Programme: Architecture - PhD/MPhil/MSc by Research

Start date: September 2015

Mode of study: Full time

Research title: Walkability in contemporary Chinese cities

Ziwen is currently undertaking a PhD research project in Architecture regarding Walkability/Walking, Space and the City, that relates to his master's dissertation at the University of Sheffield (awarded with Distinction). He is also teaching architectural design studio and creative practice dissertation at Edinburgh and Newcastle. Besides, he has been invited by Journal of Cities & Health as a peer reviewer.

Before the PhD research, Ziwen was working at China Academy of Urban Planning and Design, and undertook an architectural project of ‘Self-constructed Space Rashmon Gangxia’ at Retumu Urban-Rural Institute. During this period, he has received various prizes such as Best Analysis Award in Designing the Secret of Travel Modes, and Third Prize in Alternatives for Low Carbon Life Competition, 2015


Teaching Experience

  • Design tutor for ARCH07001 and reviewer for MArch MMP studio, ESALA, University of Edinburgh
  • Co-module organiser for APL2004 and Dissertation tutor for APL3003, APL, Newcastle University
  • Tutor for Architecture Summer School, Harbin Institute of Technology

Research abstract

In light of the multiple benefits of walking (e.g. public health, social indifference, air pollution, and misdirected investment), improving walkability is becoming increasingly significant among architects, urban designers and public health researchers. In contemporary Chinese cities, street vendors are a common feature of many neighbourhoods, frequently occupying specific space where many people regularly walk. As such, the pervasive phenomenon of street vending appears to have a close association with the walkability of public spaces. However, street vendors, as undesirable populations sometimes, have always been part of informal business practices and are generally self-organised, which directly confronts the hegemonic power of the Chinese government in many ways. Due to street vending being produced by multiple forces (e.g. bottom-up spatio-tactics) of various ordinary lives (e.g. livelihoods of weak populations and demands of nearby residents), a desire for social harmony at a state level impels local governments to seek alternatives that mitigate collective resistance. This research seeks to grasp additional knowledge to why walkability and how specific walkable spaces are produced/traced by street vendors in the Chinese context.

Research Interest

  • Walkable urbanism and public space
  • Everyday performance and affordance 
  • Socio-spatial practice and self-constructed space