Approaching a Polycentric and Compact Mode of Sustainable Urban Development: the Case of Shanghai

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This paper discusses issues relating to the urban structure of contemporary megalopolises in China. As the urbanization rate is over 50% in China, the New Mode of Urbanization Planning (2014-2020) specifies new ways for Chinese cities to optimize their urban structure. Many Chinese megalopolises propose to focus future urban development plans on the polycentric and compact urban structure that would address sustainable development concerns. Shanghai is one of the cities taking the lead in adopting this mode. This paper also reviews theories about both urban polycentric structure and compact city in order to identify new ways to integrate them. To understand how this integrated mode of urban development might work, an urban concept model is established to analyze the relationships between inner city, suburbs, new districts and new towns. Taking Shanghai as an example and making reviews of its previous planning, this research explores the reasons and motivations for adopting the integrated mode and examines the effect of the spatial expansion of population and industry, as well as the role of the intervention and organization of government. This research also shows how Shanghai’s urban structure has trans monocentric system towards a polycentric structure with compact form. The paper’s final section presents a quantitative and qualitative analysis of stage of approaching the polycentric and compact urban structure. Preliminary findings indicates that, for China’s megalopolises, this development mode is both sustainable and particularly well suited national conditions.
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