Urban Design in the City of Shanghai

Urban Design in the City of Shanghai

Urban areas serve numerous human needs, such as housing, social interactions, working environment, and mobility of commodities and people. It is paramount to manage the land-usage in urban areas to ensure that people receive maximum benefits. However, land use is a complex process that involves the development of the statements of land usage issues, goals, and objectives. The complexity is caused by a need for a well-planned data collection analysis, land classification maps, and reports indicating and describing appropriate development in the areas of special environmental concern. There are measures that are used to enhance value in urban development that ensure effective land-use. When urban designs are appropriate, the country is likely to enjoy good governance and management that builds a capacity to form planning policies and promote spatial quality and development controls. Since the land-use decision is an essential determinant of the environmental quality especially in urban areas, the community must apply proper planning tools. This paper focuses on the land use tools that are applied in the City of Shanghai in China to facilitate effective transportation.

Historical Context

Before China’s reform in 1978, developmental controls barely existed. The ancient Chinese urban form was influenced by the Confucian ideology that had a rigid hierarchy at the administrative, social levels, in the family, and Tao ideology between human beings and nature. The urban environment was poorly designed. However, after the Opium war, modern planning concepts were introduced by Western planners and trained specialists (Gaubatz). International conflicts and civil wars limited the implementation of the modern planning. Ever since, there have been dynamic changes in the urbanization of Shanghai that aim at improving people’s lives and yield economic benefits. The urban designers have emphasized the transportation systems to facilitate mobility.

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Shanghai have undergone 3 eras of urbanization since the1840s when the development has begun in a small town’s territory in the areas enclosed by city walls and wharf on the Huangpu River. The area was invaded by the first foreign settlers who planned to move northward of the town with the aim of separating foreign settlements from Chinese areas. The separation resulted in the creation of a twin town structure that became Shanghai City half a century later. The settlement and concession continued to expand leading to the development of Shanghai.

The second urbanization era began in 1949 when Shanghai focused on rebuilding the Chinese economy. Manufacturing and industrial sector were prioritized due to the desire to become self-sufficient. During this period, Shanghai quickly transformed from a financial center into a comprehensive manufacturing focal point. Finally, the last era is characterized by a spatial and physical transformation of the city. It began in the 1990s after the modification of the central and local government tax and revenue policy, which changed the role of central government. The planning and allocation of construction funds were given to the local government, which gave more finances to autonomous decision-making power to the government. It enhanced the city-based development of infrastructure. In addition, there was the management and operation committee that oversaw urban development and effective land-use.

Transportation System in Shanghai

Motorized transport requires a bigger share of land, but Chinese cities devote a lower percentage of 5 to 7 compared to the other cities which devote 15% to 25%. In Shanghai, each person is allocated 6m2 of road space. Most people in Shanghai own an automobile, which demands an increased share of land allocation to the development of roads that in turn improves traffic condition.

The city planners in Shanghai faced a challenge of allocating sufficient space for the increased number of automobiles. Although the planners are aware of the need to dedicate large portions of the area to the construction of large road networks, high competition for the limited land resources remains an issue. Rapid urban development and increased number of individuals with automobiles push the city boundary beyond the limits that are set by the master plan of the city. There has been a continued increase in paved roads, which expands the network of broad-lane and elevated expressways. However, this effort has not improved the situation. Therefore, the government has implemented laws that control car ownership (Haixiao). A national public-transit-priority strategy has been established. Great amounts of funds have been invested in the development of public transit and integrated transport infrastructure. It is anticipated that Shanghai will follow macro-environmental trends to achieve developmental transformation.

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Shanghai’s integrated transport has resulted in the increased sophisticated transport networks. The city designers have utilized technological innovations and advanced equipment. Among the development projects that have significantly improved the development of transport system in Shanghai is the construction of ports, highways, and networks. Highways have maximized the land-use due to the development of expressways. There is a notable increase in the road network, the length of which is 12,000km, including 776km of expressways (Hook and Michael). The expressway is the foundation of 2 circles, vertical and horizontal highways, radiation directions, and links. The use of road network and expressway enables the motorists to reach their destination within the shortest time possible.

Shanghai transportation system has also been enhanced by the use of urban rail network. The city has the longest rail network that connects China with the other parts of the world. Proper city planning has contributed to the realization of the best rail system in less than two decades. Several metro lines that have an operational length of 45 km have been established. These lines transport over 5 million people daily, which is estimated to be 42% of the population. The railway has 600m station service radius calculation, which is about 25% of the land in the city center (Burgess and Mike). There have been several reforms in the urban development design, which has led to the development of surface transit with a combined mechanism for public welfare and market-oriented operations. They include the use of ground bus network, a well-established urban public transport network that includes rail transportation and the ground public transport. Taxis are used as complements while information systems serve as the tool and connection.

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The Advantages of the Improved Transport Systems in Shanghai

With the development of the well-planned designed urban infrastructure, it is easy to maneuver around and get to the destination within the shortest period of time. The availability of wider roads, expressways, underground, ground public transport, and modern rails facilitates movement and also minimizes traffic congestion. The development of such networks helps the planner to present continuous innovations. Thus, the planners are constantly thinking of new ways to improve Shanghai by maximizing the available land.

Challenges Faced by the Urban Planners

The key challenge is the extreme strain on land resources. The increased population has caused the planners to push the city boundary beyond the limits that are set by the master plan of the city. Another challenge is caused by a higher number of individuals who own automobiles. Even though urban designers have developed remarkable public transportation system, most people still own cars. Thus, traffic congestion remains the burning issue despite great investments in infrastructure aiming to decongest Shanghai.

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Land-use is closely associated with development because of data collection analysis, land classification maps, and reports on the appropriate development measures in the areas of special environmental concern. Urban areas keep changing thus prompting the planners to discover new ways of improvement. Shanghai City has undergone 3 urbanization eras, but even today, there is room for improvement. The modern design in transportation system has made it easier to move around using public means thus discouraging traffic congestion. Use of modern roads, expressways, rails, ground transportation, and subway have enabled urban architects to maximize the land usage. In addition, the government has invested many funds in the development of the effective transport system.

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