Polytechnic University of Valencia Congress, 24th ISUF 2017 - City and Territory in the Globalization Age

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Spatial Structure in Chinese and Japanese Cities: A Comparative Study of the Supergrid and Superblock Structure
Xiaofei Chen

Last modified: 11-05-2018


Title: Spatial Structure in Chinese and Japanese Cities: A Comparative Study of the Supergrid and Superblock Structure

Author Name: Xiao Fei Chen

Affiliation: Faculty of Architecture Design and Planning, The University of Sydney

Address: The Wilkinson Bldg G04, 148 City Rd, Darlington NSW 2008

Email Address: xche3951@Sydney.edu.au

Mobile: 61 (02) 0450875226

Keywords: Supergrid and Superblock, Urban Morphology, China and Japan


Supergrids and Superblocks form an urban structure that extends across large areas of many Chinese and Japanese cities. The grid structures consist of wide roads at a city scale and define Superblocks, each with a network of narrower streets. My paper investigates the form-function interrelationships of these structures from morphological perspectives against a backcloth of theory that stresses an integrated network of streets as the prerequisite for a convenient and synergetic environment, with a specific focus on road/street networks, and mix and distribution of functional activities. Both qualitative and quantitative methods (including space syntax) are used to investigate four Superblocks from two pairs of Chinese and Japanese cities: Xi’an and Kyoto, and Nanjing and Osaka, from three aspects: integration, connection and interaction. Here I focus on the Nanjing-Osaka pair and the findings demonstrate clear but divergent patterns between the two cities, which are indicative of general differences between Chinese and Japanese Superblocks: there are very strong interrelationships between the street network and distribution of activities in the Japanese Superblocks, but these are much less evident in the Chinese Superblocks and this results largely from the extensive Chinese cultural practice of building walls around compounds. It reveals some structural disadvantages, leading to congestion of traffic and functional activities in some strategic locations in Chinese Superblocks. It also highlights some crucial qualities in the structures of many Japanese Superblocks that can provide inspiration for China’s future urban development and possibly for cities in other parts of the world.


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