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Chinese Urban Planning

Environmentalising a hyper-functionalist machine?
Rémi Curien
Translated by Will Thornely
p. 23-31


How should the considerable discrepancy between the concepts of sustainable urban development proclaimed by the Chinese authorities and the reality on the ground be understood? This article examines the urban planning procedures that currently hold sway in China. The building of new cities is based upon a generic method of hyper-productivist and functionalist planning, reflected as a pyramid structure that extends over the whole country and is embodied by urban zoning on a vast scale. This procedure, which has been in force for nearly 30 years, is not at present one that is called into question by Chinese decision-makers, and does not take environmental principles seriously into account. Conversely, all of the reasoning upon which urban development is based remains very far removed from environmental considerations. China is continuing down the road of accelerated development behind the wheel of a growing hyper-functionalist urban machine.

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Bibliographical reference

Rémi Curien, « Chinese Urban Planning », China Perspectives, 2014/3 | 2014, 23-31.

Electronic reference

Rémi Curien, « Chinese Urban Planning », China Perspectives [Online], 2014/3 | 2014, Online since 01 January 2017, connection on 30 September 2020. URL : ; DOI :

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About the author

Rémi Curien

Rémi Curien is a PhD candidate at LATTS (Laboratoire Techniques, Territoires, Sociétés [Techniques, Territories and Societies Laboratory]) at the École des Ponts Paris Tech – Université Paris Est, and a research engineer at Suez Environnement.Laboratoire Techniques, Territoires et Sociétés, 14/20, boulevard Newton - Cité Descartes, 77447 Marne-la-Vallée (

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