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Supervisor: Minna Sunikka-Blank



Research overview:

The rapid housing relocation practices in mainland China have dictated profound socioeconomic changes, altering the way of living for many urbanites. Such relocation programmes in Chinese cities have led to an emergence of densified high-rise gated communities, which replaced the traditional courtyard houses. During restructuring processes, significant residential mobility out of, within and into the renewal areas are inevitable. With such mobility, the neighbourhood social connections are reshaped and restructured. Further, there is a need to focus on how to construct socially sustainable urban environments, through relational networks comprised by interactions between residents, buildings, facilities and domestic spaces. This research focuses on changes in China’s housing and neighbourhood spatial arrangements due to urban densification, at neighbourhood and building scales respectively, and how these interlink with everyday practices that can lead to different social impacts amongst stayers and newcomers. The contribution of this study is threefold. First, there is a need to understand residents’ lived experiences during urban densification process, beyond the concern for the physical quality of housing. Second, the consideration of stayers and newcomers is a new category for investigating the lifestyles of the residents, in addition to the existing classifications such as income levels or education. Third, there are unintended social consequences such as more individual and private lifestyles and reduced social relations in neighbourhood.



Xin Li is a 3rd year PhD candidate, funded by CSC Cambridge Trust. She practiced in architecture design as an architect in China and the UK. She holds a B.A. (Hons) in Architecture from the University of Liverpool, and an MPhil in Architecture and Urban Studies from the University of Cambridge. Her research interests focus on architecture design and domestic energy use. Her current research investigates the change in building typology and residents’ practices in restructured Chinese neighbourhoods.