Verticality and Conflicting Identities in the Contemporary Chinese City: The Urban Development of Suzhou Industrial Park
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Keywords

Chinese cities
Suzhou Industrial Park
superblock
high-rise housing
Chinese modern architecture
East Asian urbanism

DOI

10.36922/jcau.v3i1.1026

Abstract

The unprecedented pace of urbanization and modernization of China in the last three decades has led to a huge restructuring of the pre-existent urban fabrics and the progressive reshaping of the city form, its inner structure and urban landscape, by promoting the growth of many new high-rise residential superblocks and suburban commercial, industrial, and business districts built around major Chinese cities. Famous for the UNESCO protected urban gardens, Suzhou has over 2,500 years of history. Like in many Chinese cities, the low-rise urban landscape of the old city clashes visually with the verticality of the contemporary built environment, especially evident in the new residential urban zones of Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP). Focusing on four selected case studies of large-scale housing projects in SIP, the paper explores how these new residential communities have engaged the themes of verticality and high-density living to create extensive constellations of modern but uniform high-rise urban communities. It also considers how and comment about the contradictions within this acontextual modern urban landscape, which mirror to some extent a larger trend in Chinese and other East Asian cities, in a phase of exceptional urban development and economic growth at the turn of the 21st century.

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