Changing landscape uses in China

Use of landscape and recreation is changing in China. Over the last few years I have been in China landscape uses have changed from passive uses(people watching, reading, singing & card/table games) with a some active uses(dancing, exercises, badminton & kite flying) to more and more different uses. There has been a great increase in active(roller blading, basketball, tennis, football(soccer), running, dog walking/running) and passive (more younger people reading/chatting on phones, computers and electronic devices). As landscape architects we need to address this increase in uses not only in designing parks but also for future planning. Future planning is one area that requires greater involvement from landscape architects and government, there are numerous passive parks around major cities and new cities but not enough future planning for active recreation.

Passive Recreation

In The Park from Ricardo Mendialdua on Vimeo.

There is also a change in the use of regional and national parks as tourism increases and younger (&older) generations start to get participate in ‘newer’ sports such as skateboarding, bmx/fixies, rollerblading, skiing, snowboarding although not that new to western countries these are burgeoning sports that are spreading across the nation. Although Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, Guangzhou may already have some of the facilities for these sports there is a need for urban designers, landscape architects and landscape planners to plan for these future uses. Leaving planning to later will lead to ad-hoc landscape design and planning along with devastated landscapes as developers & government see a need in the market and rush to provide facilities. Also remembering that there are sports and uses that haven’t been invented yet and that unplanned or disused areas (not oversized plazas) are needed to allow new forms of recreation will be created and grow.

Active Recreation

Shanghai Basketball from Paul Hammond on Vimeo.

“串儿 (chuan’r)” is a snow boarding video parks in Beijing – one indoor park and one outdoor park. Also is shows that brands and parks are blurring the lines between public, private spaces and park funding. “串儿 (chuan’r)” teaser from Steve Zdarsky on Vimeo.

6 Questions you need to answer when planning a business, startup or idea

Starting a business, a startup or conceptualising an idea can be exciting and hard work but there is a need to focus on the basics so that you can then go to the next step by formulating and ‘fleshing out’ the idea. I have 6 questions I ask people when looking at a new idea for a business, product, or concept. What, Why, How, Who, Where and When. These may seem very simple and easy questions to answer but often people are too focused on the idea or getting customers, creating logos, renting office space and forget the basics. Answering these questions is one of the most important things you do before you spend any money or time on trying to get customers or move forward. You can change the answers at any time and the answers can some flexibility. Having answers that are too broader can hinder the idea and the need to focus is needed so that you resources are used efficiently and effectively.

What is it? What are you selling or creating? What are the services, products, ideas? What are you hoping to achieve with this service, product, idea?

Why are you selling or creating the service, product or idea? If its only for money, start again or trash the idea. Why you are doing something is the main driver for your business or idea, if you are doing it only for money you will quickly lose interest if it is not something you are passionate about or have experience doing. If the main reason is working less hours, or more time with family, to make the world a better place, to improve the industry, bringing a new idea into the market, then you have a driver and the motivation to succeed. Why is probably the most important question out of the six questions.

How are you going to do it? What approach will you take? Do you have the money to start?  if not, how are you going to get the money? How will you distribute the product? How will you market it?

Who are your customers? Who will be your suppliers? Who will market the product, service, etc? Who will sell the product? Who will be you customers 5 years from now? Who will

Where are you setting up the business? Where will the office be? Where will you ship to? Where will the product come from? then go back to How and ask yourself How again.

When will you start the business? When will you break-even? When will you feel comfortable? When will you open another office or location? When will you exit the business?

These are only some of the questions you should be asking yourself when thinking about a startup, business, or idea. Each of the six questions should be asked when you approach any facet of your business. These questions should be used for ideas, projects, pitching, allowing you or your audience to easily understand the What? Why? How? Who? Where? and When? Answering these easy question can make your business run smoothly and you will avoid confusion between people internally and externally.


Response to Sean Chiao: Planning China’s megacities

Mega-cities are becoming a hot topic in China and academics & government seems to moving on from eco-city and low carbon city to mega-city. Recently Sean Chiao, the executive vice president of China for AECOM posted Planning China’s megacities on McKinsey stating that Mega-cities need to be planned, managed in an innovative way. Scott goes on to talk about rules and guidelines for cities.

For Chinese megacities to function properly, there must be clear state policies on how to build and run them, as well as strict audits to ensure that the laws are followed. Rules and guidelines on how to build a “green” infrastructure—from buildings, bridges, transport networks, and sanitation systems to power grids, incentives for consuming power efficiently, and disincentives for energy abuse and malpractice must be mandated and put into practice.

He also discusses that planning of mega-cities should be multi-disciplinary and that government and private sector need to work together due to the complexity of the planning a mega-city.

I agree mega-cities need multi-disciplinary teams to create, design and retrofit existing mega-cities and regulation is required to ensure that the design is implemented. The greatest area that needs to be addressed in urban planning in China is assessment and auditing of the implementation of urban plans in China. Assessment of the implementation of Conceptual Master Plans and DCMP’s is key to learning what has been successful and what has failed. Often in Urban Design Masterplans are implemented but the formal independent assessment needs to be improved – there is abundant anecdotal evidence and some reports from government but this information needs to be formally recorded and assessed to allow designers of future urban designs to be able to learn how to design a successful CBD, new area development, or revitalise an old city. Cities should be commissioning independent assessments and reports and then placing this information in a system platform that all government departments can access.

Regulation and guidelines are key to planning mega-cities but we can over-regulate thus stifling innovative and creative solutions for cities. Often regulations go too far by setting too many constraints such as colour palettes for architecture. If we over regulate we often end up with generic cities or monotonous superblock after superblock of the similar architecture with same colours. Regulations and guidelines have their place in urban planning but they need to be used with utmost care.

Mega-cities are a good solution to creating energy efficient and productive cities but we need to ensure that the social aspect of these cities is catered for through urban parks, urban plazas, pedestrian streets, and forests with varying scale of developments with enough community and social services to cater for the people of a mega-city. Providing spaces for social interaction is just as important to a city as providing energy efficient buildings, integrated transport systems, and green infrastructure. Cities are merely buildings and roads without people.