Affordable housing in China's cities has become the government's key priority since 1998 housing reforms abolished the danwei housing, a work-unit that provided housing as an employee benefit.  Since this shift, social housing dropped from almost 100 percent to less than 10 percent, and have contributed to new urban spatial relationships within the city.  At the same time, as urban housing prices have skyrocketed since 2005, housing affordability has become a major issue.


The Chinese central government sets policies with respect to affordable housing, but the local governments are responsible for the construction, financing, and managemnet of that housing mandate by providing state-owned land to developers willing to construct affordable housing units to eligible Beijing citizens.  In view of its housing shortage in cities, China's twelth Five-year Plan mandates the construction of 200,000 affordable homes every year.


Because of the policies in place, there are several challenges that make, what is essentially city-building, sever.  Our argument is this: affordable housing in China is larger than any one site.  It requires regional strategies that hone in on the nuances of Beijing development patterns, local policies, form, structure, and culture.  It is city building, and as such, requires a new model for affordable housing development that provides housing for over 7.4 million families at both the regional and site scale.


The scale of this challenge is huge.

*text credit: Shelly Zhu


Spring 2014


University of Pennsylvania


Stefan Al


Shelly Zhu / Suzanne Mahoney / Janet Lee / Philip McBride / Minjoo Kim


Beijing, China

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