Mapping Wuhan: Morphological atlas of the Urbanization of a Chinese City


Henco Bekkering, Delft University of Technology; Jiaxiu CAI, Harbin Institute of Technology (Shenzhen); Joran Kuijper, Delft University of Technology; Ke ZHANG, Wuhan Land Use and Urban Spatial Planning Research Center/wlsp; Wei CHEN, Wuhan Planning and Design Institute
Keywords: China, Delft School, history, mapping, morphology, Wuhan


Chinese cities have been expanding since the early 1980s under trends of rapid modernization, urbanization and globalization. Since then they have changed dramatically, and have in the process lost many of their traditional environments and spatial characteristics.

Urban planners and designers have been and are facing unprecedented challenges in China. They not only have to learn to understand the constantly emerging new urban mechanisms, and seek balance among stakeholders, but they also need to cope with the political pressures and the changing context under often extreme time pressure. In such circumstances, future- and design-oriented analysis based on a designerly way of thinking is useful–if not indispensable–for understanding the existing city and deciding on its transformations in a responsible and accountable way that is communicable among designers and with the public. This is especially so, in light of the growing awareness–also in China–of the value and importance of local urban identity, that is always–at least partially–based on history. In this atlas the Delft method of historical morphological analysis is applied to the city of Wuhan, valuing the importance of and finding meaning in the local urban identity of a city with a population over 11 million with a floating population of 14 million. The series of maps show the urban development, covering a century and a half.

Author Biographies

Henco Bekkering, Delft University of Technology

Henco Bekkering (1948) is Emeritus Professor of Urban Design, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands (1995—2013). In 2009 he was Netherlands Visiting Professor at Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Michigan, usa. In 2010 he was Advanced Visiting Scholar in the School of Architecture, Tsinghua University, China. He combined his academic work with an office for urban design and planning: hkb Stedenbouwkundigen/Urbanists. His focus is on morphological research and (neo-)traditional urban design.

Jiaxiu CAI, Harbin Institute of Technology (Shenzhen)

Dr. CAI Jiaxiu (1985) is Assistant Professor of Urban Design at the Harbin Institute of Technology (Shenzhen), P.R. China. Her interests span across the disciplines of architecture, urban design, landscape architecture, and urban studies, focusing on design theories, methods and practice. She holds a BSc and MSc degree in Architecture from Huazhong University of Science and Technology (2008 and 2012) and a PhD in Urban Design from Delft University of Technology (2018). She has also worked at international renowned design offices, such as kcap, the Netherlands, and ThomsonAdssett, Australia.

Joran Kuijper, Delft University of Technology

Joran Kuijper (1987) graduated in 2014 at the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, Delft University of Technology. Currently he is involved in Delft as a lecturer and researcher in the group of Architectural Design Crossovers. Within the academic environment he has been member of several editorial teams, as for example in 2012 for the international conference ‘New Urban Configurations’. He is a tutor in Bachelor and Master architectural design studios and is preparing his PhD research Learning from Disneyland: Urban Architecture in Disney’s Theme Parks.

Ke ZHANG, Wuhan Land Use and Urban Spatial Planning Research Center/wlsp

ZHANG Ke (1984) is senior urban planner and major project manager in the Wuhan Land Use and Urban Spatial Planning Research Center/wlsp. She has more than fifteen years working experience in the spatial planning and urban design of megacities. Her main research interests are urban morphology, urban governance and monitoring of megacities. She has also worked as the principal or co-investigator for a number of national and international research projects. Over 20 of them have won international, national, provincial, and municipal awards.

Wei CHEN, Wuhan Planning and Design Institute

Chen Wei (1963) is President of Wuhan Planning and Design Institute, former Director of Wuhan Land Use and Urban Spatial Planning Research Center, Professor-level senior engineer, registered planner, adjunct professor of Wuhan University and Huazhong University of Science and Technology, special allowance expert of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China. His research interest is urban and rural planning, land and space planning, natural resources protection and utilization. He has completed more than ten major national and ministerial scientific research projects, and published more than ten books including Foresight: 40 years of Wuhan planning.


November 1, 2021


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Physical Dimensions

205mm x 255mm