Our PhD students

Our PhD students

Yang An

Email: Yang.An19@student.xjtlu.edu.cn

Prior to PhD study, Yang completed a master’s degree in Housing and City Planning at University College London (UCL) and a BA in Environment and Planning at XJTLU/UoL. Her research intersts are in housing development, conceptualising liveable developments, changing motivations and interactions among stakeholders.

Doctoral Research: For A Better Quality of Life in China: Planning Incentivisation In Housing Development

Housing, taking the largest share of urban land use, is central to the shaping of attractive living environment. Yet the financialisaton of the China’s housing system has turned housing from a social good towards an investment vehicle, intensifying problems such as vacant spaces, car-oriented development and air pollution, urban sprawl with inadequate infrastructure and social divides. Re-emphasising functional instead of investment becomes central to China’s pursuit of quality development attributes of housing given problems related to housing over-speculation. Planning incentivisation has emerged as a proactive mechanism to shape desired forms of development while minimising their negative public impacts through leveraging developers’ resources and motivations. Thus, this research aims to examine how planning intervention incentivises housing development towards improving quality of life and identify mechanisms that reshape the public-private relations and interactions in China’s urbanisation.

Supervising team: Dr Yunqing Xu, Dr Olivier Sykes (UoL), and Dr Sheng Zhong


Jinliu Chen

Email: jinliu.Chen18@student.xjtlu.edu.cn

Jinliu Chen is an architect and urban designer currently conducting his Ph.D. research at the Department of Geography and Planning, University of Liverpool. His research focuses on sustainability, urban regeneration, urban design, and quantitative urban analysis.

Doctoral Research: Densification as a Design Tool and Sustainable Community Regeneration – Research on Old Communities in Suzhou

The “urban regeneration movement” is mentioned for the first time in the Chinese 14th five-year plan, and its major content is the old communities built before 2000. This research studies the role of densification in regenerating old communities and promoting sustainable development by means of design guidelines for regeneration. Previous research in this field focused on policymaking and multiple planning method and was less concerned about an integrated “assessment – design” approach at micro community level. The research method is mixed with comprehensive measurements of spatial and social aspects of the case studies. The results can provide a reference for the transformation decision-making of old communities and form a practical assessment framework and sustainable regeneration implementation guidelines.

Supervising team: Dr Paola Pellegrini, Dr Gareth Abrahams (UoL)


Siyu Chen

Email: Siyu.Chen1903@studentxjtlu.edu.cn

Siyu Chen is a PhD candidate of XJTLU and research topic is age-friendly urban health niche modelling. He achieved his master degree of urban design in the University of Melbourne with best outstanding academic award and BA (Hons) in Urban Planning and Design from XJTLU with first class. He is also a research assistant of NSFC Project of Taihu new town elderly-friendly community research.

Doctoral Research: Explore influences of small-scale public open space of resettlement neighbourhood environment on landless elderly residents’ health-related behaviours in China —a Health Niche Model Approach


This research aims to explore the interrelationship between small-scale public open space within resettlement neighbourhoods and health-related behaviours of the landless elderly in China. Extensive previous researches have shown the complex relationship between neighbourhood environment, behaviours, and health outcomes, but the role of public open space within the resettlement neighbourhood has been largely overlooked. Most landless farmers, especially the elderly, have a strong sense of place attachment to their farmland and homestead. After losing farmland and relocating to the resettlement neighbourhood in the city, many elderly farmers may experience adaptation issues in terms of unhealthy lifestyle, stress and broken social ties. Those ‘soft edge’ space between buildings and roads is indeed the most intimate space for the elderly, as an extension from home place to public space, particularly for displaced farmers who used to live in the countryside. Based on the combination of qualitative and quantitative methods, the objective evaluation of small-scale public space of resettlement neighbourhood, observational behaviours, and self-report perceived environment will be collected and analysed. It is expected to be found from this research that the interrelationship among SNPOS (small-scale neighbourhood public open space), PE (Perception of environment), HRB (health-related behaviours) within the resettlement neighbourhood and enriching the concept of health niche model (Sarkar et al., 2014) at meso-macro level.

Supervising team: Dr Ying Chang, Dr Bing Chen,Dr Fei Chen (UoL)


Gao Du

Email: gao.du@xjtlu.edu.cn

Gao Du obtained his BA degree in Civic Design from the University of Liverpool (UoL) and BEng in Urban Planning and Design, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU). He completed MSc degree in Urban Planning (Urban Regeneration) at the Department of Urban Planning and Design, XJTLU. He has also worked as a research assistant in several research projects related to urban regeneration, public involvement and museum visitor behavior and tracking.

Doctoral Research: Is it still dark? The social construction of dark heritage tourism: a case study of Lvshun Prison Museum in China.  

This research unpacks the process of social construction in dark tourism by examining prison museums to illustrate the process and effects of the meaning-making of sites’ dark attributes. Specifically, this research examines the practices in China to fill the gap in the existing theories rooted in western contexts: much less is known about the dynamics whereby different interest groups or individuals assign specific meanings to the sites with attributes which are over-inclusively labelled as ‘darkness’ (e.g. death and suffering). Empirically, the research conducts a case study on Lvshun Prison, established by the colonisers in the 1900s. Using qualitative strategies, this study examines how darkness was constructed and experienced and the involved cultural, political or societal factors by applying thematic analysis of the data. Drawing on the findings, this study argues that death, punishment, and suffering in Lvshun prison are officially symbolised as a national shame and glorious martyrdom, being ‘darkened’ and ‘reddened’ to fit into the nationalistic narratives of China’s humiliating past and even its present. It also reveals that the Chinese visitors proactively participated in this social construction by associating the encountered darkness with their prior knowledge about China’s victimhood in the past century. The findings strengthen the notion that darkness is a place attribute that is not confined to the macabre and inhumane aspects, but is subjectively understood and appropriated, individually or collectively, as a social process.

Supervising team: Dr Yiwen Wang, Professor Barry Godfrey, and Dr Zoe Alker (UoL)

Publications and Conference Papers:


Wang, Y., Dimeolo, J. & Du, G. (2021) ‘Issues in Conserving “Orphan Heritage” in Asia: WWII Battlefield Conservation in Hong Kong and Malaysia’, Built Heritage, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 1-20.

‘A New Carceral Continuum and Usable Penal Past: Mapping Prison Tourism in China’ (working paper), intended journal: Crime, Media, Culture.

Book chapters

Du, G. (2016). ‘The Next Practice of Intangible Heritage Conservation in Suzhou: A Case Study of Ecomuseum from Taiwan’, In: C. Lei, Z. Cao, Y. Fang and Y. Wang, ed., 古城复兴:苏州平江历史街区东南地块发展研究与规划设计, 1st ed. Beijing: 中国建筑工业出版社, pp.173-176. ISBN: 9787112198382.

Conference presentations

Du, G. & Wang, Y. (2021) ‘Is Dark (Heritage) Tourism Always Dark? The Analysis of the Interpretations in Lvshun Japanese-Russo Prison Site Museum in China’, The 3rd International Conference on Heritage of China 2020: Heritage and Community—Shared Heritage, Suzhou, 10-11 April 2021.

Du, G. & Wang, Y. (2019) ‘The Reuse of Decommissioned Prison in the Heritage/Tourism Industry’, paper presented to the International Conference ‘The Thrill of the Dark: Heritages of Fear, Fascination and Fantasy’, Birmingham, UK, 25-27 April 2019.

Du, G. & Wang, Y. (2018) ‘The Reuse of Decommissioned Prisons in China: A General Profile and Discussion on Further Research’, paper presented to The 4th Biannual Conference of Association of Critical Heritage Studies (ACHS): Heritage across Borders, Hangzhou, 1-6 September 2018. [Paper also presented to The 2nd International Conference on Heritage of China 2020, Suzhou, 8-9 September 2018].



Email: Yanting.Fan20@student.xjtlu.edu.cn

Yanting obtained her master degree in Urban Planning from XJTLU and BA in environmental engineering from East China University of Science and Technology. Her research interests include environmental planning and sustainable urban development. She has also worked as a research assistant in several research projects related to resettlement neighborhoods, watershed management and water pollution.

Doctoral Research: Spatial-temporal Analysis of the Effects of Urban form on Air Quality in Chinese Cities


Over the last two decades, air pollution has posed a tremendous socioeconomic challenge to the development of Chinese cities with rapid urbanization. Many studies suggest that urban form can sustainably reduce urban air quality deterioration. To date, there has been little argument on the dynamic relationship between urban form metrics and air quality in different urban form pattern groups. This research aims to examine the association between changes in urban form and air quality and investigate the time-lag effect between urban form and air quality.

Supervising team: Dr Joon Sik Kim, Prof Alex Lord (UoL) and Dr Hyung-Chul Chung


Yanru Feng

Email: yanru.feng19@student.xjtlu.edu.cn

Before starting her PhD career, Yanru Feng received her MA from the University of Sheffield in Town and Regional Planning and BE in Landscape Architecture from Sichuan Agricultural University. As an interdisciplinary urban planning researcher, she is good at researching urban problems from multi-angles. She has research experience in the Global South including Masdar smart city (United Arab Emirates), Chennai (India) and Chengdu (China). Her research interests include the smart city and social justice, especially the social exclusion of vulnerable groups in urban areas.

Doctoral Research: Digital inclusion and social inclusion: the experience of construction migrant workers in Chengdu, China


The issue of social exclusion has received considerable critical attention in China, and migrant workers in the construction industry are at the centre of this debate. Social network sites (SNSs) have emerged as a powerful platform for social relation inclusion. However, the role of SNSs in construction migrant workers’ social relation inclusion is limited. Moreover, the “digital divide” risk has appeared with information technology diffusion, indicating that not everyone can benefit from the digital world due to social inequality. For construction migrant workers, the concern is that they may reflect their social status in the digital world as a traditionally excluded vulnerable group. Meanwhile, construction migrant workers are a large group comprising many clusters, and the socioeconomic status of these clusters is likely to vary. Therefore, the effectiveness of SNSs in facilitating social relation inclusion may differ across subgroups. Thus, motivated to address the research gap, this study aims to explore the role of SNSs on construction migrant workers’ social relation inclusion and whether and how the digital divide exists in different kinds of construction migrant workers’ use of SNSs for social relation inclusion.

Supervising team: Prof. Joon Sik Kim and Dr. Hyung-Chul Chung (XJTLU)、Prof. David Shaw (UoL)



Email: Wenquan.Gan20@student.xjtlu.edu.cn

I got a Master’s degree in Urban Design from Cardiff University and the Welsh School of Architecture and an Undergraduate degree in Public Art from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in China. I am also participated in various design projects in Shanghai and Beijing as a landscape architect and urban planner, covering the topic of urban regeneration, tourism-led planning…

Doctoral Research: Renovating the existing residential communities to improve the elderly’s well-being and thereby support ‘Healthy ageing-in-place’: A case study of Suzhou, China.


This research project aims to create design guidelines from the perspective of resource allocation and spatial design that take into account the psychological needs of the elderly at the neighbourhood level to improve existing neighbourhoods’ age-friendly standards to support healthy ageing in place. The research will gain insight into the ageing experience of older adults in their ageing-in-place process in China by conducting empirical research in Suzhou. Furthermore, the insights will be used as a basis for research-by-design and to propose design guidelines that can be applied in conjunction with current regulations in the renovation project of existing communities that are promoted nationwide, to support older adults healthy ageing in place and improve the sustainability of built environments in Chinese urban areas.

Supervising team: Bing Chen (XJTLU), Manuela Madeddu (UoL), Katia Attuyer (University of Birmingham)



Email: Puyue.gong19@student.xjtlu.edu.cn

Before PhD research, Puyue received MSc in Sustainable Construction from University of Liverpool and BA (Hons) in Civil Engineering from XJTLU/UoL. She also has work experience in CIFI real estate company and accomplished 3 real estate development projects in Shanghai and Zhejiang.

Doctoral Research: Multi-factorial decision-making model for the design of healthcare environments


This research aims to propose a BIM-based tool to investigate the integrated influences of multiple physical environment factors on human in healthcare environment, so that it can improve the overall quality of healthcare environment. Previous research mainly focused on the built environment, while lacked information of human-subject related information. This project intends to fill in the gap by incorporating patients’ healthcare outcome into the BIM platform. Explicitly, a machine learning based prediction model will be established by using data collected from case studies; thereby exploring the interrelationship of users’ healthcare outcome with physical environment features by a sensitivity analysis. It is expected that research findings can be used to support the healthcare environment design in China.

Supervising team: Dr Bing Chen and Dr Cheng Zhang  (XJTLU)、Dr Spyridon Stravoravdis (UoL)

Publications and Conference Papers:

Gong, P., Y. Cai, Z. Zhou, C. Zhang, B. Chen, and S. Sharples. 2022. Investigating Spatial Impact on Indoor Personal Thermal Comfort. Journal of Building Engineering 45: 103536.

Ominda Nanayakkara and Puyue Gong. Strength and Permeability of Porous Concrete with Polypropylene Fibres. 2nd RN Raikar Memorial Intl. Conference & Banthia-Basheer Intl. Symposium on ADVANCES IN SCIENCE& TECHNOLOGY OF CONCRETE.

J.Xia and P. Gong. Experimental Investigation on Push-out Test of Steel-Ultra-high Performance Fibre Reinforced Concrete Composite Beam. 11th Pacific Structural Steel Conference Shanghai, China, October 29-31, 2016.



Email: shaohua.hu20@student.xjtlu.edu.cn

Shaohua’s major research focuses on the interaction between ‘Networking’ and ‘Smart city’ by Environment Psychology. Previously, he received his master of urban regeneration in the University College London, and BA (Hons) in Urban Planning and Design from UoL/XJTLU. He also had 2 years work experiences in practice in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province.

Doctoral Research: Getting Public Transport Networked: How to improve the implementation of this “wicked” problem


Networking Public Transport (also known as “one road- one line bus transportation system” in China), a concept proposed as a result of the Hi-trans project, is understood to be an effective way to produce a public transport system that can act as an alternative to the car. This research identifies and examines the relationship between Networking Public Transport Planning and ‘Smart City’ in China. It particularly focuses on whether and how changes and anticipated changes to the citizen arising from Smart City projects affect or could affect the implementation and operation of Networking Public Transport Planning in the future which is related to Environmental Psychology. The main purpose of this research is to develop a conceptual model of how Smart City projects might affect Networking implementation in the future.

Supervising team: Dr Anna Sophie Sturup, Dr Sarah Clement (UoL), and Prof Rhiannon Corcoran


Huo Da

Email: Da.huo18@student.xjtlu.edu.cn

Huo Da is now a PhD student studying a range of subject areas: active ageing-in-place, evidence-based design and therapeutic landscape. Prior to her PhD study, she received MA with merit in Newcastle University, and BA (Hons) in landscape and design from Xi’an University of architecture and technology.

Doctoral Research: Healing landscape that can support healthy ageing-in-place in Suzhou at the community level康复景观支持下的原居健康安老——以苏州为例

This research-by-design study explores whether and how healing landscape can support healthy ageing-in-place at the community level in Suzhou. During the retrofitting of existing communities, the design of landscape is often overlooked and fails to meet older residents’ needs or support their outdoor activities. To bridge the gap, the interrelationship among ‘‘landscape design features (with an emphasis on vegetation configuration) – older residents’ behaviours – older residents’ physical and psychological needs’’ are identified based on literature review to form the conceptual framework for the following research. In the second phase of the study,  communities built in different time periods in Suzhou are selected as studying cases to examine the effectiveness of the summarised conceptual framework via observation and interview to enable cross-checking. With plants selected from the established database, modular landscape designs that can support older residents’ behaviours are presented with multi-sensory stimuli taken into consideration. In the third phase of the research, an iterative process occurs to evaluate the designs with older residents by focus group. At last, design guidance on vegetation configuration that can inform the design and re-design process of communities in Suzhou that can support healthy ageing-in-place is proposed.

Supervising team: Dr Bing Chen, Chen Fei (Arc, UoL)



Email: tianjie.jiang20@student.xjtlu.edu.cn

She is currently a PhD student at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU), focusing on the approach to the competitive strategy of planning education differentiation. Tianjie is also a registered construction engineer and associate professor. She has experience as a planner, landscape architect and planning educator in China and Europe. Her research and teaching interests include ‘development trends of urbanization and planning practice’, ‘urban regeneration from the perspective of transport plan’, ‘heritage appraisal in downtown’, ‘development trends of planning education based on the development needs’, ‘programme certification reform for quality assurance of planning education’, and ‘visualized analysis in planning research’.

Doctoral Research: How can the planning education in China be reformed to support territorial and spatial planning?


The research aims to explore the differentiation strategy in planning education by analysis of indicators (defined crucial elements related to differentiation), mapping the domain of planning knowledge/skills/values according to planning industries on different levels and planning schools with different backgrounds respectively, and summary of the trends of the contemporary planning education and practice.

Supervising team: Dr Bing Chen and Dr Thomas Moore (UoL)


Jiayi Li

Email: Jiayi.li19@student.xjtlu.edu.cn

Jiayi Li obtained the Bachelor’s degree of both the University of Liverpool (UoL) and Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU) in Architectural design in 2016. Then she completed her master’s study with the degree of Master of Architecture (RIBA Part2) of UoL. Her research focuses on the urban design implementation and the quality of the built environment

Doctoral Research: Urban Design Regulatory Control in China: Experience of Shanghai’s waterfront城市设计中控制与监管机制探究:基于上海滨水区更新的经验

Taking Shanghai as the case, the research explores how urban design is implemented through the planning and regulatory systems with the collaboration among the decision-making actors. The main argument is that urban design in China overlooks the process dimension. The practical implementation of urban design requires changing the management thought from the government to governance in a holistic and integrated manner and increasing the discretionary behaviour in regulatory planning. The empirical study investigates the urban design practices of Shanghai by reviewing the design decision-making process, the actions of main agencies, and the public authorities in controlling and delivering spatial quality.

Supervising team: Dr Yiwen Wang, Dr Sebastian Dembski (UoL), and Dr Joon Sik Kim

Publications and Conference Papers:

Li Jiayi & Wang Yiwen (2022) ‘Emergence of the Policy Instruments: Shanghai Industrial Port Heritage in Revolution’, The International Committee for the Conservation of the Industrial Heritage (TICCIH) [Conference, Canada, 28 August- 3 September, 2022]

Li, Jiayi (2021) ‘Towards Effective Design: Urban Design Governance on Shanghai Waterfront’, the 14th International Association for China Planning (IACP) [Conference, Nanjing, 11-13 September 2021]


Mengchuan Liu

Email: Mengchuan.liu18@student.xjtlu.edu.cn

Prior to Mengchuan’s PhD study, she completed a master’s degree in Urban Design at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University and a BA in Interior Design at Coventry University. Her research interests include the development of creative sectors and heritage conservation in China’s rural context, enhancing the rural social-economic development.

Doctoral Research: Towards Neo-Endogenous Rural Development in China? A Case Study on a Rural Revitalisation Programme in Jiangsu Province 走向新内生式的农村发展?一个关于江苏省乡村振兴项目的案例研究

With the rapid urbanisation, rural China have faced many challenges, such as hollowing-out, the weak rural economy and the decline of natural villages. Implementing top-down rural programs is the main approach for achieving China’s “Rural Revitalisation Strategy”, addressing rural issues and enhancing the rural economy. This project aims to explore the partnership and collaboration among actors under the rural programs and examine the impacts on local socio-economic development. This research investigates the implementation of a representative and comprehensive rural revitalisation program in a case study village in Suzhou. By conducting semi-structured in-depth interviews with diverse actors, this research indicates that bottom-up initiatives and strong leadership of village committees are vital for the neo-endogenous rural development of China to align with rural policies and top-down programs. Meanwhile, the empirical findings show that implementing rural revitalisation programs contributes to the local development in terms of rural diversification (e.g. rural tourism), employment and the improvement of living environment and infrastructure. Finally, this research offers policy recommendations for nurturing rural collectives to boost endogenous development combined with top-down rural programs.

Supervising team: Dr. Yiwen Wang, Prof. David Shaw (UoL)

Publications and Conference Papers:

Liu, M., Wang, Y.-W. and Nolf, C. (2019) ‘Creative Chinese Countryside? Township-Village Enterprises as Incubators’, Built Heritage, 2019(4), pp. 72–91.


Geng Ma

Email: g.ma19@student.xjtlu.edu.cn

Prior to his PhD study, Geng completed a master’s degree in Architecture at University of Liverpool and a BA in Landscape of Architecture at Southwest Jiaotong University. His research interests include Urban Green Space (UGS) in high-density cities and spatial renovation in China’s rural areas especially in Southwest parts.

Doctoral Research: The Role of Urban Parks In High-Density Contemporary Urban China

In high-density contemporary urban China, it is necessary to integrate the development of urban green spaces in the urban planning. China is entering the climax of urbanization, and is facing the deterioration of urban ecological environment. Evidences show that increasing urban open space and green space are one of the main strategies to address such a problem. Generally, urban parks with green spaces can improve the urban ecological environment through decreasing temperature, sequestering carbon emission and reduce noise, surface runoff and air pollution. They also provide habitation for a large number of animals and plant species, ensuring diversity in the living environment. With the continued development of China’s urbanization, it is of urgent and practical significance to accelerate the construction of urban parks in China. This study mainly addresses the following research questions: What is the difference between the urban park in the Western world and in China? What is the role urban parks can have in the contemporary urbanization processes? Has this role changed from the past? Why urban parks are needed (if they still are) in the contemporary city? What else should substitute the urban parks? Does urban parks can fix series of city problems occurred in contemporary big cities like Suzhou, Hangzhou and Shanghai in China. Does the spatial form of traditional garden can be the design approach in contemporary urban parks?

Supervising team: Dr. Paola Pellegrini and Dr. Stephen Jay (UoL)

Publications and Conference Papers:

Geng Ma, Huiqing Han, Junjie Zhang (2020) ‘Study on the Characteristics of Landscape Pattern of Traditional Ancient Towns in Southwest Mountainous Areas’ A case study with Jiuzhou, Zhaiying, Tianlong and Tucheng. Journal of University of Jinan (Science and Technology) [Accepted]

Junjie Zhang, Guang Yang, Linli Dai, Geng Ma (2020) ‘Study on the Optimization of Community Home Pension Facilities under the backgrouund of Aging’ A case study of Yunyan district in Guiyang. Urbanism and Archihtecture. 363(17):12-16.

Geng Ma, Dong Wang (2019) ‘The Quantitative Evaluation of Space Inheritance and Protection in Traditional Villages’: Taking Ancient Miao Corridor Baojing Village as an Example. Journal of Development of Small Cities & Towns. 37(5):75-80.

Geng Ma, Lei Peng, Dong Wang (2019) ‘The Evolution of Plane Layout of Dong Nationality’s Drum Tower in Tongdao Area, Hu’nan Province. Huazhong Architecture. 37(1):109-112.



Email: Kunlun.Ren20@student.xjtlu.edu.cn

Kunlun Ren is a PhD student in the Department of Urban Design and Planning, the University of Liverpool (based off-site at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University). Before his PhD, he received a Master degree in Architecture from Illinois Institute of Technology and a Bachelor degree in Architecture from Shandong Jianzhu University. His research interests include restorative environment and university campus design.

Doctoral Research: Research on University Campus Environment Design from the Perspective of Students’ Mental Health Based on the Theory of Restorative Environment

This research aims to explore the possibility of design of the university campus from the perspective of students’ mental health based on the restorative environment theory. The restoration effectiveness of different campus environment will be clarified, and suggestions for improving the designing quality of the campus spaces will be proposed. Current studies in this field have proved that the well-designed urban spaces (including campuses) can help people recover from stress and restore attention fatigue. However, there is a lack of knowledge about how students’ psychological status corresponds to design factors. This research will explicate what environment types and space characteristics can improve the mental health of students and how the experience duration affects the psychological reaction based on a study in Jiangsu Province. The students’ stress status and their preference for relaxing will be investigated; the restorative effectiveness of different types and elements of the environment will be studied; the physiological change data such as ElectroEncephaloGram of the subjects in different environments will be collected. A simulated campus design will be conducted for validation. The relationship between specific campus design factors and restorative effectiveness and design guidance for university campus environment are expected to be proposed in this research.

Supervising team: Dr Bing Chen, Dr Junjie Xi (UoL), Dr Manuela Madeddu (UoL)


Lujie Wang

Email: lujie.wang@xjtlu.edu.cn

Lujie Wang is undertaking her cross-discipline research of Public-private Partnerships (PPPs). Before she started her PhD, she had 6 years working experience in the industry of manufacturing and financing, working as a trainer and private fund manager. Her master’s studies enlightened her on a new point of addressing the pressing environmental and social challenges through well-structured public and private governance arrangements. Her particular interest is cross-border and cross-sector collaboration between government and private sectors, in the field of urban renewal constructions and infrastructure.

Doctoral Research: Harmony, moderation and public private partnerships (PPPs) in the Chinese context: Lessons for harnessing PPPS for a global audience

The overarching aim of the present research is to understand the factors, the underlying structures and mechanisms that are shaping PPP’s role in helping China to realize the objectives of moderate and harmonious urbanization through developments of better public governance, robust private sector participation and fiscal sustainability.

The project will review current public private partnerships in China. Factors to be considered may include but not be limited to, the structure and conditions of the partnerships (e.g. the form and content of contracts), the nature of the parties to the contracts (e.g. organisational culture), the nature of the projects the partnerships are designed to produce (e.g. transport infrastructure and urban development), and the conditions for PPPs in China (e.g. in relation to relevant policy frameworks). The findings of this research will inform policy formulation and implementation, in respect to China’s commitments both to fund further significant urbanisation via PPPs, and to do so in a way that promotes moderate growth and a sustainable society. In order to be successful, China and governments at different levels will need to further develop mechanisms for identifying private sector partners in PPPs who are capable and willing to operate with moderate growth ambitions, as well as capabilities in the effective management of contracts and relationships with these partners. In identifying such partners and the benefits of such partnerships will also have to be elucidated and promulgated. This research may therefore also contribute knowledge that could be generalized and transferred to other countries; for example, in how to attract finance from risk averse (but still profit focused) pension funds who need a mechanism and rationale for making more moderate investments that will satisfy their shareholders.

Supervising team: Dr Sophie Sturup, Professor Adam Cross (UoL)



Email: zaozao.wang@xjtlu.edu.cn

Zaozao Wang is now a PhD student studying urban resilience to flood risks from morphology approach. She completed the undergraduate degree in Civic Design at Xian Jiaotong Liverpool University in 2017, then she held the Master in Architecture (MArch) at Bartlett School of Architecture, University College Lodon in 2018. Her research focus on the longitudinal studies of interaction between urbanism and landscape changing.

Doctoral Research: Towards Flood Resilient Delta: learning from the complex adaptive system of Jiangnan

Area(14th-2035) 迈向洪水韧性三角洲:从江南复杂适应系统中学习(14世纪-2035)

Nowadays, a majority of delta areas around the world are highly exposed to flood risks because of their own natural vulnerability and their rapid urbanisation. Therefore, it is important to improve their capacity to absorb shocks in a dynamic and balanced way. Resilience development is a top-priority countermeasure for the development of future delta regions. The resilience development model highlights the multi-scale and multi-balanced development model and self-adaptability of the system. By introducing this concept to morphology study, this research explores the evolution of resilience of water towns in the Taihu Basin in the face of floods from the perspective of urban form, including the exploration of cross-scale diachronic evolution process and the synchronic comparison of various spatial cases. The purpose is to identify the adaptive principles responding to flood risk in the transforming morphology of water towns, and explore how these principles can potentially inspire resilience thinking in the contemporary spatial design of delta regions.

Keywords: Urban Resilience, Water management, urban form, Yangtze River Delta

Supervising team: Dr Christian Nolf, Dr Yiping Dong, and Dr Neil Macdonald (UoL)


Nan Yang

Email: nan.yang@xjtlu.edu.cn

Nan Yang is now a PhD student studying contemporary vernacular architecture. Before PhD research, he received MSc in Architecture from Delft University of Technology with an outstanding master thesis and BA (Hons) in Architecture from XJTLU/UoL with first class. He also has work experience including a recent one at MVRDV. As a designer, Nan’s profile includes design and research projects in China, Netherlands and the UK. He was also accredited LEED AP, BD+C from USGBC in 2017.

Doctoral Research: A Design Research On Contemporary Vernacular Architecture that Can Facilitate The Rural Development In China

This research focuses primarily on the study of contemporary rural buildings and its design approach including design strategies and construction methods. The main research objective addresses how contemporary rural architectures can be designed to satisfy changing needs in the countryside of China, addressing issues of built environment, social considerations and economic effects A design framework was initiated based on literature review and case studies of selected worldwide contemporary vernacular architectures. Design is used as a tool to apply design framework on the chosen sites. Specific design guidance based on design framework for chosen sites from Yunnan was implemented to design prototypes. The post-design/construction evaluation of prototypes (including questionnaire and interviews with local stakeholders related to it) is the main part of research analysis. The anticipated output is a design framework for contemporary vernacular architectural practices and two design guidance developed based on it for two specific areas in Yunnan. The research findings will provide an insight into the existing rural architectural practices, serving as a basis for further research on vernacular architecture in China and the relevant practices and research both locally and internationally.

Supervising team: Dr Bing Chen (XJTLU), Professor Robert Kronenburg (Architecture, UoL), and Dr Junjie Xi (Architecture, UoL)

Publications and Conference Papers:

Journal Articles

Xiao X., Yang N. (corresponding author), Chen B., Chen X., Ding M., (2020), “The Application Research of Contemporary Construction Technology in Rural Construction: Taking the Design of Local Architecture in Yunnan as an Example”, Huazhong Architecture, 2020,38(02):136-142. [Journal Paper in Chinese]

Conference Papers

Yang N. and Chen B. (2017), “Adaptive architecture using prefabrication technology: a design research on the future vernacular architecture in Yunnan Province” (Oral Presentation). Proceedings of 2017 Forum on Academic Innovation for Postgraduates in Jiangsu Province – Digital+ cities under change in the Yangtze River Delta. Suzhou, Suzhou University of Science and Technology, 17 December 2017. P22-61.

Zi D, Chen B. and Yang N. (2018), “Research on the aging-friendly design in the old community of Suzhou”, Paper Collection on urban development and planning in 2018

Yang N., Chen B., Robert K., Xi J. (2018), “The Future of Vernacular Architecture in China, Redefining Vernacular Architecture through contemporary design and emerging technology”, 34th International Conference on Passive and Low Energy Architecture

Book Chapters

Yang N., Chen B., Bai W., Xiao J., (2020), “Leju Village Visitor Center And Village Construction Demonstration Project”, Album of research and projects of sustainable and creative villages in SW China, 41-44. [In Chinese]

Jiang Y., Huang D., Yang N. (2020), “Rural Houses Design In Ancient Villages In Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province”, Album of research and projects of sustainable and creative villages in SW China, 77-89. [In Chinese]


Yueming Yang

Email: yueming.yang19@student.xjtlu.edu.cn

Yueming Yang is now a PhD student studying about housing markets and school district in XJTLU. Prior to her PhD study, she completed a master’s degree in Urban Planning in 2019 and a BA in Finance Management in 2016. Her research interests are in housing market, school districts policies, education quality.

Doctoral Research: Exploring the Relationship Between School District and Housing Submarket in Suzhou, China


The spatial pattern of housing submarket transactions has been increasingly apparent relative to the unitary housing market in Chinese cities in recent years. The conventional view of the global housing market is that the quality of the school district would capitalize into housing prices, which come to indicate the different level of the housing market. However, the submarket model, due to the characteristics of spatial autocorrelation, may have different internal capitalization status different from the unitary housing market. The spatial/nonspatial model and the segmentation standard of the submarket and especially the relationship between the school district and the submarket cannot be confirmed according to existing applied research. This research would use empirical decision methods to define the submarket criteria and conduct corresponding tests. Moreover, spatial econometric models such as SLM, SEM and GWR would be used to explore the relationship between school district and submarket based on the consideration of spatially dependency nature of the submarket. The research hopes to inject new insights into the housing market from the school district’s content.

Supervising team: Dr Hyung-Chul Chung, Dr Eddy S. Fang, Dr Joon Sik Kim, and Dr Alex Nurse (UoL)


Yuqing Zhang

Email: yuqing.zhang@xjtlu.edu.cn

Yuqing Zhang is a PhD candidate at XJTLU. Prior to her PhD study, she completed a master’s degree in Housing and City Planning at University College London (UCL) and a BA in urban planning and design at XJTLU/UoL. Her primary research interests are in social-spatial segregation, school district, and social integration.

Doctoral Research: Unequal school, school district and residential segregation in China


The segregated groups do not just live in different communities but also in separate local political jurisdictions, particularly such as school districts. Better schools are intricately bound up with their Hukou and residential location and with more resources in the form of financial and cultural capital, which are not evenly distributed geographically. Empirical evidence shows that affluent households are more concentrated in wealthy residential neighbourhoods – this, in turn, corresponds with better school districts.  While residence-based admission policy during the compulsory education stage is set up to improve education equity, it could replicate residential segregation and potentially affect long-term social-spatial integration. The significant home price premium in better school attendance zones and emerging evidence of school-led gentrification in urban China necessitate a study on the current school-district level residential segregation and its potential consequences and policy implication. In transitional urban Suzhou, the goal of this doctoral study is to investigate the connection between segregation and one of the key domains of life in the educational space. The finding reveals that Suzhou has formed a status quo of residential segregation in school districts based on different income levels and gains contextual effects by interacting with other families. Supervising team: Dr Hyungchul Chung (XJTLU), Dr Alex Nurse (UoL), Dr Shihyang Kao (XJTLU), Dr Eddy Fang (XJTLU)

Publications and Conference Papers:

2018-2019, 15th International Congress of Asian Planning Schools Association (APSA) / How does school district policy affect residential segregation in China?


Yuanyi Zou

Email: Yuanyi.Zou19@student.xjtlu.edu.cn

Yuanyi received his master degree from XJTLU majored in MSc Urban Planning in 2019; and BA in urban and rural planning from Nanjing Forestry University in 2017. His main research interests are relationship between public health and urban planning, urban food environment and dietary behaviours.

Doctoral Research: Take-out food and overweight and obesity of adult urban residents in China

The prevalence of overweight and obesity has become a cause for concern in China and it resulted in extremely harmful health impacts. Meanwhile, take-out food is becoming an indispensable part of Chinese urban residents’ daily lives these years. Studies in developed countries found that excessive consumption of take-outs (fast food) is positively associated with an increase in individual’s BMI. However, take-out food has far more variations in China than their counterparts in western countries thanks to the diversity of Chinese fast food and prevalence of online payment. As a result, the relationship between the consumption of take-outs and overweight and obesity levels among adult urban residents is still a research gap in China. Hence, this study aims to use cross-sectional methods based on social-ecological framework for obesity and health behaviour theories to investigate this relationship and provide scientific evidence to devise effective intervention programs to prevent overweight and obesity in China’s urban regions.

Supervising team: Dr Lin Lin, Professor Thomas Fischer (UoL), and Dr Jianli Hao


Zhonghui Jiang

Email: zhonghui.jiang21@student.xjtlu.edu.cn

Prior to the PhD study, Jiang obtained her master’s degree in Urban Development Planning in University College London (UCL) and MSc Human Geography and Urban-rural Planning in Sun Yat-Sen University. Her research interests are community life circle, spatial justice, housing price and the influence factors.

Doctoral Research: 15分钟生活圈对住宅价格影响的空间分异研究——以苏州市主城区为例

The research on the spatial differentiation of the impact of 15-minute life circle on housing price: A case study of Suzhou City

With the continuous development of urban construction and the improvement of people’s living standard, urban residents have higher requirements for the surrounding facilities of residential buildings. The crisis brought about by Covid-19 has limited people’s mobility and placed greater demands on service capacity in and around communities. The concept of “15-minute life circle” has been put forward and gradually applied to the practice of urban planning in China. In addition, under the background of the continuous development of China’s housing industry and housing market, housing price has also become one of the key factors affecting residents’ sense of happiness. From the perspective of 15-minute life circle, this study The project will be based on a quantitative evaluation of community living circles to explore the influence of the convenience or quality of 15-minute life circle on the spatial differentiation of housing price.

Supervising team: Chung Hyungchul, Lord Alexander(Uol), Lin Lin


Xiaohan Yu

Email: Xiaohan.Yu19@student.xjtlu.edu.cn

Xiaohan obtained her BA degree in Civic Design from the University of Liverpool (UoL) and BEng in Urban Planning and Design, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU). She received her MSc degree in Urban Planning at the Department of Urban Planning and Design, XJTLU. Her research interests cover transportation and land use planning. She has also involved as a research assistant in several research projects related to housing market, urban spatial planning, transportation, and air quality.

Doctoral Research: Accessibility, Congestion, and Air Pollution in Location Choice: An Empirical Study in Suzhou, China

In economic geography, accessibility is an essential factor for effectively boosting the economy. Empirical studies show that businesses and companies are tend to agglomerate in areas that benefit from accessibility to maximize productivity and increase economic advantages in the densest areas of cities. However, some studies have shown a trade-off between benefits brought by accessibility and negative effects caused by air pollution and congestion. The benefit of accessibility can be reduced through negative external costs generated by air pollution and congestion. The influence of this trade-off could be varied depending on locations, and/or submarkets.

Regarding Suzhou as the study area, this research aims to investigate the effects of accessibility, air pollution and congestion on the housing price from spatial dimension at both city level and district level. The study intends to contribute to understanding of the spatial implication of urban transportation infrastructure provision and policy in China, and more generally to new urban transportation policy discussion at both national and global level.

Supervising team: Dr Hyung-chul Chung, Dr Anna Sophie Sturup, Prof Alex Lord (UoL)


Peiao Tan

Email: peiao.tan12@student.xjtlu.edu.cn

Peiao Tan is a current PhD in the Department of Urban Planning and Design.  He was one of the undergraduate student at XJTLU. Peiao obtained MSc in Regional And Urban Planning Studies from London School of Economics and Erasmus Master in Economics from Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne — Paris School of Economics.

Doctoral Research: Reassessing Regional development in China.


The 7th population census indicated urbanization rate of China has reached 63% in 2020. During the past decades, Marketization, Decentralization and Globalization jointly formed the China’s development miracle. My research focuses on reassessing the regional development in recent years from perspectives of administrative reform, intra-provincial disparities and urban shrinkage. The aim is to provide theoretical and policy implications for the future urban and regional development.

Supervising team: Prof. Rui Wang (80%) and Prof. Olivier Sykes (20%)


Lin Ji

Email: Lin.Ji20@student.xjtlu.edu.cn

Prior to Lin Ji’s Ph.D. study, she obtained a master’s degree in Urban Planning from Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University and a master’s degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Sheffield, and she completed her Bachelor’s degree in Landscape from Suzhou University of Science and Technology. Her research interests in community participation..

Doctoral Research:Barriers of collaborative planning and governing of community gardens— institutionalization of urban commons in China’s context

The study focuses on the management issues of community gardens in China, from the perspective of collaborative governance of urban common. After an intensive literature review, this study will firstly identify the stakeholders and actors of representative community gardens in three cities of the Yangtze delta, followed by a document analysis of the statutory and legal norms and regulations that define the property rights, responsibilities, and obligations of different stakeholder and actors and perceived ownership, rights and obligations of participants. The core part of the study is to identify the barriers, both formal and informal that prevent the transition of community gardens from a placemaking niche to a regime with clear definitions of rights, responsibilities and obligations that regulate and enable sustainable, inclusive, and collaborative governance of community gardens. This study will enrich both collaborative planning theory and its practical application at the micro-neighborhood level.

Supervising team: Dr Ying Chang、Dr Juhyun Lee、Dr Thomas Moore


YU Po-shan

Email: PoShan.Yu20@student.xjtlu.edu.cn

Yu is a Phd student. Yu earned his BBus, MCom and MSc prior to his Phd journey. His research topic is about public-private partnership practices, infrastructure development and its governance mechanism in China. He likes reading, music and movies.

Doctoral Research: Megaproject Planning and Management: Chinese PPP Governance under the Self-correcting Mechanism of the Institutional Settings – A Case Study in Jiangsu, China


Chinese people often say that if you want to be rich, build roads first. Over the past 30 years, China has become the world’s largest infrastructure market, thanks to its economic reform and booming urbanization efforts. Although this evolution is positive and dramatic, it is now possible to identify key issues that have significant implications on China’s infrastructure planning & management and the direction and shape of its construction industry. This thesis is attempting to investigate the dynamics of the interlinked relationship between public-private partnerships (PPPs) lifecycle governance structure (LGS) and infrastructure development as well as the channels via which they influence each other over time in Jiangsu Province, China. The logical link of this relationship is two-way, with PPP infrastructure development (i.e. planning and management) in tandem with economic development, the respective PPP governance arrangement, i.e. institutions, does matter. This project aims to assess the operational and financing impacts of PPP projects in China under its unique governance mechanism and investigate how these impacts will affect PPP planning and management.

Supervising team: Dr Sophie Sturup、Dr Xuefeng Wang、Dr Alex Nurse (UoL)


Beixi Sun

Email: Beixi.Sun22@student.xjtlu.edu.cn

Beixi’s research mainly focuses on colonial heritage interpretation and dark tourism. Before beginning a PhD, Beixi studied an MA in International Cultural Heritage Management at Durham University in 2020/21. Prior to this, she completed a BSc in Tourism Management from Shanxi University. She has also worked as research assistant in several research projects related to contested heritage, community engagement and cultural tourism.

Doctoral Research: To whom do we entrust the memories of our colonial past?  – The dissonance of prison heritage in Qingdao and Dalian in postcolonial China

Heritage is a process of memory and construction, and this process is often selective and biased. The interpretation of heritage sites associated with colonial history are often treated as political events by governments. In some narratives of colonial heritage sites, particular aspects of the colonial past have been selectively highlighted to fulfill the political ideology or interests.

Colonial prisons in China, for example, are often used as a place for invoking the collective memories of China as a victim of imperialism, a base for patriotic education and a destination of ‘red tourism’—arousing Chinese nationalism and anti-Japan antagonism through tourism. However, there is also a need to curate it as a dark-tourism site, fulfilling the expectation and curiosity of young-generation thrill seekers and international visitors, performing the education and entertainment function of penal tourism, which has been long ignored in current heritage interpretation. Therefore, this research seeks to investigate the dissonance – conflicting views of different stakeholders — embodied in the colonial prisons in China and explore the socio-cultural and educational implications of this long-ignored dissonance.

Supervising team: Dr.Yiwen Wang, Professor Barry Godfery


Hui Wang

Email: hui.wang2002@student.xjtlu.edu.cn

Hui Wang is now a PhD student concerning with the role of culture economy, particularly film industry, in the development of cities in China’s transforming inland regions. She holds a BA in Creative Culture Industry (Ocean University of China), and a MSc in Sustainable Cities (Kings College London). After her master, she worked as a writer and an editor for Urban China magazine and other creative agencies.

Doctoral Research: WHEN FILM FESTIVALS ARRIVE SMALL CITIES: The Changing Geography of Chinese Film Festivals and Its Impacts on Urban Development in China’s Inland Regions (当电影节来到中国小城市:中国电影节的地理空间演变及其对内陆城市发展的影响)

The past decade has witnessed a significant transformation of the geography of film production and marketing in China, with a number of small cities in the country’s inland regions—most noticeably Xining in Qinghai and Pingyao in Shanxi—fast-arising to become world-renown host cities of film festivals. The process looks peculiar given Chinese inland cities’ lack of connection to the country’s film industry and their relatively underdeveloped film markets. The research will investigate the main factors behind this changing geography and evaluate its impacts on local urban developments. The research will be carried out through a combination of qualitative methods including in-depth interviews, participatory observation, and archival research.

Supervising team: Dr Shih-yang Kao, Dr Yiwen Wang, and Dr Mark Riley (UoL)

Publications and Conference Papers:

Wang, H. (2020). Double Exposure · Factory Rebirth, Site Project of Innovation Galaxy, Jing’an District (双重曝光·旧厂新生:静安区新业坊实践案例展). In: This Connection (连接:共享未来的公共空间实践). Shanghai: Tongji University Press, pp.112-134.

Wang, H. (2020). Linking Zikawei, Site Project of T20 Building, Xujiahui (融“汇”贯通:徐汇区T20大厦实践案例展). In: This Connection (连接:共享未来的公共空间实践). Shanghai: Tongji University Press, pp.154-174.

Wang, H. (2018). Localizing Design of Commercial Space and Urban Space by Public Vitality (公共活力引致的绿色轴心空间升级体系设计). Urban China, (83), pp.148-154.

Wang, H. (2018). Urban Green Space from the Views of Designers (设计师眼中的都市绿色空间导入). Urban China, (84), pp.91-97.

Wang, H. and Tsui, G. (2018). Green Valley in Xuhui District: Predicament of a Private Run Park (徐汇中城绿谷:企业运营公园的日常打开方式). Urban China, (84), pp.120-125.



Email: Suyuan.Tong16@student.xjtlu.edu.cn

Suyuan is now a PhD student concerning with the interrelationship between environmental psychology, public space and children’s health. Prior to her PhD study, she achieved her Bachelor’s degree in Town and Country Planning from the University of Manchester. She obtained MSc degree in Urban Design at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University. Her research interests are in human behaviour, built environment and children’s health.

Doctoral Research: Urban spatial elements and children’s wellbeing  城市空间元素与儿童健康

The significance of child-friendly spaces is well-captured in literature. A good city should be child-centered, allowing children to be deeply involved in urban life activities. Recently, an increasing number of studies concerning the interrelationship between the built environment and children’s well-being have been carried out to design child-friendly cities. From an urban design perspective, spatial elements, such as pedestrian space, green space, light view, and shops design, could significantly influence children’s behaviour and activity range. Understanding the influencing mechanism of urban spatial design on children’s behaviour is vital to children’s well-being and urban planning and design. This research will evaluate the effect of “how children perceive the space” and “what behaviour children will have in the different built environment.” This research will combine the traditional urban planning and design field with the environmental psychology field and consider children’s voices creatively. The research could present a more comprehensive evaluation of urban design associated with children’s well-being conditions

Supervising team: Lin Lin; Thomas Fischer (UoL); Shih-YangKao