China’s on-going urbanization  is in many ways unlike any other in history and for the problems this brings there is an urgency to find  sustainable solutions. Our strategy when working in China is to build capacity within our team, our local partners, local planners, politicians and decision makers. In other words it is a two-way learning experience with a goal to empower everyone involved in the planning process, to ask the right questions and to secure resilient cities!

The last weeks have exemplified Gehl Architect’s strong engagement in the Chinese urbanization and our collaboration with China Sustainable Cities Program at The Energy Foundation in Beijing.

Energy Foundation in CopenhagenCHINA IN GEHL: The staff from the China Sustainable Cities Program at Energy Foundation were in Copenhagen for 5 days with Gehl Architects, working together, learning together, and seeing European best practice first hand with a critical and observant Chinese view. Getting an understanding of implemented solutions is key to transferring them in to the local context in China, intensely working together for 5 days is a great way to build strong relations or “guanxi” and create a culture of open communication.

Maria Wass-Danielsen, GEHL ARCHITECTS

GEHL IN CHINA: Every five years, the Chinese Academy of Governance (CAG) organizes an exceptional 10-day executive training for the top-level personal of the Chinese State and Party apparatus: including Ministers, Mayors, senior decision-makers from the Ministries and provinces. In recognition of the recent EU-China partnership on Sustainable Urbanization signed by  Vice- Premier LI Keqiang in May 2012, and in anticipation of the next meeting of Premier Wen with the EU Leaders, CAG has approached the European Commission to jointly prepare a half-day session on EU urban planning best practices. The EU delegation in China invited Gehl Architects to do a presentation on sustainable mobility at the seminar. Maria Wass-Danielsen from Gehl Architects recommended that Chinese decision makers need to create an inviting, convenient and inclusive environment for people to walk, bike and use public transport, making green mobility a realistic choice for everyone.

David Sim, Kristian Skovbakke Villadsen, GEHL ARCHITECTS

CHINA IN GEHL: David Sim, Director at Gehl Architects and Kristian Skovbakke Villadsen, Associate at Gehl Architects hosted a one day masterclass for 25 Chinese majors as part of a ten day training scheme at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Asking the right questions was the theme of the day and the weight of the responsibility amongst the mayors for building a sustainable future was very much felt in the room.

The dialogue between chinese cities, our collaborative partner, decision-makers and Gehl architects is as strong as ever as we learn from – and contribute to a deeper understanding of how it is possible to plan for people in this time of rapid growth and change.

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