Category Archives: Project

Land Use Team Update

This post is by Tucker Bryant, Zirai Huang, Mercedes Peterson, Yuxiao Pu

The bulk of the progress made so far in team Land Use (a better name is to be decided) has been in solidifying our research purpose, approach, and plan. As far as our purpose is concerned, we decided that, with the resources available to us, we wanted to focus our study on understanding who in Beijing has access to what kinds of services and amenities—a question whose answer lies in the way Beijing’s land is used. We felt that this would be an important question to investigate because answering it will help us understand how different living environments around the city can influence the degree to which a citizen’s day-to-day needs are met, and how a lack of access to certain services can lead to costs (especially environmentally and economically) that have important implications on the sustainability of Beijing’s urban communities.

Continue reading Land Use Team Update

Cultural Preservation Team Update

This post is by Alice Fang, Aiwa Musihua, Caroline Nowacki, Qihan (Philip) Luo

To study cultural preservation, our team started by using the mind map method to brainstorm concepts and ideas related to cultural preservation. On this map, we identified six main themes:

  1. Possible conflict between old and new (visible in the spatial space or not);
  2. How to identify what to preserve;
  3. Perception of culture, old and new;
  4. Multiplicity of stakeholders and their diverse interests;
  5. Location of culturally rich districts; and
  6. Cost and benefits of cultural preservation.

From this brainstorming session, we jumped into field study and decided to visit a famous preserved historic district: Dashilar. Dashilar is a traditional neighborhood made of hutongs or narrow alley and located just South of Tian’an Men. The Central Government chose to protect and renovate this area. The facades and shops on the main streets have been rebuilt and repainted and the place is now a vibrant touristic area. Our first fieldwork focused on understanding the nature and number of businesses on the main street, observe who walked in the street and who worked there, and finally interview one person. This person was actually the owner of a courtyard house (Siheyuan) not too far from Dashilar and invited us to visit her courtyard and continue the discussion about the challenges of living there and having to maintain a house that is protected by the Government.

Continue reading Cultural Preservation Team Update

Bicycle Urbanism Team Update

This post is by Valerie Gamao, Joyce Hujing, J.K., Yipei Shen, Elaine Zhou

Our group is Bicycle Urbanism and Livelihoods. We’re Elaine, Valerie, Yipei, Joyce, and JK. We hail from different states in the US and provinces in China, and three different majors (earth systems, interaction design, and computer science).


Our first day, we brainstormed a variety of questions on urban bicycling and bicycle livelihoods. We used the mind-mapping method to collect all of our questions into four categories: the individual, bicycle, environment, and society. From the brainstorming session, we realized we had so many unanswered questions, even as to “what is a bike?” or what kind of bicycles are relevant to Beijing. Thus, we launched right into our first field study, to get a sense of types of bikes, how and why people bike in this city. We decided to observe the bicycle scene close to our home base: Wudaokou and the Tsinghua East Gate. Our methodology included counting for 6 minutes and informal interviews.

At each site, we recorded 6 minutes of time-lapse footage and counter the number of bikers passing by, as categorized by the types of bike (mechanical, electric, or electric scooter). At Wudoukou, we found 28 mechanical bikes, 9 electric bikes, and 25 scooters. There were many more cars and didn’t seem to be a clear preference for bicycle type. However, it was evident that different bikes were favored by particular demographics — younger people for electric bikes and scooters, versus older folks for mechanical bikes. At the East Gate however, we found 113 mechanical bikes, 11 electric bikes, and 19 electric scooters. With the focus narrowed down to a student demographic on a university campus, the preference for mechanical bikes is very clear.

Continue reading Bicycle Urbanism Team Update