Urbaniser la campagne: la Chine, entre croissance massive et réalité du territoire

The primary goal of this research is to undertake an analytical study addressing the urbanisation of rural areas as a major territorial, environmental and cultural challenge. The new relations that have developed between urban and rural areas clearly signal that today we need to see the rural world as a research subject in its own right, rather than simply viewing it as the counterpart of the urban. Our study focuses specifically on the urbanisation of China’s rural areas: a highly significant example in terms of both scale and contemporary relevance. Even though it was back in 2005 that the programme of “building a new socialist countryside” in the 11th Five Year Plan placed the future of the rural sphere at the heart of China’s economic, political and social challenges, it is now, ten years on, that we can examine this project’s spatial and territorial implications. We consider the urbanisation of China’s rural areas as a spatial manifestation of a necessary process of modernisation and evolution. In this context, understanding the dramatic changes that have taken place and the conflicts they have engendered requires setting them in their wider historical, economic and cultural contexts. We demonstrate that the urbanisation of China’s rural areas is the combined outcome of real-estate speculation, national regulations and local initiatives that can only be understood through a territorial diagnosis. Our approach involves undertaking a theoretical consideration of real-life conditions as an empirical basis for evaluating the process of territorial transformation. The aim here is to assess the effective territorial impact of the conflicting dynamics at work – master plans on the one hand (ex-nihilo) ; simultaneous endogenous (in-situ) development on the other. We apply this prospective analytical approach to a corpus of three case studies: Chengyang District (Shandong) and the cities of Dengfeng (Henan) and Dujiangyan (Sichuan) and their surrounding areas. It is these regions’ largely unremarkable geographic, economic and cultural profiles that qualify them representatives of a nationwide phenomenon. We undertake a territorial diagnosis guided by the identification and analysis of nested samples at a range of geographic and temporal scales. The significant wastage this diagnosis reveals suggests that this process is likely to be irreversible, entailing an irrevocable loss of China’s rural dimension. We conclude that the major challenge in developing China’s rural areas has two key components: the planning of the invasive new cities on the one hand; and the planning deficit for rural areas on the other – whether this pertains to their development or to their preservation. On the basis of this territorial diagnosis we then construct three scenarios for the future, looking ahead to 2050. The negative externalities of the first two scenarios lay bare the future impacts of present-day mechanisms if they continue on their current path, degrading the specific constituent elements of rural territories and the societies that inhabit them. Working to the same time scheme, the third scenario sketches out solutions, based on an inclusive approach to territorial development. This scenario proposes a system based on chains of interests that draws together all the territory’s various components, exploring the potential for a new rural-centric territorial planning paradigm.

    Keywords: China ; rural ; territorial diagnosis ; urban development ; rural planning

    Thèse École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne EPFL, n° 7446 (2017)
    Programme doctoral Architecture et sciences de la ville
    Faculté de l'environnement naturel, architectural et construit
    Institut d'architecture et de la ville
    Laboratoire d'architecture et mobilité urbaine
    Jury: Dr Florence Graezer Bideau (présidente) ; professeure Inès Lamunière, Prof. Jean-Claude Bolay (directeurs) ; Dr Elena Cogato Lanza, Dr Suren Erkman, Dr Jian Zhuo (rapporteurs)

    Public defense: 2017-3-3


    Record created on 2017-02-20, modified on 2017-03-06


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