Peripheral Cluster versus New Town: A Comparative Study on Two Types of Peripheral Developments in the Beijing Metropolitan Region


  • Jing Zhou
  • Lei Qu



Spatial decentralisation has been a planning goal for Beijing city since 1950s. It had not been fully activated until the mid-1990s, when the suburbanisation process started to accelerate rapidly. Under the influence of joint forces of top-down intervention and market-driven development, several large-scale peripheral clusters and new towns have been built in both near and far suburbs. However, the spatial structure of the city remains to be rather mono-centric, which causes severe urban and environmental problems. In the latest Beijing Master Plan, the metropolitan region is considered as a whole. A polycentric spatial structure is proposed with the aim to consolidate the existing regional centralities as stronger counter-weights to central city.

The aim of this paper is to investigate the spatial social and economic conditions of the existing large-scale peripheral clusters and new towns, to understand their strengths and weaknesses, in order to give concrete spatial recommendations for future transformation of Beijing metropolitan region. The paper is organized as follows. The first part presents a review of morphological transformation process of Beijing metropolis since 1950s till now. Then in-depth analysis and comparative study will be given to two representative cases of – Tiantongyuan and Tonzhou – peripheral residential district and satellite town. Finally useful lessons and spatial recommendations for realizing poly-nuclear regional structure will be elaborated.

Author Biographies

Jing Zhou

Jing Zhou received bachelor education in architecture and urban planning in Tianjin University in China. In 2004 she came to the Netherlands to pursuit master degree in urbanism from Delft University of Technology. After graduating as Cum Laude, she continues with Ph.D. research in Delft on the subject of comparative study of Chinese and Western new towns. She is also a researcher for International New Town Institute (INTI) in Almere.

Lei Qu

Lei Qu studied architectural design for her bachelor education. During the postgraduate period, she was studying urban planning and design, specialized in housing and urban transformation. She received her Doctorate degree from Tsinghua University in China in 2004. Currently she works as scientific researcher at the Chair of Spatial Planning and Strategy, Department of Urbanism, Delft University of Technology.