Collaborative Public Space in China: Two Waterfront Projects, Shanghai and Suzhou


This paper discusses public space in China and explores how theories of public space can be applied to two waterfront projects. As case studies the paper compares two public waterfront projects: The 18 km Jinji Lake project in Suzhou and the 45km Huangpu River waterfront project in Shanghai, both completed in 2018. The Jinji lake development in the heart of Suzhou designed by EDAW later AECOM also boasts inclusive 24/7 access and people centered design. Democratic theory is commonly used in the West to discuss public space however LiminHeearguesthatthediscourseasunderstoodinthewesterndemocratictradition is not adequate for Asian cities (Hee, 2017). Constructing Singapore Public Space, Springer) This paper finds that although the idea of public space in China is argued to be an evolving concpt (Gaubatz, 2008, pp 72-83), notions of democratic participation, Human Centered Design (HCD) and place-making methods are central development policyinChinesecities.Whereastermslikevibrancyandvitalityarecommonlyusedby scholars to evaluate and discuss public space in China, rather than democratic theory, theories from western scholars such as Habermas’s theory of the public sphere are also relevant and collaborative practices between civil society and the state are key to the participatory nature of Chinese public space.

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