Tuesday, July 29, 2014


What are the four broad historical periods for China? Describe two influences of the earliest period on urban design. What do you think might be the benefits of these approaches?


  1. Historical periods of China include: Ancient China (-1840), Early Modern China (1840-1949), Planning Economy (1949-1978) and Post-Reform Boom. Two influences of the Ancient China period on urban design include cosmological thinking (square grid street pattern, followed strict axial symmetry and rules) and pragmatic ideology (cities developed in respect to topography and geographic nature) influencing the form of early Chinese cities. Benefits of these approaches may include the creation of diverse cities, architecture and urban fabric (and thus sustainable diverse communities),walkable cities as well as culturally significant icons to attract travellers.

    Cassandra Ng 5444110

  2. Ancient China
    Early Modern China
    Planning economy period
    Post-reform boom

    1. Rational/cosmological ideology
    -preconceived plan, symmetrical grid layouts, north-south orientation, central political/administrative buildings -conveyed cosmologically ordered universe.

    -New Urbanism principles permeability and legibility so easy to navigate, walkable, safe.
    -political and military benefits, walled rectangular cities providing good defense.

    2. pragmatic ideology:
    -developed incrementally and organically with commercial development, irregular layout, responded to natural environment.

    - seems to follow permaculture principles of working with rather than against nature, therefore benefiting natural environment
    - loosening land use patterns & social/political structures
    - economic growth, diverse built environment & society

    Emma Morris

  3. Kate Richardson 5473245July 31, 2014 at 1:25 PM

    China's 5000 year evolution has profoundly shaped its urban form.
    Ancient Chinese design was defensive, hierarchical and controlled. Influenced by geomantic qualities and a desire to maintain harmony with nature, urban design was sustainable and high quality. However, the rigid layouts lacked variety and consideration of topography.
    The Early-Modern period incorporated western planning systems and the highly controlled Planning-Economy period established 'ideal' Danwei communities. A final urbanisation period transformed China's planned economy to a market economy. An urban planning revival has emerged but faces issues with intensification pressure inhibiting heritage protection.

    Kate Richardson 5473245

  4. Four broad historical periods in China: ancient China (before 1840), early modern China (1840-1949), the planning economy period (1949-1978) and the post-reform boom (1978-). 2 main urban design influences existed in ancient China.
    1. Cosmological thinking shaped cities in geometrically symmetrical forms using square grids with restrictive land use controls. Benefits of this thinking included permeability and strong centralised control.
    2. The pragmatic ideology built accordingly to topography and geography and was less restrictive than the cosmological thinking. Benefits of this influence was included environmental protection, more cost effective and created diverse and distinct spatial forms.

    Harry Choi 5540137

  5. Ancient China (pre 1840), Early Modern China (1840-1949), Planning Economy (1950-1978) and the Post Reform boom (1978-today). There were two polar opposite approaches to early Chinese urban planning and the layout of cities;

    The Pragmatic approach was favored in Southern China and structured urban areas according to topography: irregular and organic. The benefits of this approach is in increased diversity, responsiveness to changing influences, and generally cheaper.

    The Cosmological approach was one favored in Northern China, highly rational and controlled (gridded and axial with a central area, symmetrical with prominent buildings at centre). Highly centralised it allowed greater control over citizens and stronger defense. It is also more legible and permeable from a design perspective.

    The most recent boom in China is seeing competition between cities driving better design so it will be interesting to see how well these approaches accommodate competition in the quality of urban realm.

    Luke Carey 2655799

  6. Broad historical periods:
    Ancient China (-1840), Early Modern China (1840-1949), Planning Economy (1949-1978) and Post-Reform Boom (1978-).

    Cosmological thinking refers to the contrived design that emphasizes the importance of symmetry, hierarchical system and geomantic knowledge in conveying social values and ideologies. It becomes the underlying concept for urban design of official/capital cities.
    Such approach can be beneficial in creating sense of place (legibility) by forming grid street system while the hierarchical division of city can be seen as the early approach of zoning for different uses.

    The pragmatic ideology leads to the irregular and organic form of cities that is dependent on the natural topography. It encourages more creative and variable planning solutions and architecture designs. The concept of achieving harmony with nature also reflects early awareness of sustainability.

    Michelle (Qiaochu) Li 5523660

  7. Masato Nakamura 5352865August 2, 2014 at 1:27 PM

    In the history of China, four broad periods can be identified. These are ancient China (Pre 1840), early modern China (1840 – 1949), planning economy period (1949 – 1978) and post reform boom (1978 – present).
    The cosmological and pragmatic ideals had the most influence in early urban design.
    The cosmological approach forms cities with rigid grid patterns and strict rules on location of activities. Benefits include the city’s defence against external forces and social order.
    The Pragmatic approach is more organic, dependent on the local topography, seen in commercial cities in south-east China. Benefits include a diverse urban environment with identity.

  8. The history of China can be broken down into four broad periods; Ancient (pre-1840), Early Modern (1840-1949), planning economy (1949-1978) and Post-reform (1978-now).
    Two influences of the Ancient period of China are ‘cosmological’ thinking and ‘pragmatic’ ideology. Cosmological design involves grid structures with North-south orientation, generally seen in northern cities. This is beneficial as it allows more permeable and legible form of cities.
    Pragmatic design does not have a certain geometric structure which would be good in terms of increased diversity and creativity in urban designs by maximising the topographic and geographic opportunities, allowing more protection over land and resources.

    Eun Jung Lee 2232462

  9. Sarah Adams 2573646August 3, 2014 at 4:37 PM

    Four broad historical periods for China are:
    • <1840 - Ancient China
    • 1840-1949 - Early modern China
    • 1949-1978 - Planning economy period
    • 1978 onwards - Post-reform boom

    There were two main influences on urban design in the earliest period:
    • Cosmological thinking, which included strictly planned cities with a symmetrical and grid-like design. Benefits include being permeable, easily navigable, and safer within the city walls.
    • Pragmatic ideology, which resulted in cities that were irregular, not strictly planned, and followed the topography. Benefits include having originality, a more interesting street layout and the option to spread out to a greater extent as opposed to having a walled city.

    Sarah Adams 2573646

  10. Kasey Zhai 1838497August 3, 2014 at 7:24 PM

    Historical periods of China include:
    • Ancient China
    • Early modern China
    • Planning economy period
    • Post-reform boom

    Pragmatic and cosmological ideologies influenced urban design during Ancient China (pre 1840).

    The pragmatic approach aligned with the application of geomantic knowledge. Design considered the spiritual and physical characteristics of land, leading to diverse urban form and resilient developments crafted specific to surrounding environments.

    The cosmological ideal was fuelled by the desire to establish order and control within capital cities. Development consisted of square street grids. This allowed effective defensive functions and a methodical approach to zoning and subdivision, creating safe and easily navigable cities.

    Kasey Zhai

  11. Robyn Kvalsvig (2710997)August 4, 2014 at 8:49 AM

    The four planning periods in China include, Ancient China (before 1840), early-modern China (1840-1949), planning economy period (1949-1978) and post-reform boom (1978 – now).

    The earliest planning influences include:

    - Cosmology thinking used in official cities and designed in a square grid form. The benefits are that of a city that is permeable, easy to navigate, provides a stable economy.

    - Pragmatic ideology used for unofficial cities, based on the topography of the land and there are less restrictions on the design and layout of the city. Encouraged people to live in harmony with nature and ensured a more sustainable lifestyle.

    Robyn Kvalsvig (2710997)

  12. Michelle Burns 5364129August 4, 2014 at 8:59 PM

    There are four historical periods: Ancient China (pre-1840), Early Modern China (1840-1949), Planning Economy Period (1949-1978), and the Post-Reform Boom (1978-).
    The cosmological/rational design mostly found in northern China has a strict grid-like pattern, demonstrating the centralised control during that period. It benefits from its simplistic and easily navigable (although relatively boring) design, allowing for a strong defense system.
    The pragmatic approach in the south has a relaxed arrangement, reflecting the political/social structure of the area. Compared to the cosmological approach, It benefits due to being far more diversified and organic to fit around the natural topography thus encouraging sustainability.

    Michelle Burns 5364219

  13. Historical contexts of China:
    • Ancient China (pre 1840)
    • Early Modern China (1840-1949)
    • Planning economy period (1949-1978)
    • Post-reform boom (1978-present)
    Urban design has been influenced by ways of thinking from Ancient China, including ‘cosmological’ or ‘rational’ thinking, and ‘pragmatic ideology’. Cosmological/rational thinking espouses orderliness and rigidity, which is reflected in their cities with features such as a square grid street system and a centralised governing area. Cities with this approach are easier to defend and navigate. Pragmatic ideology is reflected in urban environments which are aligned with the topography and have a more organic street network. Cities with this influence take advantage of local conditions and reflect the environment.

    Brendan Versluys- 5918945

  14. Four broad historical periods for China are ancient China, early modern China, planning economy period and post-reform boom.
    The cosmological thinking organized cities in geometrically symmetrical layout by using square grid street system. It was mainly adopted in capitals, revealing the hierarchical and central controlled ritual system. Such walled and regular urban form gave the city strong defense system and provided a permeable and legible environment for its citizen.
    The pragmatic ideology shaped cities according to topography and climate. It allows city to grow organically and simultaneously in turn boost the diversity and creativity of urban form that can be found in many southern China cities. The spirit of conforming to nature and finding its own way out further demonstrated the entrepreneurship and flourishing commercial development in such cities.
    Jianan Wu (Jenna)- 5270747

  15. Kerryanne Lewis (5736818)August 6, 2014 at 4:02 PM

    The 4 broad historical periods for China:
    -Ancient China (pre-1840)
    -Early modern China (1840-1949)
    -Planning economy period (1949-1978)
    -Post-reform boom (1978-present)

    Two influences on urban design in Ancient China:
    -Cosmological thinking
    -Pragmatic ideology

    Cosmological thinking resulted in a well-structured grid street pattern. Benefits of this approach include cities being easily navigable, and also walkable due to good permeability.

    Pragmatic ideology resulted in irregular street systems that followed the topography of land. Benefits of this approach include an interesting and varied street pattern, and less environmental degradation by following the natural topography of land.

    Kerryanne Lewis (5736818)

  16. Jade Ansted

    Four historical periods of China
    -Ancient China (pre-1840)
    -Early Modern China (1840- 1949)
    -Planning Economy period (1949 to 1978)
    -Post Reform Boom (1978- )

    Influences that helped shape planning are “cosmological” and “pragmatic” thinking in city design. The “cosmological” city was based around axial symmetry and a dignified central area to govern from. “Cosmological” approach benefits are the legibility and ability to easily orientate yourself, they were also easier to defend. These were often seats of power. “Pragmatic” cities developed organically within the topography and were uniquely suited to the land. Being organic they have more interesting structure that better reflects the local character.

    ID 2696304

  17. Four broad historical periods of China are;
    • Ancient China (pre-1840)
    • Early modern China (1840-1949)
    • Planning economy period (1949-1978)
    • Post-reform boom (1978-present)

    Cosmological thinking and pragmatic ideology were two influences on Chinese urban design during the pre-1840 period.

    Cosmological planned cities, were official cities, consisting of a defined central area, and a gridded street system with a north-south orientation. Benefits include a permeable and navigable defensive city structure.

    Pragmatically designed cities were non-official cities. A relaxed city structure, with no definite orientation or gridded streets, allowed these cities to benefit from the natural environment and live a diverse and organic lifestyle.

    Jaiman Patel - 1844168

  18. China - Four broad historical periods:
    - Ancient China (pre - 1840)
    - Early Modern China (1840 - 1949)
    - Planning Economy Period (1949 - 1978)
    - Post-reform boom (1978 - Present Day)

    Two Influences:
    1. Cosmological
    2. Pragmatically

    Cosmological cities were predetermined cities, with symmetrical grid layouts surrounding a central building. The cities had a north-south orientation. Strong defensive capabilities, legibility, and permeability are some of the benefits of this approach.

    Pragmatic cities followed the topography of the natural environment and had an irregular layout. This approach enables creative, diverse, and integrated planning whilst being cheaper than the cosmological approach.

    Rahul Chand

  19. Ancient China (Before 1840)
    Early Modern China (1840-1949)
    Planning economy period (1949-1978)
    Post-reform boom(1978-present)
    Cosmological ideology: plan a city with grid layouts, axial symmetry and north-south orientation that base on Chinese traditional culture from ancient period. It is usually used in capital, ancient cities in northern china and has benefits on political, administrative and defensive use.
    Pragmatic cities: use geography and morphology such as rivers and mountains to develop a city with less regular shape in southern China. The plan of these cities will focus on natural and environmental features with less restrictive land use structures.

    Simiao Zou 2681401

  20. The four broad historical periods of China are ancient China before 1840, early modern China from 1840 to 1949, planning economy period from 1949 to 1978, and post-reform boom since 1978.

    The two major impacts on urban design in the early days are cosmological approach and pragmatic thinking.

    The cosmological approach advocates for symmetrical grid street patterns with stringent planning controls. It has generally led to more permeable and defensive designs in northern politcal centres.

    The pragmatic ideology embraces organic settlement adapted to local topography. It has been applied in southern commercial cities where a variety of urban forms follow natural features and accommodate multi-ethnic population.


  21. China’s history is summarised into four periods:
    - Ancient (pre 1840)
    - Early Modern (1840 – 1949)
    - Planning Economy (1949 – 1978)
    - Post-reform boom (1978 +)

    Key influences on Early Chinese cities:

    Cosmological thinking
    This controlled approach created cities with symmetrical grid-like street systems, which demonstrated social hierarchy and centralised control. These cities were easier to navigate and achieved strong defence purposes.

    Pragmatic ideology
    This relaxed approach established cities parallel to environmental barriers i.e. topography. Arguably these cities were semi-autonomous, connected to nature and geomantic; as a result a more diversified/organic streetscape and resilient to environmental conditions and social changes.

    Jessie (Jia Qin) Xie

  22. Sophia Lee La SelleAugust 8, 2014 at 8:08 PM

    The historical periods of China include:
    1. Ancient China (before 1840).
    2. Early modern China (1840-1949).
    3. The planning economy period (1949-1978).
    4. Post-reform boom (1978-today).
    Two influences of the Ancient China period:
    1. Cosmological thinking (Centralised control: predetermined cities, consisting of symmetrical and square grid like street patterns). Benefits include an increase in permeability; cities became safer, and allowed for an effective defense mechanism.
    2. Pragmatic approach (relaxed system: irregular street patterns that fit the topography of land). Benefits include interesting organic street layouts; due to following natural topography this results in less environmental adverse affects and degradation.

    Sophia Lee La Selle

  23. Four broad historical periods include Ancient China (before 1840), Early Modern China (1840-1949), Planning Economy Period (1949-1978), and Post-reform Boom (1978-).

    The following two approaches have influenced urban design:

    ‘Cosmological’ or ‘rational’ thinking resulted in very structured, rigid, planned cities that ignored topography. This grid pattern was reflected in the settlement of New Zealand (e.g. Wakefield’s developments). Benefits included legibility and permeability, and good defence protecting the centre.

    The ‘Pragmatic’ ideology created irregular cities that evolved naturally with no pre-planned grid structure or explicit geometrical centre. Benefits included practical land uses by acknowledging topography, and diverse structure and uniqueness.

    Sarah Burgess

  24. China’s four historical periods:

    - Ancient China (before1840)

    - Early modern China (1840 -1949)

    - Planning economy period (1949 -1978)

    - Post-reform boom (1978-present) 

    The two influences are:
    1. Cosmological thinking: Led to the creation of cities with rigid grid street pattern and order that gave no regard to topography. The benefits included strong defense of central government area, high permeability and legibility.

    2. Pragmatic ideology: Led to the development of irregular cities built to take advantage of the topography and other natural characteristics of the land. The benefits included diversity of urban forms, better protection of the natural environment and creation of unique places.

    Michelle Chan

  25. Baolin Zhang 5595904 张宝林August 10, 2014 at 10:56 PM

    Four broad historical periods for China:
    Ancient China (before 1840)
    Early modern China (1840-1949)
    The planning economy period (1949-1978)
    Post-reform boom (1979-today)

    Two main influences:
    “Cosmological” thinking was generally presented in official cities in northern China, involved with a dignified central area, geometrically symmetrical layout, and square grid street system. It can strengthen the centralization of authority. Cities with this approach are more permeable, legible and defensible.

    “Pragmatic” ideology could be seen in many non-official cities in southern China, in which the cities grew depending on the topography. Benefits include a higher diversity of urban form, more respect to natural environment, and fit in the local character.

    Baolin Zhang 5595904

  26. Carmen Yuen 5476956August 11, 2014 at 1:08 AM

    The four broad categories are:
    -Ancient China(before 1840)
    - Early modern China(1840-1949)
    - Planning economy period(1949-1978)
    - Post-reform boom(1978-present)
    The two predominant types of Chinese cities:
    1. Cosmological/rational thinking:planned,structured,designed cities
    These cities show order through symmetry and strategic planning.It often signifies a strong central area and depends on geomantic knowledge.Restrictions are also set to manage streetscapes and aesthetics.
    Benefits: good defence mechanism,permeability,ease of navigation, consistency(at the sacrifice of design divesity)
    2. Pragmatic ideology:irregular,organic cities
    These cities are influenced by topography and urban morphology.Planning is closely related to the natural environment and landscaping.
    Benefits: acknowledgement for the natural environment,environmental awareness,sustainability,interesting designs

  27. The four broad historical periods for China:

    Ancient China (pre 1840)
    Early modern China (1840-1949)
    Planning economy period (1949-1978)
    Post-reform boom (1978-)

    The ‘Cosmological’ or ‘rational’ approach to development incorporated axial symmetry, grid street system, centrally designated governing area, & North/South orientation. Benefits include, greater connectivity, permeability legibility, and a more manageable/structured urban form.

    Conversely, the ‘Pragmatic’ approach was more organic. Not dependent on topography, had no explicit orientation, no grid system and no definite centre. Benefits include, the development of a varied and interesting urban environment, and greater preservation of natural features and the natural environment.

    Josh Kennedy

  28. Four broad historical periods of China:

    • Ancient China (pre 1840)
    • Early Modern China (1840-1949)
    • Planning Economy Period (1949-1978)
    • Post-reform Boom (1978-present)

    Cosmological/rational (official cities) thinking were typically capital cities in northern China that followed a grid system with the centre of the city holding governance over the capital. Benefits include permeability, legibility and a strong defence.

    Pragmatic ideology (non-official cities) emerged in southern China and were seen as more organic and irregular cities as they followed the topography of the land. Benefits include the diversity in urban form which led to a more sustainable city.

    Nickolas Renton - 4993863

  29. Ancient China (before 1840s)
    Early modern China (1840s- 1949)
    Planning economy period (1949-1978)
    Post- reform boom (1978 -)

    Two key influences:

    Cosmological thinking: led to cities that were symmetrical, had a grid-like street pattern with a dignified central area, which were typical of capital official cities in Northern China. The benefit of this approach is that it encourages the creation of permeable cities

    Pragmatic ideology: led to irregular cities, built to take advantage of the typography and other natural characteristics. This approach encourages diverse built forms that are suitable for a particular location, and reduces environmental degradation.

    Qiuan Wang #2904396

  30. Brittney SutherlandAugust 12, 2014 at 3:52 PM

    Four broad historical periods:
    • Ancient china(before 1840)
    • Early modern china(1840-1949)
    • Planning economy period(1949-1978);and
    • Post-reform boom(1978-2014)
    Key influences on the earliest period:
    1) Cosmological thinking-Shaped urban form that was geometrically symmetrical,rational,highly controlled and was favored in northern China. Characteristically had grid block structures, and restrictive land use controls. Benefits included permeability,centralized control and city security.
    2) Pragmatic idealogy-Was an organic system that was not strictly planned.Urban form was built according to the topography and geography which allowed for expansion and more interesting urban areas and was favoured in southern China.This benefited the environment,was cost effective,enhanced diversity and created more resilient cities.

    Brittney Sutherland 4993177