How to Design, Build, and LIve in the Human City



With 2.5 billion people worldwide poised to become new urban dwellers in the next three decades, the pathway towards sustainable development is more urgent than ever. During that period, China will add 300 million people to its cities, equivalent to the current population of the United States. While rapid urbanization has increased the quality of life for many, it has also resulted in severe environmental degradation and worsening social inequity. Investment in the past decade has simultaneously created ghost cities that are devoid of residents, while demolishing many existing neighborhoods. These trends call for new approaches and innovative thinking. How can we build cities that are human friendly and that attract people who want to live there?

How should we design and build cities that are environmentally sustainable, economically vibrant, and socially equitable? 

In May 2016, practitioners, researchers, and students will convene at Human Cities@China to explore alternative pathways for an urban vision in China—one that ultimately creates a more sustainable and human-centered city. Drawing from the theme, Design, Build and Measure the Human City, we invite key experts to engage with American and Chinese students to share case studies and development models that promote urbanism at the neighborhood level. We explore the integration of new technologies and practices of community-scale infrastructure in both greenfield and infill development, as well as compare varying approaches to urban development in large cities and mid-sized townships. We will discuss how urban design strategies such as density, walkable streets, mixed land use, and small blocks can increase quality of life for people in daily interactions with their neighbors, community institutions, and the built environment.

By learning from practitioners’ and developers’ firsthand experiences, workshop participants will meet new colleagues and collaborators, gain insights into the opportunities and challenges of urban development in China, and explore a framework to advance the human city.

[Human Cities Challenge] 

Select students will participate in the Human Cities Challenge, an intensive 72-hour studio experience in which we investigate a human-centered approach to urban development in the Chinese context. The challenge involves multinational U.S.-Chinese teams, who will use the Human Cities framework and a set of fieldwork strategies to develop and pitch a feasible concept for the community partner, who can adapt and modify it for future use. The challenge will involve an introduction to the opportunity site through guest expert talks and walking tours on Day 1, in-depth field observations and interviews on Day 2, and a final showcase where students develop and pitch their idea to the community partners on Day 3.

Human Cities@China is sponsored by the Stanford Office of International Affairs and organized by the Stanford Human Cities Initiative and Program on Urban Studies with support from Tsinghua University iCenter, Tsinghua Academy of Art and Design, Tsinghua University Department of Construction Management, the Stanford Center at Peking University, Stanford Bing Overseas Program, Stanford Club of Beijing, and the Urban Land Institute.