AHO Logo

The Urbanization of Rural China

Type of project
Basic research

About the project

The project deals with transformation processes in rural China, and contributes to research on rural areas globally.  

The research project discusses the effects of this transformation on Chinese Villages. The methodology is based on case studies and what in architecture is termed as a morphological approach. The case studies are mostly done by PhD students from AHO and the China Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), and do also evaluate current rural development processes.

Most research within planning and urbanism has for the recent decades dealt with urban growth and urban transformation. Rural areas have been discussed as a subject for urbanization as: “suburban”, “peri-urban”, “mellomlandet”, “desacota” as part of the “metropolitan” area or “regional urban areas”, or “Città Diffusa“, to mention a few of the international terms. It is quite correct that rural areas with primary production related to agriculture, forestry, fisheries and fish-farming (sjømatnæringa), and mining are more and more integrated into urban socio-culture and urban Economy. Also, quarterly industries like recreational activities and tourism strengthen the urban character of rural areas. Heavy investment in technical infrastructure in the countryside (both China and Norway) has the same effect.

However, there are also other distinctive characteristics to the current development in rural areas. Examples are industrialization of primary production (agriculture, forestry and fisheries), changes in ownership and accessibility to the resources, changes in settlement structure and investments in and localization of huge projects, well published examples are new battery-factories for Tesla in Nevada USA. The research on Norwegian white-fisheries, ending in the book “Fiskevær – Myre på yttersida” (currently being translated into English, Chinese translation planned) is a Norwegian example of contemporary rural studies.

China has between 1,5 and 2 million rural villages. The Chinese government assumes that urban growth in the next twenty years will occur on the same scale as in the recent decades. An intention in Chinese urban policies is to handle a main part of future urbanisation in small and medium-size cities. This intention is considered to be a part of strategies to modernise and urbanise the Chinese countryside and in this way, reduce regional differences and rural poverty.