Measuring the urban forms of shanghai’s city center and its new districts: A neighborhood-level comparative analysis

Lin Lin*, Xueming Chen, Anne Vernez Moudon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rapid urban expansion has radically transformed the city centers and the new districts of Chinese cities. Both areas have undergone unique redevelopment and development over the past decades, generating unique urban forms worthy of study. To date, few studies have investigated development patterns and land use intensities at the neighborhood level. The present study aims to fill the gap and compare the densities of different types of developments and the spatial compositions of different commercial uses at the neighborhood level. We captured the attributes of their built environment that support instrumental activities of daily living of 710 neighborhoods centered on the public elementary schools of the entire Shanghai municipality using application programming interfaces provided in Baidu Map services. The 200 m neighborhood provided the best fit to capture the variations of the built environment. Overall, city center neighborhoods had significantly higher residential densities and housed more daily routine destinations than their counterparts in the new districts. Unexpectedly, however, the total length of streets was considerably smaller in city-center neighborhoods, likely reflecting the prominence of the wide multilane vehicular roads surrounding large center city redevelopment projects. The findings point to convergence between the city center’s urban forms and that of the new districts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8481
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


  • Built environment
  • Chinese cities
  • Neighborhood
  • Planning
  • Shanghai
  • Urban form


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