How to Integrate Universities and Cities Through Local Spatial Developments: Case Study of Wuhan, China

How to Integrate Universities and Cities Through Local Spatial Developments: Case Study of Wuhan, China

Wenjing Luo (Wuhan Planning and Design Institute, Hubei, China), Haijun Li (Wuhan Planning and Design Institute, Hubei, China) and Han Zou (Hubei University of Technology, Hubei, China)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/IJEPR.2020010104

Abstract

As irreplaceable knowledge infrastructures, universities have been acknowledged to play the roles of fostering knowledge workers, supporting knowledge economies, and building knowledge cities. Through spatial developments, localized interactions can be built between cities and universities. There has been a global trend to design new knowledge precincts revolving around universities to make knowledge cities. This article focuses on how the local governments in Wuhan, known as the “Forest of Campus” in China, have proposed the vision of making a “Univercity,” building knowledge cities by integrating universities and cities through local spatial developments. To interpret the concept of the knowledge precinct namely “Univercity,” an analytical framework has been set up in the dimensions of fostering knowledge workers, supporting knowledge economies and building knowledge cities. Then, the spatial strategies of making a “Univercity” have been given accordingly, including enhancing the interaction between universities, knowledge businesses, and knowledge cities.
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Introduction

Along with the global prevalence of knowledge-based urban policies, universities, with their ability to provide a strong platform for knowledge marketing and transfer, have been regarded as one of the key knowledge infrastructures (Carrillo 2004; Martinez-Fernandez, 2008; Yigitcanlar et al., 2008b; Yigtcanlar & Sarimin, 2011). Recognized as an urban amenity, a promoter of population dynamics, a driver of economic development and an active actor for governance and social improvement, universities, with their “third mission” addressing questions arising from the spatial and socio-economic settings within which they function, can contribute to fostering knowledge workers, supporting knowledge economies and building knowledge cities (Esquinas & Pinto, 2013; Yigtcanlar & Sarimin, 2011). With not only mutual benefits but also negative externalities, the spatial relations between universities and cities can be very diverse and complex, depending on the university locations, the character of their expansion and the nature of their host cities (Benneworth & Madanipour, 2010).

However, city-university interaction, though involving more than spatial dimensions, can be strengthened through spatial developments in the modes like high-technology engagement, standalone campus, regional engagement, multiple interfaces, and collaborative growth management (Benneworth & Madanipour, 2010). In the past few years, there has been a global trend to design new knowledge precincts at local scales centered around universities in their visions, strategies and action plans for making knowledge cities. Although a huge amount of literature has been written about the spatial relations between universities and cities at national and regional scales, studies focused on planning practices for building knowledge cities at an urban scale can be considered relatively scarce (Esquinas & Pinto, 2013).

The aim of this paper is to investigate how to integrate universities and cities through local spatial developments in the contexts of China. The Chinese knowledge city experience, unlike those in many developed countries, can best represent the characters of top-down planning and policy making. Wuhan, a metropolis with a high concentration of universities, known as the “Forest of Campus” in Central China, has been chosen as the subject of this case study to understand and analyze its transformation into a knowledge city by integrating itself with universities through local spatial development strategies to. As the relationship between universities and their host cities has been shaped by a complex set of institutional factors, like the interaction between the management of the university and an array of external pressures and norms(Perry,2011), local spatial development strategies in Wuhan may not be all applicable to different ecosystems but it can be transferable and can provide references for other cities which aim to use universities as key leverage to support their knowledge-based developments in the formation of vision, strategies and action plans.

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