CNU XV Blog, Part 11: China and India

MLewyn's picture

John Ellis spoke this afternoon on sprawl-producing policies in China and India. Like America in 1900, China has historically suffered from overcrowding. And in response, China has made some of the same mistakes as America in the mid 20th century- such as reckless highway building and superblocks in which buildings are isolated from each other and from the streets.

One of China's unusual policies is rigid "solar codes" which require certain minimum amounts of solar exposure for every building. In the absence of careful design, compliance with solar codes requires buildings to be isolated from each other. However, Ellis pointed out that innovative design can solve these problems.

Similarly, India is also imitating American mistakes. Indian cities are expanding their subway systems - but like many American rail stations, Indian rail stations are often surrounded by parking lots rather than transit-oriented development. Ellis went on to discuss some NU projects he worked on in China and India which seek to create more walkable environments.

More study of Chinese and Indian policies would be useful to respond to the common claim that auto-oriented development in those countries is more evidence of the inevitability of sprawl. If the situations discussed by Ellis are typical, it may be that in India and China, as in America, auto-oriented sprawl is a result of government policy as well as consumer preference.

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