From BusinessInsider, overhead photos of what they say are large, new developments in China that lay empty. If they are satellite photos, though, don’t know when they were taken. Some of them may have filled up by now. What I noticed was the bad urban design among them. Overly wide boulevards with extra large curb radii. The university campus strikes me as automobile oriented, even though a university campus is one of the last places you want to be automobile oriented.

CHENGGONG has two new universities. Both of them look empty

The spaces between buildings are quite large, roads wide, and there is no sense of enclosed outdoor space. All the buildings are smack dab in the middle of each block. The Central Green space is designed like many new CBDs in China (usually the government center at the end of a symmetrical green axis), too large to be perceived as a space by someone walking it.

The Zhengzhou New Districts Civic Center is almost hilariously auto-centric–built for speed in fact.

Like Ordos, Zhengzhou New District has glamorous public buildings

The circular off ramps to the center mean you won’t even have to slow your car down. Look how much space is wasted, though, for the ramps. This is all ‘paper architecture’. Paper architecture is when people design buildings on paper so that is makes a design that looks nice from above, from the plan. However there is no conception of how the space will be perceived at ground level and no definition of space. The buildings are meant to impress, not meant to accommodate. (The most egregious example is the Wuxi government building. It is absolutely huge and well detailed with expensive materials. You need a car to walk from one end of the 700 meter long building to the other. It is government away from the people, not for the people.)

Another photo essay by the same website: this time on the British inspired Thames Town near Shanghai that was completed quite a while ago. The urban design is actually quite a bit better than a lot of what passes for urban design here.

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