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Transit Oriented Development in China: Designing a New Transit Oriented Neighbourhood in Hexi New Town, Nanjing, Based on Hong Kong Case Studies

China is urbanizing rapidly and questions regarding urban sustainability has arisen. Researchers point out that China is going through a sub-urbanization with increasing automobile-dependence. Researchers underline that, with the concurrent rapid growth taking place on the urban periphery of Chinese cites, now is the critical time to achieve a sustainable urban form through implementation of Transit- Oriented Development (TOD).

Researchers argue that while Chinese cities are currently investing heavily in infrastructure for mass transportation, they fail in integrating land use with transit. Furthermore, regarding urban design, the accessibility for non-motorized travellers is not well catered for.

Although the concept of Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) can be traced to originate in Europe and the US, it has gained significant attention in China. Hong Kong is pointed out as the benchmark for how the TOD concept can be implemented in Asian cities and specifically in mainland China. Therefore a case study of several neighbourhoods in Hong Kong was made, using the TOD aspects Density, Diversity, Design, Destination accessibility and Distance to transit.

To implement these principles, a case in Nanjing was chosen. Hexi New Town is a large scale commercial and residential area planned in the last ten years, and currently under construction. Several metro lines are constructed simultaneously with the development, yet the opportunity of fully integrating the new development with transit was missed.

In this thesis, functional zoning, lack of density concentration around transit, and a focus on auto-oriented urban design were identified as the main problems. Plans are underway for extending the metro lines further out to the surrounding countryside. The aim of this thesis is to propose a design for a new neighbourhood around one of the future metro stations, using a transit-oriented concept. The long term goal is reduced car dependence.

After taking into account local restraints in Nanjing, the key findings were synthesized into a set of design principles. While many aspects of previous developments in Hexi are kept, the proposal greatly contrasts with existing developments in the way land use is integrated with transit and how the public space is designed.

The built environment is proposed to focus on providing ease of access for pedestrians, instead of the current car dominance. The level of mixed-use is greater and the distribution of density is more integrated with transit.

Far more public places are also proposed. However, the use of Hong Kong design principles meant that local planning regulations could not be followed. The study shows that in order to fully implement the TOD strategies of Hong Kong, changes need to be made to the current Nanjing planning regulations. Central government policies promoting car sales as a way to grow the GDP is another problematic obstacle for obtaining the desired benefits of a transit-oriented design.
Source: Blekinge Institute of Technology
Author: Bruce, Christian

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