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Projects | Designing the Human City

Projects

Click the links to read updates from the teams about their various field explorations taking place across Beijing.

 

#Bicycle Urbanism
Elaine Zhou, Jia Kun, Joyce Hujing, Valerie Gamao, Yipei Shen

In partnership with Smarter Than Car, we explored the daily lives of individuals making a living with the bicycle. We utilized both quantitative field surveys and qualitative interviews, including counting livelihoods at various locations and investigating the daily lives and routines of these people. These bicycle-based livelihoods permit flexible lifestyles for the individual, lower the barrier of entry to the city, and enliven the mix of uses of urban space by society.

#Cultural Preservation
Alice Fang, Aiwa Muaihua, Caroline Nowacki, Qihan (Philip) Luo

Our group’s goals are to measure and define social life in hutongs [Chinese lanes], as well as characterize preservation programs and urban change in one protected hutong neighborhood: Liulichang. We interviewed residents and documented the impact of the restoration program led by the government, which rebuilds the exterior of most hutong homes (mostly using non-historic materials) but not helping to restore the interior of the houses. We experienced how vibrant the main streets of the neighborhood are and how private and calm the residential streets can be. We also gained a better understanding of the challenge of restoring hutongs, and of the vision and needs of inhabitants. There are great resources in the hutongs—not only houses with a long history, but people with great talent. We are inspired to support these people in their endeavors and share our discoveries with the public.

#Land Use
Mercedes Peterson, Tucker Bryant, Yuxiao Pu, Zirai Huang

This project seeks to understand how access to the various amenities available to Beijing citizens varies depending on the type of residence a Beijinger lives in. We are interested in how the spatial layout of different kinds of services changes, when comparing two residences known for markedly different demographics. To gauge the level and type of service provision that exists among different residence types, we took a census of all of the services available within a 500 meter radius of two different types of housing units, sorting the services into 19 different categories. Our research revealed a large difference in both the density of services available to citizens depending on their residence, as well as large differences in the types of services available to them. These findings help us to reframe the question of what exactly “accessibility” to different services means and how it affects people’s behavior and livelihood.

#Food Systems
Adriana Baird, Alec Hogan, Han Lin (Nancy), Moon Wang, Zhou (Zoey) Yang

“Food systems” is a broad topic, encompassing many sub-systems as vast as the spices on a street vendor’s pancakes. From the waste disposal system to the number of restaurants in a certain area, the quality of food in supermarkets to the preferences of consumers, everything can be considered part of the overarching food system that exists in Beijing. We narrowed the scope of our research by focusing on one block in Wudaokou, and delved into three particular aspects of the food system in Beijing that we have deemed significant to a sustainable human city: food quality, food and waste disposal, and the role of food in Chinese culture.

#Energy
Christina Zhou, Elsa Wang, Noelle Herring

Buildings account for about 20% of China’s energy use, with heating accounting for nearly half of China’s urban residential building energy consumption. Some methods of heating and cooling have clear advantages over others with respect to cost, convenience, health, and environmental impacts. Our project explored many of the existing heating systems in Haidian District, where Tsinghua is located. Over a four day period, we spoke with construction workers, elderly residents, faculty, students, energy experts, and service employees and investigated the range of HVAC options including air conditioning appliances, electric radiators, coal boilers, heat pumps, and district heating.

#Electric Vehicles
Geena Chen, Fay Yang, William Woo, Sophia Wu

Our group is researching the electric vehicle market in Beijing by interviewing EV users and experts, and photographing the EVs we find in our neighborhoods. So far we have learned about the specific needs of Beijing’s EV market in the coming years. The government hopes to grow the EV market to five million sales by 2020, up from 45,000 currently. We hope our findings will give an idea of what the growth of the electric car market will look like in Beijing, and other Chinese cities, in the near future.

 

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