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Typomorphology and the crisis of Chinese cities

Chen, F. (2008) Typomorphology and the crisis of Chinese cities. Urban Morphology, 12 (2). pp. 45-47.

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Abstract

Chinese cities are at serious risk of becoming placeless and losing their cultural identity in a wave of urbanization and globalization. At present, Chinese urban morphological approaches lack an adequate theoretical basis to deal with the problem. However, Western-derived typomorphology, though lacking a widely acknowledged definition hitherto, is attracting increasing interest in China and offers a solution. The treating of existing urban artefacts as an operative history and the establishment of a solid information database for the transformation of urban forms over time are approaches that Chinese scholars can learn from their Western counterparts. The merits of typomorphology, which is based largely on the typological theory of the Italian School and the urban morphological theory of the British Conzenian School, relate particularly to three aspects: cultural representation and symbolism, morphological references or design language, and effective communication.