Research Seminar on New Towns in China

This research seminar is the first phase of a 2 1/2 year research project on new towns sponsored by the China Vanke Co. Vanke is the largest home builder in China and has developed a number of large-scale communities and several new towns. The class will focus on Vanke’s new towns as well as other new towns in China with particular emphasis on new towns in the Chongqing municipality. Students will select one of the topics below as the focus of their research. The class will meet weekly and will include a one-week site visit to China from March 7-14, 2015. Students will examine best practices and innovative solutions to address the research questions based on study of both new towns and other forms of urban development and redevelopment around the world. While students will focus on specific research questions, they will learn about all aspects of new town and large-scale community development including planning, urban design, economics, phasing, transportation, governance, social organization, and other aspects of creating and building both successful and unsuccessful new towns.

The research papers will address the following research questions that are relevant to new town developers everywhere:

1. How to add parking and automobile access to existing communities that were designed for lower car ownership.
2. How to design and build playgrounds, both for children and the elderly, that are safe, attractive, and create the best possible amenity.
3. How to manage and maintain hi-rise and low-rise apartments, including how to apply the U.S. experience of multiple levels of homeowner and condominium associations.
4. How to integrate people from widely different backgrounds in order to create a greater sense of community.
5. How to design and enhance the quality of open space, the built environment, and landscaping.
6. How to improve community management, customer services between the new town developer and the residents, and lessons from communities in other countries such as the Netherlands, Great Britain, and the U.S. with respect to long term community management.
7. How to jumpstart social services at the beginning of new town development; how to jumpstart the sense of belonging and community within the new town.
8. How to maintain and enhance property values over time.

The site-visit to China in the Spring will focus on communities chosen to highlight the questions raised above. It will include a cross-section of new towns and large-scale communities developed by Vanke and other major new town developers in China. Students will be encouraged to develop their research topics further after the course ends through theses or scholarly papers. The class will culminate in a presentation at Harvard at the end of the term and a written report that will go to the Sponsor and contributors to the class. Students who write the best papers will be invited to take part in a Research Forum on New Towns to be held at Harvard in 2016, and to publish synopses of their papers in the Forum Proceedings.

A few things to keep in mind:
You need to select the course as one of your three choices in the Limited Enrollment Lottery. See below for more information about pre-selection process.