Human Cities China - Student Challenge

Interdisciplinary students from Stanford, Tsinghua, Peking, Jiaotong, Tongji, and Nottingham-Ningbo University participated in the Human Cities Challenge, an intensive 72-hour studio experience, in which they explored three neighborhoods in Beijing to investigate a human-centered approach to urban development. The three sites were Tieshu Byway (铁树斜街) in Dashilan, Qinglong Hutong (青龙胡同), and Fatou (垡头) and were guided by four community partners, including Beijing Gehua Cultural Development Group, China Sustainable Transportation Center, Cinnovate/Intel China, and Energy Foundation China. Multinational student teams relied on framework guidelines from the community partners and fieldwork strategies to develop a concept that can be implemented in the neighborhood in the next 12-16 months. 

See below for examples from each team’s work:

Qinglong 青龙胡同

New Neighborhood, New Space: An analysis of Public Space


  • Small and scattered public space due to chaotic expansion of residential buildings in violation of rules
  • Occupied/Useless public space on account of unreasonable planning
  • Diversity of demands—Lack of public space for the large number of old people and children living in the area
  • Existence of boundary—Lack of public space attraction mutually: living area at night (after 18:00) and on weekends/working area


  • Contradiction between residents’ space demand and the limited space reality.
  • The existence of a barrier between the residential area and the working area.




Solution 1: Boundary to accessible area


Solution 2: Abundant wall to creative art wall


Solution 3: Parking space to walking space

Regenerate as if People Matter: Mixed-UsE

Fatou 垡头

Zone for Mixed-Use Neighborhoods and Support High Quality Transit

The twentieth-first century witnesses the dramatic development in both rural and urban areas. When we study the development deeply by observing the transformation of urbanization, we see a huge number of severe and quite obvious problems in the place where people from both rural and urban area living together. Fatou is such a kind of rural-urban continuum where conflicts are especially extreme. What is worse, due to the ignorance of Fatou site, the place might be the worst site among all the rural-urban continuum.

Under that condition, some organizations and individuals try to make some changes, they made projects and constructions. They built a culture centre and a city park. However, in terms of the interview, we found that some implements are not suitable for the current problems. These people aim at providing an advanced and highly-modernized building for the people, which may lead to the rise in the citizens’ individual qualities. Yet they even didn’t meet the most basic needs of them such as: (1) Transportation; (2) Security/Safety problems; (3) Incomplete infrastructure and services: Bank/Hospital.

Based on the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, we found that not only the government but the organizations and individuals skip the basic needs of human, while directly focusing on the higher level of needs instead. Thus if we eager to make some changes, we should based on their real needs, instead of just imagining what they need.

Therefore, we follow the guidelines: Support high-quality transit. Specifically, (1) reorganize the road network by removing the useless land; (2) Put more public transits, like bus stops and underground station in use, and (3) optimize the usage of the cultural center.

We believe that only by aiming at the real needs of human beings can we provide a better life and build the human city. 

Tieshu Byway 铁树斜街

Hutong Vertical Green Space Initiative