Strategies for Sustainable Urban Renewal: Community-Scale GIS-Based Analysis for Densification Decision Making
1.1. The New Urbanization “Beyond Mere Growth” in China
1.2. The Solution of High Density for Growing Cities and Sustainability
- The high value of the land combined with the increased demand for housing is a potential profit for the developer if what exists is demolished and rebuilt at a higher density.
- The available buildable land is either scarce due to geographical conditions or limited by the local regulations for protecting agricultural land.
1.3. The Case Study: Suzhou’s Shift in City Planning and Manufacturing
1.4. Sustainability Versus Growth: A Potential Contradiction in the Development Goals
1.5. The Structure of the Paper
2. Growing Population, Land Consumption, and Densification
2.1. Density Parameter
2.2. Densification in High-Density Cities in China: The Direction already Taken
3. Data Acquisition and Research Method
- They are spread all over the municipality and occupy already urbanized land;
- They house a large population, but some of them are low density;
- They offer different conditions in relation to accessibility;
- They are becoming obsolete in absolute terms and in relation to the growing income of households.
3.1. GIS Spatial Analysis: Location, FAR, Accessibility, and Housing Conditions
3.2. Empirical Observation and Field Study: The Obsolescence of the Existing Resettlement Communities
- Li He Village, started in 1994 in Gusu District;
- Nanhuan Community, started in 1996 in Gusu District;
- Dengyun Community, started in 2000 in Xiangcheng District;
- Lotus Village, started in 2002 in Suzhou Industrial Park;
- Bibo Community, started in 2001 in Wuzhong District;
- Mabang Community, started in 2002 in Suzhou New District.
- Standards in building characteristics: housing type (multi-story with central staircase and 2 apartments on every floor), number of floors (4–6), depth of buildings (8–12 m with verandas);
- Standards in the spatial layout: orientation and alignment (east–west), distances between buildings (the minimum provision is that the sunshine must enter the ground floor for at least 2 h every day according to the regulation), functions (mono-functional: residential with some public facilities for gathering), and dimensions and features of the common open space;
- Standards in construction quality in compliance with local regulations .
- Buildings often have problems with poor construction quality and outdated equipment and appliances. When the building is more than 15 years old, which is often the case in Suzhou resettlement communities, sewage, pipelines, heating and cooling systems, waste management, water and electricity, and waterproof and acoustic equipment should be updated. Regarding the quality of building structures, the Unified Standard for Reliability Design of Building Structures (GB50068-2001) in 2001 first proposed the concept of design service life: it defined the design service life of building structures and structural components as 30 years; in recent years, this service life has increased to 50–70 years .
- Residential units and public spaces have problems connected to the low standards of their construction period. This includes a lack of elevators, insufficient parking spaces, units often too small to accommodate a comfortable kitchen with a dishwasher and two bathrooms with washing machines . Therefore, the local government is taking measures to address these issues. For example, in October 2018, the local government launched the “Suggestions on Installing Elevators in Existing Multi-story Residential Buildings in Suzhou” to adapt to economic and social development, improve the functionality of existing housing, and improve living standards .
- The value range of FAR is relatively low, indicating that these communities have a small population density and belong to low-density communities. This situation is not due to the age of construction, but rather to the project conditions and the number of people that need to be accommodated .
- The construction method usually adopted a “copy-paste” method to provide similar living conditions while reducing costs and accelerating speed. However, in the future, with the development of China’s economy and the improvement of people’s living standards, these demolished and rebuilt communities may be considered low-level housing environments. Therefore, there is a need to reassess these communities and explore their sustainable development potential, including investigating possible personalized schemes to provide housing for more and different types of residents and promote community diversity and sustainable development.
4. Research Results: The Resettlement Communities as an Opportunity for Renewal
4.1. GIS Spatial Analysis Results
4.2. Statistical Analysis of Six Communities and Nanhuan Community
5. Discussion: A Strategy for Renewal and Densification
5.1. Densification according to FAR and Accessibility
- Do not efficiently use the land they occupy because the FAR is much lower than the average of the communities: the ones where FAR is lower or equal to 1 (8 cases) should be the first to be renewed; the ones with FAR lower or equal to 1.2 (18 cases) should be considered as the second group. In total, the communities with FAR lower or equal to 1.2 now accommodate almost 128,000 people in 40,423 units;
- Were built before 2000 (12 cases), as proposed by the national guidelines, which today in the cases in Suzhou accommodate almost 78,000 people in 25,956 units;
- Next to metro stations or transport interchanges (within 400 m from one of the community gates) and have a FAR lower or equal to 2 to fully exploit the transport capacity and accessibility of the site. Specific projects should define the most proper threshold of FAR according to the local conditions and the transport capacity.
- It grants financing for rental payments depending on the number of family members;
- It compensates N times (n > 1.2) the value of the former residential area;
- The resettlement solution is either in the same place as the original community or not far from it;
- The indoor decoration of what is lost is compensated in cash .
5.2. Densification according to Housing Conditions
5.3. A Radical Scenario of Densification
- Enhance the open spaces in quantity and quality: given the small and scattered green-blue spaces in the existing communities and the surrounding areas, the action of densification should re-design these resources, so that they can also play a role in fulfilling the needs of the interaction of the community. The plan will consider the contribution of the open spaces to the thermal and light comfort and to mitigate the heat island effect;
- Realize an integrated transportation system, integrating public transport, pedestrian and cycling lanes, and car parking places connected to the pedestrian and bike network; limit the extension of the road network; and improve the accessibility to the compounds with a more permeable system of gates;
- Diversify the units to match the needs and preferences of the different households and new lifestyles; diversify the housing types: higher density housing does not always require high-rise developments;
- Mix land use to create an attractive street life;
- Obviously, in addition to these specific improvements, the capacity of infrastructures, utilities, and public services will be increased according to the quantity of residents and users.
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|District||2021 (Million)||Area (km2)||Pop Density|
|Suzhou New District||0.832||332.37||2503.2|
|Suzhou Industrial Park||1.1339||278.19||4076.0|
|Village Name||Site Area||Total Building Area (Before)||Total Building Area (After)||FAR (Before)||FAR (After)|
|Dachong village||36.40 ha||160.52 ha||280.00 ha||4.41||7.70|
|Jianyeli Shikumen||1.79 ha||2.33 ha||4.77 ha||1.30||2.51|
|Tuanjie Village||2.80 ha||4.43 ha||14.11 ha||1.58||5.04|
|Basic information||Data acquisition source is Gaode, Suzhou Map, Accessed from: https://1bs.amap.com/ (accessed on 1 September 2020).||2020|
|POI, AOI data||Suzhou Anjuke Second-hand Housing Trading Website. Accessed from: https://su.fang.anjuke.com/ (accessed on 1 September 2020).||2020|
||F is the single-story building area, L is the number of floors of the building is the total building area, is the plot area|
|Community accessibility||CA = NQPDAn in sDNA +||NQPDAn is an indicator in sDNA that calculates global accessibility, reflecting the accessibility level of roads based on its numerical value. , Number of transportation stations within 300 m around the community. CA means community accessibility.|
|Housing conditions||the community house price; the number of households in the community; greening area of the community; area of the community; and HC means housing conditions.|
|Average of 6 Case Studies||Nanhuan New Village|
|Housing type||Multi-story||High rise|
|Number of floors||4–6||28–32|
|Construction cost||1200 RMB/sqm||2500 RMB/sqm|
|Car Parking||No structures nor areas for parking in the original master plan; parking was obtained in recent years in|
the green spaces.
0.8 car parking for every unit
|No heating or air conditioning||Heating or air Conditioning|
|No soundproof walls||Soundproof elements|
|No thermal insulation||Thermal insulation|
|Fragmented open space||Continuous open space|
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Chen, J.; Pellegrini, P.; Yang, Z.; Wang, H. Strategies for Sustainable Urban Renewal: Community-Scale GIS-Based Analysis for Densification Decision Making. Sustainability 2023, 15, 7901. https://doi.org/10.3390/su15107901
Chen J, Pellegrini P, Yang Z, Wang H. Strategies for Sustainable Urban Renewal: Community-Scale GIS-Based Analysis for Densification Decision Making. Sustainability. 2023; 15(10):7901. https://doi.org/10.3390/su15107901Chicago/Turabian Style
Chen, Jinliu, Paola Pellegrini, Zhuo Yang, and Haoqi Wang. 2023. "Strategies for Sustainable Urban Renewal: Community-Scale GIS-Based Analysis for Densification Decision Making" Sustainability 15, no. 10: 7901. https://doi.org/10.3390/su15107901