Foreign design ideas and the impact of globalization have long played a strong role in
creating and reshaping local urban forms in the past few decades in China. This is especially
evident in public open spaces in many Chinese cities due to rapid economic development.
Recent urban projects in Beijing specifically have shown limited responsiveness to local
context and needs of users. This is due to a political focus on financial returns, and has
resulted in the proliferation of homogeneous ‘anywhere places’. Therefore, the aim of this
research is to develop a conceptual framework and methodology for defining principles for
locally responsive public open spaces in Beijing.
The conceptual framework developed for this study is based on a review of key literature
from both global and local sources, to define locally responsive public open spaces in the
context of Beijing. Furthermore, the methodology establishes the relationship between
traditional philosophies and contemporary thinking, and integrates urban morphology and
other methods into the process. Eleven areas were visited and three neighbourhoods were
chosen to study local perceptions of public open spaces across historical, early modern and
contemporary scenarios. 90 residents and key decision makers were involved for identifying
the needs and interests of various urban actors that make them possible to explore relevant
topics through case study and different stages of developments in the city. By employing an
Inquiry by Design approach, the proposals were developed and tested with key decision
makers in order to formulate final recommendations. The research findings define the intrinsic meanings of public open space in the specific case
of Beijing. They provide a set of recommendations to achieve local responsive public open
spaces at different morphological layers and types of open spaces. Finally, they establish
new conceptualisations of local responsiveness and methodologies based on the unique
Chinese context. Therefore, the main contributions to the knowledge are the conceptual
framework for exploration of locally responsive public open space design, and a methodology for investigating the qualities and levels of local responsiveness in these
spaces. Both of which are potentially transferable to other Chinese cities that seek guidance
on addressing issues in similar urban forms.
Permanent link to this resource: https://doi.org/10.24384/jkrz-h035
Supervisors: Butina-Watson, Georgia; Lim, Regina Mapua
School of the Built EnvironmentFaculty of Technology, Design and Environment
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