Programme: Landscape Architecture - MPhil/PhD

Start date: 01/09/2018

Mode of study: Full time

Research title: 'Wild' Urban Landscapes and Ecological Aesthetics in the Chinese Urban Context: Exploring Public Perceptions of, and Preferences for “Wild” Parks, and the Effect of Biodiversity Value on Park Preferences (provisional)

Xinlei Hu is currently undertaking her PhD in Landscape Architecture at ESALA. Her doctoral research centres on public perceptions of, and preferences for wild-looking parks and biodiversity value in cities, aiming to understand the complex relationships between people and biodiversity in urbanised China, particularly the ecological literacy and aesthetics.

Prior to Xinlei's PhD, she obtained the degree of Master of Engineering in Landscape Architecture from Southeast University (SEU), Nanjing, China in 2018. Xinlei has researched and worked on various landscape planning and design projects in AECOM Ltd. and Architects & Engineers Co., Ltd of Southeast University. From 2017 to 2018, Xinlei engaged in Jiangsu Province Sponge City research Guide to the Application of Green Sponge Technology for Urban Roads in Jiangsu Province, published by Southeast University Press. In 2015, she worked for the planning of preservation and revival of 'Xiao Xi Hu Historic Site' Qinhuai District in Nanjing, a research project of Nanjing Urban Planning Bureau. In 2013, Xinlei received the Government Scholarship of Overseas Study for college students in Jiangsu province and participated in St. Louis University Program in Global Health and Geospatial Methods in Environmental Studies.

  • Essay assessment tutor for History of Landscape Architecture (2019-2020, Semester 1), University of Edinburgh
  • Essay assessment tutor for Landscape Architecture Theory 1A (2019-2020, Semester 1), University of Edinburgh

As a response to biodiversity loss in cities, park designs have incorporated wild messy parts of urban ecosystems and natural ecological succession, creating wild-looking ecological landscapes in cities. In China, some 'wild' parks have been implemented in recent years. Although biodiverse and ecologically rich, these park landscapes often look messy and unscenic, showing contrasts to the manicured and ornamental traditional Chinese parks and gardens. It has been suggested that the advocation of 'wild' parks challenged scenic aesthetics and represented ecological aesthetics - the beauty of landscape is often intimately associated with its biodiversity/ecological value.

Given this trend, the question remains whether Chinese residents appreciate urban 'wild' parks in contrast to traditional parks, how they perceive the biodiversity and ecological functions of 'wild' parks, and how they understand the importance of biodiversity values to park landscapes. This research aims to understand these questions by using a mixed methods approach consisting of focus groups, conjoint analysis, and semi-structured interviews. This research will help to develop a better understanding of the complex relationships between people and biodiversity in urbanised China, particularly the ecological literacy and aesthetics. It will also develop recommendations for landscape designers to create ecological biodiverse parks and green spaces with public satisfaction.


Publication and presentation:

Hu, X. & Lima, M. F. (2019) 'Ecological value of abandoned wild landscapes in Chinese cities', in Mambretti, S. and Garcia, J. L. M. i (eds) The Sustainable City XIII Volume 238 of WIT Transactions on Ecology and the Environment. Southampton: WIT Press, 2019, pp. 331–342. (Publication)

Hu, X. & Lima, M. F. (2019) 'Ecological value of abandoned wild landscapes in Chinese cities', 13th International Conference on Urban Regeneration and Sustainability. Sustainable City 2019. Valencia, Spain, 2 October, 2019. (Presentation)

Hu, X. (2019) 'Abandoned Wild Landscapes: The Importance of Biodiversity on Public Perceptions', ESALA First Year Conference 2018-2019. University of Edinburgh, UK, 30 August, 2019. (Presentation)

Hu, X. (2019) 'Appreciating abandonment: The value of derelict industrial wildscapes to urban dwellers in China', PhD Seminar Landscape Architecture. University of Edinburgh, UK, 19 Febuary, 2019. (Presentation)

Hu, X. (2018) 'Values for Enhancing the Appreciation of Vacant Land in Depopulated Urban Environments', Postgraduate Research Methods Conference. University of Edinburgh, UK, 17 December, 2018. (Presentation)