New 'world' morphology: Outlining the Chinese megablock urbanism (CMU) block morphology and physical characteristics

Yixuan Peng, G Bruyns, Qu Lei, Darren Henry Nel

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingConference article published in proceeding or bookAcademic researchpeer-review


If we reexamine the question of scale, the “mega” remains a significant concept to our understanding of the contemporary territory. In the past forty years, China, has experienced an unprecedented scale of rapid urbanization within human history, urbanizing from 17.9% to 58.5% in this time (NBSC, 2018). In order to achieve this rate of urbanization, new tools and scales were indispensable. As such, mega planning has been become a key concern at both the national and local scales of Chinese spatial planning (Yin, 2010). As evidence, this has resulted in mega projects becoming a dominant form for all types of urban habitats or spatial typologies. Existing urban morphological studies of China have yet to provide a clear perspective of the mega-scale project under the background of rapid urbanization. In this paper, the focus is on mega-development at the urban block scale, which can be termed the ‘Chinese Megablock Urbanism’ (CMU) phenomenon. In this light, we question if the CMU has become the new tool to sustain rapid urbanization? Moreover, how can the study of megablocks contribute to the understanding of Chinese morphology and its spatial conditions? The cases shown will act as comparative analysis, discussing the specificities of configurations, spatial distributions and FAR conditions to outline the complexities of the ‘mega’ form. It will conclude on the possible revisions of morphological parameters, and fully comprehend this new tool to assess Chinese urban form within a sustainable paradigm.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationISUF 2020 Virtual Conference Proceedings
EditorsBrenda Case Scheer, Wendy McClure
PublisherUniversity of Utah College of Architecture + Planning, University of Utah Salt Lake City
VolumeVolume 1 Part 4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021
EventISUF 2020 Virtual Conference Proceedings - University of Utah College of Architecture + Planning, Salt Lake City, United States
Duration: 1 Sep 20204 Sep 2020


ConferenceISUF 2020 Virtual Conference Proceedings
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySalt Lake City
Internet address


  • Chinese Megablock
  • rapid urbanisation
  • block morphology

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