Current PhD students

A Street Corner Space in Old City-centred Neighbourhood, Guangzhou, Source: Visual China Group 2020Hao Deng

PhD Title: An Everyday Urbanism Approach to Urban Design of Cultural Quarters in China

Supervisors: Fei Chen, Francesca Piazzoni

Overview: This project explores the (re)production of urban spaces in cultural quarters through the perspective of Everyday Urbanism. The cultural quarters selected in this research are developed following a ‘Culture-led Urban Regeneration’ (CUR) approach in China. The research aims to understand the contest between planning strategies of the local authority or elites and the tactics of ordinary citizens in the urban spaces. It pays particular attention to street corners as this type of space has converging flows of people and diverse ‘everyday culture’. The research intends to make a contribution to the design and planning of cultural quarters to support people’s daily lives and place-making.

Image: A Street Corner Space in Old City-centred Neighbourhood, Guangzhou, Source: Visual China Group 2020

Khalid Bazughayfan

PhD Title: Design for environmental sustainability: comparative study of two design governance mechanisms in Saudi Arabia

Supervisors: Fei Chen, David Chow

Overview: This project explores the planning systems in Saudi Arabia and the management of design issues that are related to environmental sustainability in these systems. Two design governance mechanisms can be identified in Saudi Arabia. One is the private-led Economic City Authorities which control the King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), and the other is led by the crown and the government. The former is particularly effective in promoting environmental sustainability. The project aims to understand the similarities and differences between the two systems with regards to regulations, strategies and approaches of urban design and planning. Key obstacles, challenges, strengths and weaknesses of the systems will be identified. Lessons will be drawn from each system to improve them in the future. The outcome of the project will enable more effective design management for sustainability in Saudi cities and communities.  

An ariel view of Zhuokeji VillageXin Ran

PhD Title: Public Space in Piecemeal Developed Villages in Southwest China

Supervisors: Fei Chen, Christina Malathouni

Overview: This research focuses on the public space in traditional villages in such region and explores both the built environment and the socio-cultural production of public space, in particular, village gathering spaces--plaza or square and streets. This includes an investigation into the form and evolution of such settlements, and a detailed analysis of interrelationship between public spaces and local traditions, activities, migration and other economic and social factors.

Aerial view of George Town World Heritage Site, Malaysia. Source: Derrick Lim/ Shutterstock.comAufa Abd Rahman

PhD Title: Design Governance in Heritage-led Urban Regeneration : the case of George Town World Heritage Site, Malaysia

Supervisors: Fei Chen, Junjie Xi

Overview: Cities are increasingly embracing culture as a catalyst for urban development. This culminates in heritage-led urban regeneration of historic urban areas. To ensure that cities remain resilient while retaining their cultural identities, urban regeneration must be planned with a clear understanding of design issues and stakeholder relationship in the process. The case of George Town offers a unique context that represents this process of the involvement of stakeholders with varying cultural values and visions in the preparation of conservation and management plans. These local and international entities collaborate on multiple design and conservation activities within the city's informal decision-making environment and the formal planning system. The purpose of the study is to investigate how stakeholders address design challenges through various types of conservation plans and other planning instruments to facilitate George Town's urban regeneration following its 2008 inscription. This study will advance our understanding of design governance in historic cities within the Malaysian planning structure and systematically enhance design quality in order to achieve sustainable development.

Min Wang

PhD Title: The evolving role of heritage conservation in the urban regeneration process in China

Supervisors: Oliver Sykes (Geography and Planning); Fei Chen; Gareth Abrahams (Geography and Planning)

Overview: The perservation of cultural heritage in urban central areas is a great challenge in Chinese cities due to the large scale urban redevelopment since the 1980s. This thesis will address the balance and tension between heritage conservation, urban regeneration and city development. It aims to understand the value of heritage conservation in area-based regeneration schemes and to search for strategies to promote heritage values through urban regeneration.