Book launch China’s Urban Revolution: understanding Chinese eco-cities

Saturday 18 November, 14:0014:30, Kulturhuset Stadsteatern, StockholmBattle of Ideas Europe


In association with:

This debate is part of Battle of Ideas Stockholm

By 2025, China will have built fifteen new ‘supercities’ each with 25 million inhabitants. When author Austin Williams started researching China’s Urban Revolution: understanding Chinese eco-cities in 2012, China laid claim to 11 Eco-cities… environmentally-friendly, sustainable, smart, low-carbon, urban centres. It now boasts 285. From the edge of an impending eco-catastrophe, we are arguably witnessing history’s greatest environmental turnaround – an urban experiment that may provide valuable lessons for cities worldwide.

It is tempting to say that this is a bluff, but how can you challenge these statistics when they are self-defined? In the West, Eco-cities are supposed to save the world; in China they are simply meant to provide a decent quality of urban environment. Whether or not we choose to believe the hype – there is little doubt that this is an experiment that needs unpicking, understanding, and learning from. After all, China is set to dominate the environmental debate. In just 35 years, it has transformed itself from an environmental pariah to a country that freely criticises the US president’s rejection of the Paris climate accords.

This book explores the social, political, historical and cultural context for China’s environmental rise and rise. Williams, The Architectural Review‘s China correspondent, explores the progress and perils of China’s vast eco-city program, describing the complexities which emerge in the race to balance the environment with industrialisation, quality with quantity, and the liberty of the individual with the authority of the Chinese state.

Williams will give a short illustrated presentation to be followed by a book signing .