Friday, July 30, 2010

China Lecture 1 question

Please feel free to address this question as part of your contribution to the blog:
‘Identify an aspect of planning in China which contrasts with the way things are done in New Zealand. Can you think of the benefits of the Chinese approach, and any difficulties that might arise?' (Up to 100 words).


  1. Nardia Yozin 4677369July 31, 2010 at 12:24 PM

    I found the concept of a danwei very interesting. The idea of living where you work or in very close proximity is a simple way to reduce transport costs and commuting time. To an extent western town planning could be considered to be shifting in the direction of something similar to the Danwei, e.g. the concept and principles behind New Urbanism.
    I find in Auckland people live in all areas often to get a certain lifestyle (or due to the market). This can sometimes mean that people are spending large periods of time in traffic, or in the process of getting somewhere (NZs largest carbon producing sector). Danwei’s have the ability to reduce urban sprawl or new fringe development, as cheaper accommodation does not have to be found in the city fringe, but is provided for close to the particular industry where the people are employed. On this point it must be pointed out that the government owned all the land, and therefore there most likely weren’t large land value differences.
    The Danwei does have advantages in relation to sustainability; however I can also see the argument around lack of freedom regarding social mobility, the Danwei didn’t seem to promote individual free will and choice.

  2. Katherine (Katie) Round 4643038July 31, 2010 at 4:38 PM

    Similar to Nardia’s comment I also found the Danwei or mixed use work units established under the Communist Regime (some of which are still present in some areas) quite different and interesting. It strikes me as a very communal form of living with the shared facilities and spaces within a contained area that is owned by the state. This contrasts greatly to planning in NZ which has been influenced by the free market and the notion of individuality. In the past has led to the separation of land uses, state-owned assets being sold and desires to own a single-detached house that is occupied by a single family household.
    Benefits of the Dunwei: more efficient use of land and resources, stronger community ties, sense of security (safer), less travel required by people living within area (as it contains a number of uses).
    Difficulties: perceived loss of freedom, privacy issues, diversity in terms of occupations ie each had a particular function such as a university or hospital, risk of not being able to ‘progress’ in terms of occupation and income.
    Another point I would like to add from the lecture which I was surprised by was the huge degree of western influence in China in terms of architecture and design. I always assumed that the Chinese style of design would be quite strongly present throughout Chinese settlements and cities.

  3. Anita Kulasic..4876931

    The Danwei units that were established in China under the Communist Regime I found interesting. I have never actually heard about this idea so when Jimmy starting talking about it I was a bit shocked that such an idea was being used. I personally think it takes away peoples freedom to be able to explore other territories of the country/world. However, in saying that the benefits of a Danwei is it is an efficient use of land, they seem to be much safer, they people do not have to travel to work or anywhere else as everything is provided for them in their Dunwei, and the sense of community is stronger as these people have lived with each other for the whole of their lives.
    In saying that the difficulties of living in a Dunwei are the loss of freedom and privacy, and there doesn't seem to be a sense of individuality.
    The way the Dunwei differs from New Zealand is in New Zealand we have a free market and we live in a democratic country. People are allowed to speak up, and we are able to progress in our jobs etc because we are not limited to staying in one job for the rest of our lives.
    I do see the advantages of the Dunwei such as it reduces travel times and it is an example of a mixed use place where everything that you need is in one place but I do still believe it takes away the freedom from people.

  4. Yu Ying Viena Jiang (4593106)August 1, 2010 at 10:29 PM

    The most impression for me on Jimmy’s lecture was the idea of Danwei and the early planning in China. I was born in China so I have the idea of Danwei and Danwei is a special work unit that established under the Communist Regime. Danwei is a place that people are able to work and live. Different occupations have different Danwei and they are basically having similar facilities inside the village, such as school, health care center, library, stores. Therefore, people who live in the Danwei are not necessary to go outside the Danwei. From the one hand, Danwei is very convenience for workers to go to work and save time and money from transportation and it is also easy for the state to control and manage, however on the other hand, people may not have enough choices and they always fit in one single life style which will restrict people’s creative thinking. Actually, the western Europe had similar idea of Danwei during the industrial revolution. Workers would live very close to the factors and the factors owned the lands and they provided school for workers’ children and they also growth their own fruit which have similar management as the Danwei idea so I do not think Danwei is a very single new idea. Compare to New Zealand, Danwei has some similar idea of zoning, but it is not totally the same. New Zealand has led to separate land and also has it is property right influenced by England. New Zealand is more focusing on privacy and individual benefit therefore the Danwei idea may not suitable for New Zealand. However the village system can be considered.
    Benefit: the best thing for the Danwei is it save people’s time from the transportation and very things are organized in one single style. The state is able to control and manage in one system.
    Difficulties: this is seemed to lose the freedom in a sense of choices. People have same style so it may restrict people’s creative thinking. The State have fully control about the Danwei therefore is very difficult for people to left from the Danwei.

  5. The most obvious contrast between China and New Zealand is the concept of a Danwei. Although the Danwei is more sustainable in terms of reducing the negative effects of transportation, I do not think it is socially feasible for a Western, Democratic culture such as New Zealand’s. For one thing, I think many people appreciate the freedom of choosing which neighborhood to live in, shop in, play in etc. Also, I think it is comforting to have your home separated from your workplace in terms of landscape but also relating to social circles-living in a Danwei implies seeing the same group of people day and night, everyday. However, I think Auckland could benefit from the concepts behind the Danwei by striving to make sub-neighborhoods more self sufficient to reduce transport into and out of the central city.

  6. Similar to the above comments I found the concept of a danwei contrasts in part, with the way things are done in modern New Zealand society. This form of living provides a different approach to communal living or the ideal of ‘community’, interestingly by planning urban development into work units. The concept of people residing according to their occupation has both advantages and disadvantages, and some characteristics can be seen progressively in some western and third world nations.
    One difficulty of the danwei approach would be that you were identified by what danwei you lived-in, or in other words the identity of individuals was focused on a person’s workplace based within a group context rather than a city name, district or street address. Gaining a strong focus on workplace identity, which to my thinking is not completely a disadvantage. Afterall, do we not judge business by their company products and services, and not by the individual? Anyway that was just thrown out there to provoke some thought on workers identity.
    I guess one benefit would be, and keeping with the identity aspect is that it gives those who are separated from where they originate from, a sense of identity and belonging. Through living and working within the same place, provides or develops a sense of attachment which brings some sense of belonging. Therefore giving those who become or who are detached from their traditional or original lands a point of social belonging. Although being assigned under communist rule it provides a foundation of an effective economic and social unit.

  7. Larissa Clarke 4634705August 2, 2010 at 9:48 PM

    I also feel the concept of a ‘Danwei’ is very different to planning in NZ, However in a broader senses the general principal of living where you work, therefore cutting down on travel and having everything provided for in one place (child care, shops etc) maybe likened to some pioneering towns? Where workers moved for an industry for example mining etc and subsequently a small village was built for miners families with all the services it would need, obviously this is a very different scale and circumstance but could all exist on government owned land and many people living there may find it hard to ‘break away’ from the community?

    I feel the concept of Feng Shui is very much in contrast to most NZ planning. I don’t think we incorporate much spirituality in to the planning process, for example subdivision of land or dividing of regions etc. we don’t tend to follow natural boundaries or dividers such as catchments, rivers or mountains we just draw lines(the planning of Auckland)… this does not provide the best result for our natural environment and long term our human environment suffers.
    Perhaps the closest we get to incorporating nature (I’m sorry if I have the concept wrong, I’m just using what I gathered from the lecture) and the concept of Feng Shui is ensuring houses are orientated to maximise the sun, and ensuring front and side yard set backs.

  8. The huge population of China has always been one of the concerns for the planners, on top of that, the large land area of China also increases the difficulty in city planning. The use of Danwei was meant to be the soultion for managing and controling such great number of people across the country in a more effective and efficient way, by breaking up the population into many small units that provide all sorts of services for the residents.

    The population of New Zealand is rapidly growing that this concept of danwei could be useful for managing the growth at the same time may reduce the pressure from the growth on the transportation system. And the cost for public work may be reduced by the use of such concept, tat all communal facilities within the units are provided by the organization or institution which owns them. But this concept may be more easily implementable under the communistic context of China comparing to New Zealand, as more rules may be needed for achieving the outcome, (e,g requiring organizations or institutions to provide public facitities. )

  9. The use of Danwei contrasts with the planning in New Zealand. The benefits that might arise from these towns is the convenience it provides for residents in that they don’t need to travel out of town to attain services as everything is provided for in a Danwei but it is also inconvenient that lots of residential places have no toilets and kitchens. I think it’ll be quite dull to not have the convenience to travel out of town (assuming that it’s inconvenient). Also I agree with Anita that people lose their freedom when living in a Danwei. They live, work, learn and play in a Danwei without any contact with people and experience of the outside world.

  10. Keats 4928818

    I just wrote a massive post then selected to post it under wordpress and then it toldme i had to sign in and deleted my posts, im not writing it as comprehensively perhaps bullet pointed.

    I focused on the similaritiies between the danwei concept and say small semi self sufficient towns like queenstown where peple live, work etc etc for atleast part of the year. These similaries become even more evident if you understand that there are probb many chinese danweis that are bigger than queenstown

    I also recomended that the concept could only be tiraled in small dislocated towns with little infrastrucute etc and wouldnt work in any of our major cities.

  11. Brogan Perkins 4892341August 5, 2010 at 11:32 AM

    Like everyone else, for me the concept of the working units created in the communist regime 'Danwei' were the most outstanding feature of the lecture. I had never heard of the concept nor as Stephen mentioned the New Zealand 'Cadbury factory' version.In my experience a similar concept would have been at the Chelsea factory in Birkenhead were homes were provided for the workers. The advantages are in terms of control of people in a sustainable matter; cutting transportation, and need to go elsewhere for facilities and services. The disadvantages however seem to outweigh the advantages with children in Danwei finding it hard to ever leave their Danwei as it is easier for them to get jobs within than to go elsewhere never mind the fact that the jobs in the other Danwei might require a lesser skill or education level. Another issue was privacy with Danwei's having a standard plan were dining and bathrooms where shared, not in individual residential areas. I also thought it would be hard on families when a child went to university they had to leave their Danwei and go to the university Danwei, I didnt quite understand whether or not they could even go and visit their families Danwei anymore? Both the disadvantages and advantages of a Danwei however create a gated community as mentioned where i like anita and diana believe people lose their freedom as they will grow old only ever knowing the one community. However if the concept was created a bit differently like in the Chelsea factory concept the advantage of having workers on site at all times cant be argued against however I think the freedom necessity is for people to have to go elsewhere for food and higher eduaction than primary school so that social interaction within a wider community occurs.

  12. Jake Lawrence says

    i think the Danwei could be a prime place to live as it provides a living environment without the hassles of living in your own home such as maintenance, rent , rates etc. i am assuming the danwei concept is free to live in or just a small portion of your wages are taken. of course the danwei gives its occupants a lack of freedom but it would be interesting to see how popular this concept would be in new zealand for example it could prove the ideal living arrangement for cash strapped students and make it effortless to get to classes

  13. Minkyung Ko (4801104) - MindyAugust 5, 2010 at 12:57 PM

    As one of the planning system, Danwei was very interesting and I also think Danwei contrasts with planning in New Zealand. I was curious about freedom issue of Danwei. Jimmy said that 2 or 3 generations which carry on their family line lived together so there is no freedom and I also think the closed society of China is one of the reasons. Before reformation, pioneer and open society of China, government put most citizens to Danwei without their intention to achievement of social control and full employment of their citizens. This is the purpose of establishment of Danwei. It is not a good system for citizens but it pulls out huge economic development for China.
    The Benefits of Danwei is that less travel to work, school can reduce travel time and can use resource in Danwei more efficiently. On the other hand, the Difficulties are no freedom allowed, and no privacy for residents.

  14. I too agree that the Danwei is an interesting concept that contrasts with the traditional ideals of freedom in New Zealand. The Danwei shows many economic, social and environmental benefits through its ability to reduce urban sprawl, reduce traffic, reduce energy consumption, strong community ties – all of which greatly contribute to urban sustainability. This concept correlates with our compact-city approach, through the integration of high density residential areas, employment, health and educational facilities, and leisure activities within walking distance of one another. I believe the concept would be most beneficial to lower socio-economic groups. However, it would severely restrict ones personal freedom, as the State controls nearly every part of life – including the economic and social wellbeing of the Danwei inhabitants. As a result, rather than resulting in a collection of individuals, this system constituted a collection of danwei – i.e people with reduced identity, free will and choice. Thereby, the transferability of this concept to our local context would be limited, due to our market economy and potential public opposition to the Danwei style development.

  15. Kimberley Edmonds 4992625

    On reflection of the concept of the ‘danwei,’ which I found very interesting, I can’t help but wonder about the freedom of individuals who lived in it. With Chinas socialist regime perhaps not as strong as it was, there seems to be fewer restrictions on those living inside danwei’s now. However I found the idea that people lived and died here under states control rather disconcerting. I agree it offers the convenience of work and home being close as is best planning practice, but the citizens seemed to live there under rule, rather than choice. It was also another way for the Maoist state to keep tabs on the one child policy. However in saying this, it did ensure employment security for its people, which is something that was so important and vital for many, to ensure countless families wellbeing and security, not to mention the benefits of the danwei’s ability to form a cohesive and strong community.

  16. Anita Palacio - 4648584October 30, 2010 at 9:54 AM

    I Think the Danwei has its merits. To live and work in the same place gives both environmental and social benefits. By social I mean it can create a sense of identity and community, knowing your neighbours and knowing where you come from. THis is something I personally think we will lose with the SuperCity moving closer to government and forgetting the individual.

  17. In the concept of planning, population growth has always being the crucial issue in China, in New Zealand, and in the world. The contradiction between economic growth and limited capital is considered as a difficult question facing all planners in the Earth. The concept of Danwei could be used to managing the growth in New Zealand, however, this theory needs political and planning support. It is a good way to centralise people in a certain form, people can live where next to their work place, as well as other facilities that are necessary. Pressure on transportation could be reduced, as well as the adverse effects generated by transportation. Nevertheless, this concept is not easy to achieve in New Zealand because of culture and customer here.