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Developing smart and green rural settlements for the rapid urbanizing China: Experience learnt from England
1  College of Architectutre and Urban Planning, Beijing University of Technology


As a part of the modernization process, China's cities and towns have been growing unprecedentedly both in quantity and size. While the efforts of planning and design are largely focused on the urban domain, the country's vast rural settlements are given insufficient guidance on land use, construction management and socio-economic transformation. Consequently the development in many rural communities suffers from a range of problems, such as the lack of basic infrastructure, poor sanitation, environmental contamination, chaotic building form and substandard building quality. In some richer areas, especially those close to large cities, there is also a growing trend to modernize the countryside by the simple application of urban planning methods resulting in the loss of idyllic landscape and rustication. Both of these development patterns lead to a low quality of life and unsustainable rural form. As China accelerates its urbanization process, it is imperative to explore appropriate planning and renovation techniques for rural settlements so that they could embrace modern lifestyle while at the same time possess smart and green form. In this comparative study, references are drawn from the practice in modern England where countryside has always been a symbol of life quality and low carbon footprint. However even in England, many villages have actually been fashioned to suit people's image of a traditional rural scene rather than the demands of farming or industry for which they were first established. The adaptive strategies and features that have reshaped English villages could inspire the development of the Chinese counterpart for today. This includes the form of dwellings and public spaces, material usage and detailing, incorporation of modern and green technology, and enhancement of natural environment. Physical transformation must be in line with a broader pageant of socio-economic change if it is to bring a sustainable future to rural settlements.

Keywords: Chinese rural settlements, English village, sustainable development