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

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A Study of Chinese Traditional Wetland Island Settlement Combining Morphological and Narrative Analyses
Dongxue Lei, Andong Lu

Last modified: 15-05-2018


A Study of Chinese Traditional Wetland Island Settlement Combining Morphological and Narrative Analyses

Dongxue Lei¹, Andong Lu²

School of Architecture and Urban Planning, Nanjing University

Hankou Road 22#, Gulou District, Nanjing, China

E-mail: dxlei@outlook.com, andonglu@gmail.com

Keywords (3-5): wetland island settlement, morphology, townscape, cognitive map

Conference topics and scale: Tools of analysis in urban morphology



The Lixiahe region, a low-lying wetland located to the eastern side of the Huaiyang section of the Grand Canal, is characterized by a complex hydrological environment and has changed slowly in the urbanization process. The historical town of Shagou, a representative case of island settlements in this region, has a recorded history of continuous morphological change over six hundred years. Regarding Shagou as a cultural-geographical entity, this article aims at combining morphological analysis and narrative-based cognitive mapping to revel the characteristic townscape that strongly depends on cultural-geographic complexity. Based on survey work, this article will first define distinguishable plan elements that underpins the spatial form of Shagou: 1) natural context; 2) streets system; 3) plots system, and then investigate diachronically different phases of  the formation of its spatial structure. On the other hand, based on archiving and data analysis of the oral history study, this article will generate a narrative cognitive map, in terms of paths, nodes, landmarks and areas. In conjunction with fieldwork and documentary record, this study testifies that the method derived from the plan analysis developed by Conzon is applicable to the study of wetland island settlement form in China and that narrative spatial analysis provides important supplemental spatial information. A careful combination of these methods might be used for understanding culturally embedded settlement forms in China.


References (100 words)

Conzen, M. R. G. (1960) Alnwick, Northumberland: A Study in Town-plan Analysis (London, George Philip).

Herman, D. (ed.) (2003) Narrative theory and the cognitive sciences (Center for the Study of Language and Information Publication).

Whitehand, J. W. R. and Gu, K. (2007) ‘Extending the compass of plan analysis: a Chinese exploration’, Urban Morphology, 11(2), 91-109.

Whitehand, J. W. R. and Gu, K. (2007) ‘Urban conservation in China: Historical development, current practice and morphological approach’, The Town Planning Review, 78(5), 643-670.








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