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

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A study on the history of urban morphology in China based on discourse analysis
Limeng Zhang, Andong Lu

Last modified: 15-05-2018


A study on the history of urban morphology in China based on discourse analysis

Limeng Zhang¹, Andong Lu¹

¹School of Architecture and Urban Planning, Nanjing University. Nanjing University

Hankou Road 22#, Gulou District, Nanjing, China
E-mail: 554361151@qq.com, andonglu@gmail.com

Key words: urban morphology, terminology, discourse analysis

Conference topics and scale: Literature review


(Supported by the Natural Science Foundation of China, Grant No.: 51478215)


Urban morphology is a method widely used in China in the field of urban design and urban conservation. Since its first introduction to the Chinese context about 20 years ago, the key ideas and concepts of urban morphology underwent a significant phenomenon of ‘lost in translation’. Different origins of morphological thoughts, different versions of translation, as well as different disciplinary context, have all together led to a chaotic discourse. This paper reviews the key Chinese articles in the field of urban morphology since 1982 and draws out a group of persistent keywords, such as evolution, axis, urban fringe belt, plan unit and plot, that characterize the morphological approach to urban issues. By reviewing the transformation of the definition of these keywords, this paper aims to generate an evolutionary map of landmark ideas and concepts, based on which, four stages in the development of urban morphology in China can be identified: emergence, growth, maturity, practice. The mapping methodology could be extrapolated to other words, and the obtained evolutionary map could be a basic tool for further study.



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Duan Jin, and Qiu Guochao. 'The Emergence and Development of Overseas Urban Morphology Study' [J], Urban Planning Forum, 2008(5):34-42.

M. P. Conzen, Kai Gu, J. W. R. Whitehand. Comparing traditional urban form in China and Europe: a fringe belt approach [D]. Urban Geography, 2011.

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