The collective realms in the Chinese city: Towards an alternative framework for public space

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Abstract

A western discourse of public space, originating in ancient Greece and Rome, has been widely used in architectural and urban research in China and is constantly contested in this geographical and cultural context. The contestation often stems from the cultural differences in understanding and operating the collective realms in Chinese and western cities, which is manifested through the distinctive features of their public spaces. This essay frames an alternative perspective on public space in the Chinese context by exploring the cultural, social, and spatial constructions of collective realms in the Chinese city. Starting from the conceptual origin of the ‘public’ in Chinese philosophy, this paper elaborates on three culturally grounded ideas related to collective patterns of space creation and practice – the relational circle, the realm of strangers, and the marketplace – and examines how these ideas are articulated by architectural and urban archetypes and in urban developments in Chinese cities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
JournalArena Journal of Architectural Research
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Keywords

  • Chinese city
  • collective realms
  • realm of strangers
  • relational circle
  • marketplace
  • public space

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