Research

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Chandigarh Urban Lab

CUL a multi-year project that studies Chandigarh, historically and today, as a case study in contemporary mid-sized urbanization in India. Conducted in collaboration with the faculty and students of Chandigarh College of Architecture, the Lab actively engages local academics, architects, landscape architects, urbanists, planners, activists and the local administration in its work.

City (Un)silenced: Urban Movements and Public Space in the Age of Shrinking Democracy

Hou, Jeffrey, and Sabine Knierbein, (eds.) (in progress) This book project attempts to better understand the multiple facets in the recent wave of urban protest movements around the world, and more specifically the agency of public space for bolstering participatory and inclusive democracy against the forces of commodification, neoliberalization, and corporate political control that characterize an age of shrinking democracy around the world including East Asia.

A comparative approach to understanding community resiliency as balancing and inter-dependant services among differing types of capital

Co-PI with Bob Freitag and Manish Chalana. Funded by FEMA. 2013-2014. Partial results to be published as “Whole Community Resilience: An Asset-Based Approach to Enhancing Adaptive Capacity before a Disruption,” for special issue of Journal of the American Planning Association on “Building Back Better,” co-authored with Bob Freitag, Manish Chalana and Maximilian Dixon. In final round of revision.

Community-based Planning in the Kumaon Himalayas

This work focuses on the intersection of rural planning, sustainable development and ecotourism in the Indian Himalayas. Using a framework of community-based planning, and data from fieldwork, including site reconnaissance and open interviews with community members and establishments, this work advocates community planning for the region based on principles of sustainability and equity. The study site is a remote, and high mountainous valley in the upper Himalayas portions of which are in the buffer zone of a World Heritage Site and Indian border control region with Tibet.

Creating Resilient Socio-Ecosystems Amid Rapid Urbanization

Comparative action research on community planning and development with indigenous mountain communities and plains farmers in Sichuan and Fujian Provinces, China. Includes the “China-US Professional Workshops on Regional Sustainable Development,” Seattle, 2009 and 2012; the China Village Studios, 2011 and 2013, and the UW Built Environments Lab on “Resilience in the Built Environment: An Interdisciplinary Field Studio for Earthquake Recovery in Sichuan, China.” With Stevan Harrell and multiple other faculty and partners at UW, King County, the Sustainable Development Training Institute, the Living Future Institute, private firms and Puget Sound area local governments, Sichuan University, and beyond. 2009-current.

History, theory and Practice of Historic Preservation in India

India is a very old civilization with a rich cultural heritage. The formal practice of historic preservation, however, is a relatively recent phenomenon. In the recent decades, the field has made significant theoretical and methodological advances and opened its doors to involvement of private sector and non-governmental organizations. India’s rapid urbanization fueled in part by globalization and facilitated by a massive national urban renewal program threatens the bulk of the built heritage that remains unprotected. Several other challenges confront the field today including the rise in communalism and Hindu nationalism and climate change. This project proposes to document the history, theory and practice of historic preservation in India.

Magnitude 9 Earthquake Scenarios – Probabilistic Modeling, Warnings, Response and Resilience in the Pacific Northwest

Co-PI with John Vidale (PI), Jeff Berman, Ann Bostrom, and Alison Duvall. Funded by NSF Hazards SEES program. 2013-2017.

Messy Urbanism: Understanding the ‘Other’ Cities of Asia

Chalana, Manish, and Jeffrey Hou, (eds.) (Under contract, Equal editorship) Dense, vibrant, hybrid, and dynamic are words often used to characterize the aura and ambience of cities in Asia. Seemingly messy and chaotic, the landscapes and urban life of these cities exude a peculiar order that escapes the predominant theorization of cities and urbanism in the past century. With a cross-•‐disciplinary group of authors in architecture, landscape architecture, urban design and planning, this book project examines the production of dynamic urban fabric in Asia, including the specific spatial and cultural practices that underlie the making of those cities.

Multimodal Green Transportation-Oriented Urban Spatial Development

Qing Shen, Participating Researcher, with Haixiao Pan of Tongji University as PI. Funded by the Natural Science Foundation of China.

Rapid motorization is a major cause of the severe problem of air pollution in Chinese cities. This project explores alternative patterns of urban land use that can facilitate the development of a multimodal green transportation system and, consequently, reduce automobile dependency. The basic premise is that diverse people are engaged in diverse urban activities that can be most effectively served by a mixture of transportation modes. Using geo-spatial data and statistical models, the research attempts to establish the linkages between urban spatial factors and people’s travel behaviors. The empirical findings can help guide future changes in urban land use and transportation provision in Chinese cities to encourage multimodal green transportation.

Sustainable Development – A Comparative Study of Government Incentives for Green Building in the U.S. and Taiwan

Understanding Transit-Oriented Development: An Integrated Planning Approach to Sustainable Urbanization
Qing Shen, Principal Investigator. Funded by Energy Foundation.

Transit oriented development (TOD) has been adopted by many cities in the world as a key concept of urban planning. This project aims to gain a better understanding of the effects of TOD in terms of land value creation and travel behavior change, drawing from cases in the United States, Hong Kong, and mainland China. A key research objective is to identify important factors that determine the performance of TOD. This knowledge is essential for assessing TOD as an approach to sustainable urbanization in China, where the institutional environment for land acquisition, development, and taxation—major factors affecting TOD performance—is still evolving.

Urban Informality and Resettlement in the Indian Megacities

This project attempts to understand the patterns of urban informality in New Delhi through two distinct settlements, a central city slum and a resettlement neighborhood in the outskirts of the city. The work so far has focused on these two neighborhoods in terms of: 1) origin and development; 2) spatial and community networks; 3) urban amenities and infrastructure; 4) resettlement plans, policies and politics; and 5) roles of public and private organizations. Relying primarily on ethnography, this work puts into perspective how Delhi has been addressing urban informality and resettlement since independence in 1947.

 

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