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The Challenge of Place Identity in the Making and Experience of New Chinese Urban Square

Xu, Qin (2017) The Challenge of Place Identity in the Making and Experience of New Chinese Urban Square. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

This research investigates the evolution and identity of Chinese urban square, and how people use and perceive the urban squares in Chongqing. It aims to fill the potential gaps of the theoretical understanding of place identity in Chinese academic field, through an exploration of existing western literature regarding the place-related identity. The physical environment, social interaction and personal experience are identified as essential aspects that contribute greatly to the formation of place identity. A mix method approach is adopted to examine the relevance of theses theoretical findings with Chinese context in order to develop recommendations for future urban square design with an emphasis on improving its place identity. The historic review of the urban development of Chinese cities recognizes the impact of traditional legacy on the current understanding and space making strategies of urban squares. It is suggested that the representational design approach of urban squares that has largely focused on the physical environment is not only derived from ancient city making rules, but also associated with the political and economic incentives nowadays. Upon the awareness of the social values of urban square in terms of delivering a sense of identity, three case studies of three urban squares in Chongqing are conducted to examine how people use and perceive the urban square in their everyday life. The findings of case study confirm that ‘place’ is essentially a social product that acquires its meaning largely from human interpretation and experience. Despite the discontinuity between the contemporary urban square and traditional Chinese urban form, the emerging public activities are found to contribute significantly to the establishment of place identity by creating a bond of experience that incorporates both cultural and physical impacts. The research also demonstrates that the production of urban square in Chinese city cannot be regarded as merely technical issue dealing with physical dimension, rather, the social interaction that entails could shape the people-place relationship and the identity of it. The institutional changes and innovations in design strategy, as well the public engagement is recommended for future development of Chinese urban square that aims to deliver a sense of place identity.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Landscape (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Qin Xu
Date Deposited: 21 May 2018 08:42
Last Modified: 21 May 2018 08:42
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/20173

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