The trip was a key part of a cross-disciplinary module on environmental sustainability and students were given a brief introduction to the city’s key planning strategies and overall development framework by Xiaohua Chen, Deputy Director of the New City’s urban planning bureau, and colleagues.
A Q&A session encouraged students to raise questions relating to environmental planning, assessment and the collaborative decision-making processes. Mr Chen responded to students’ questions and indicated that achieving environmental sustainability in urban planning and design is always a dynamic balance between “what is theoretically possible and what is practically most desirable”.
Students also went on a tour of the Wujiang Tai Lake Eco-park, the Green Land Exhibition Centre, and other ongoing and completed projects in the region. Led by Dr Bing Chen from Urban Planning and Design and Dr Yixin Zhang from Environmental Science, students were able to better understand certain details of the development of the area.
“In line with XJTLU’s student-oriented, research-led learning principles of mixing teaching and learning methods, including lectures, tutorials, and fieldwork, field trips such as this increase students’ overall knowledge and competence, thereby nurturing inquiry-based learning and an integrated perspective,” said Dr Bing Chen.
A student on the field trip added that it was important to see how sustainable planning concepts could be implemented in practice through short- and long-term action plans.
Located within Suzhou’s Wujiang district, Taihu New City is a core part of Suzhou’s urban plan. Home to more than 200,000 residents the area has two districts and a tourism resort.
The relationship between Wujiang Taihu and XJTLU is long-standing with the University’s Research Institute of Urbanisation involved in a number of projects with funding support from Wujiang government, including the creation of the XJTLU-Wujiang Taihu Research Institute.
Based on an agreement signed by representatives from XJTLU and the Wujiang Taihu New City Administrative Committee last year, it is expected that there will be more interdisciplinary learning opportunities like this for XJTLU students.
(Photos: Peichu Zhaxi, Dr Joon Kim)