Social neighbourhood design in urban residential development

  • I-Chen Li

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This research explores social neighbourhood design for urban residential development in contemporary cities. It investigates the empirical and theoretical basis that is behind the attempt to promote social neighbourhood through the physical design of communities. A social neighbourhood is defined and examined through two interactive perspectives: residential development in urban planning as a political determinant of the social neighbourhood and social cohesiveness as a social indicator of the social neighbourhood design. This research combines historical heritage investigations and contemporary comparative case studies to proposing generalisation into new neighbourhood theory. An empirical inquiry from the application of large scale, traditional Chinese Courtyard Housing (CCH) principles as guidelines for the neighbourhood design with social cohesiveness in contemporary urban residential development. By investigating historical neighbourhoods in their dynamic settings, describes real-life settings, explores patterns of commonalities and differences and explains the causal links of observed patterns to make comparisons, proposing generalisations, and neighbourhood theory. The research also investigated the spatial relationships among numbers of CCH buildings, as a result, there are three key elements that highlighted the creation of community spirit in terms of spatial layout which are the role of communal space, sense of enclosure, security, gradual privacy and child rearing. The positive dominant factors in the history of CCH neighbourhoods include three key points for cultivating community spirit: space, people, and activities. This research suggests that semi-public and semi-private neighbourhood communal space is defined as an extension of the residential environment of each household within neighbourhood planning. The activities of the residents that occurred in the courtyards (used as a reference for corresponding management activities of contemporary communities) were closely related to people in the community (i.e. each household). A strong sense of community has been associated with the spatial arrangement of CCH neighbourhoods, this sense of community facilitates increased feelings of safety and security, encouragement of neighbourhood communal participation and casual interaction. Research on traditional CCH neighbourhoods have found that positive interactions between people can be improved by implementing urban planning systems, community volunteer organizations, complimentary measures and activities that meet local demands, and efficiently designed residential communities. The solutions identified can be adapted and implemented into contemporary planning for urban apartments, high-rise buildings and suburban settings.
    Date of Award2015
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorDianne Firth (Supervisor) & Joelle Vandermensbrugghe (Supervisor)

    Cite this