Students and faculty at the University of Oregon had the unique opportunity to learn about China’s large-scale urban planning process on Friday, Nov. 22 through a lunchtime presentation by Xiaoqi Wang, the Director of the Department of Planning and Design at the Chengdu Institute of Planning and Design.
Wang has been studying at the UO since April as part of SCI China’s visiting scholar program, which enables scholars and planners from China to come to Oregon to conduct research on sustainable urban development.
On Friday, Wang explained the planning process for the redevelopment of Chengdu’s Northern Old Town. Chengdu, home to more than 14 million people, is one of Western China’s most important economic hubs.
The Northern Old Town redevelopment project is the largest in Chengdu's history. The project will reshape an enormous area of the city through new highways and rail systems, upgrades to factory plants, and new housing structures.
It was clear from the question and answer session following Wang’s presentation that students and faculty were amazed by the scale and pace of this project. While redevelopment in the U.S. typically occurs at the neighborhood or street level scale, the Northern Old Town project will have a direct impact on the homes of over 1.5 million people.
According to SCI China Program Director Prof. Yizhao Yang, this conversation about differences in culture and development philosophy is what makes the visiting scholar program so important. In addition to teaching the Oregon community about China’s planning process, Friday’s lecture gave Wang the opportunity to think about his work in Chengdu from a different perspective.
“SCI China is about mutual learning and understanding,” said Yang. “It’s about two countries coming together who will have a huge impact on the future direction of the world.”
For Wang, living in Oregon has been a great learning opportunity. Wang’s research at the UO has focused on the computer software GIS and the U.S. land use planning system.
“I’ve learned a lot so far and really like the ecological environment here in Oregon,” Wang said.
Check out more about Wang’s research and the SCI China program here.