow masterfully dissects the urbanist challenges facing Chinese cities that struggle to modernize in ways that are both culturally recognizable and environmentally responsive. In so doing, she provides important new directions for urban design and urban designers in what will become a book that deserves wide attention, discussion and inspired action.

Neither nostalgic nor superficial, this book employs measured drawings, diagrams and other deeply analytical tools to show us the field conditions that once made historic Chinese cities vibrant and could make the contemporary Chinese city more livable in the face of unbridled growth. For designers, urbanists and those concerned with the physical and ecological viability of cities worldwide, this is a must read volume.

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It has added considerably to my understanding of the discussion and debate on strategies for creating and extending urbanism, and has caused me to think about ways in which some of its lessons can be applied to American Cities. Field urbanism describes the ways in which relations, built and urban, can bind and form the experiences of a city.

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Thus, all fields are fabrics but not all fabrics are fields. Why did you choose China to explain and exemplify the concept of field urbanism? The rapid growth of Chinese cities highlights the effects of using mid- to late- 20th century strategies of development and design. While the effects can be seen throughout the world, they are magnified by the rapid transformation of Chinese cities. When China emerged in the late s from a period of self-imposed international withdrawal, they realized that they had fallen far behind in terms of economics, quality of life, transportation and so on.

City design has never been more important and never has it been more problematic. As our world faces new and complex challenges, our cities will need to be made more dense, more sustainable, more accommodating of diverse populations, more robust without discarding qualities that make them unique and legible. Yet, the methods and knowledge we employ in their design is not advancing: we have a poor understanding of what makes good cities, places and neighborhoods.

We have more data but less sense, such as how a street supports activities beyond traffic. Computation and big data are emerging as tools to model urban complexity, yet these models are premised on a too simple, bifurcated view of cities — inside or outside.


The interrelations that weave the pieces of a city together are complex and critical to the design and development process. The goal of the book is to develop the language, concepts, generative tools, and systemic metrics of relational conditions that support the design of better cities and extended places. You talk about a culture of object-building contributing to urban fragmentation. What are the problems associated with growing fragmentation and why is a field urbanism strategy important? Problems associated with urban fragmentation include a separation between public and private, as well as isolation between private realms.

Experiences within cities become homogenous. The differences between districts, between streets, in orientation are lost. Also, the unique differences of identity between cities disappear as more cities look more alike, becoming a loose chain of buildings with swaths of wasted spaces between objects that are neither sustainable nor legible. Field urbanism acknowledges collectivity — the reciprocities between public and private realms. It provides the ability for systems to operate at different environmental scales.

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Whether building new infrastructures or reinforcing aging infrastructure, we need to assess the best scales of operation. Where else is this occurring? China is definitely not unique, just the most rapidly fragmented. In the U. In the history of the development of the single-family house and the suburbs, we can also trace the same figuring and objectifying of building in the latter half of the 20th century that continues as a pattern today. Many cities in the Middle East — for example, Dubai, Bahrain, Kuwait City — are now filled with rows of iconic buildings with little regard for the shared relations of the everyday experience of the city.

Many Asian cities are also growing rapidly, either with Chinese help or in competition with China India comes to mind , all are filled with both the iconic and repetitive fragments. As you noted, iconic supertall buildings are being erected all over the world. Can this type of architecture still honor urban fields? Most high-rises fill an entire block or blocks at their base and in this case they have difficulty extending the field locally; they are mostly singular.

At other environmental scales, they can extend a field, for instance by their location in relation to a street pattern. Examples that work well include tall buildings that are mixed with low- and mid-rise building such as Peabody Terrace in Cambridge, MA, as well as contemporary field developments mostly found throughout Europe such as Borneo Sporenberg in Amsterdam. What are some of the ways urban planners and architects can better integrate their designs with existing urban fabrics in China and elsewhere? You can take metro line 2, which takes around 40 minutes and the ticket fare is CNY3.

Or you can take bus No. You can take metro line 7 from Beijing west railway staion and get off at Ci Qikou station, then transfer to metro line 5 and get off at Deng Shikou station so you can get to your destination. I am coming by Air China which arrives at T3 Terminal at 9. How will I manage it? Shall I go out after customs and then how I go to domestic flight after that from T3? You can follow the steps and the transfer needs about 2 hours. The metro line 2 cannot direct to the raiway station.

How much time would you suggest spending in Hong Kong, Guilin and Chengdu to see pandas?

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This is our first time visiting these cities, how much time would you suggest for each one? Any particular suggestions of where to go? Thank you in advance. Hi, I think you need to stay at least two days in every city to explore the attractions. Tailor My Trip.