School of Design

Postgraduate research student profiles

Shan He

Shan He profile photo


Chinese Urbanisation Powered by High-Speed Rail: Challenges for hyper-densities


This research re-thinks the planning and design practices of new town developments around station-node areas of the emerging national High-Speed Rail (HSR) network in China, in the context of Chinese urbanization which has happened during the past decades with speed and scale that were never experienced in human history.

The thesis builds its knowledge of the relationship between urban life and railway station in conventional China from investigating cases presented in two “sections”: a “chronological section” that reviews over a century’s history of the railway station of Hangzhou City, capital of coastal Zhejiang Province, and a “geographical section” that compares today’s station-node area developments visited across China. This study provides references to understand the role that HSR station plays in the new town development, and challenges re-interpretation of its own to power different urban life in the planning and design practices of future HSR Oriented New Towns (HONTs).

The following chapters further investigate current HONT developments from three relevant aspects: transportation planning, urban function/land use, and statutory codes. This study leads to an in-depth understanding about the mechanisms that shape today’s HONT development as well as a theoretical guideline for a better HONT living. A following urban design practice based on an established HONT site selected from visited cases, allows the researcher to test above guideline in a practical environment. Through comparing outcomes of the “test design” and original scheme, conclusions are delivered targeting at more live-able HONTs in the future.

Why my research is important

This research benefits a theoretical guideline for future HONT planning and design practices in China, which responses to and integrates the unique natures of HSR infrastructure summarised from studies into conventional and current railway station-node area developments.

Further beyond, the author attempts to challenge a new thinking for Chinese urbanisation, which shifts priorities of urban development from speed/scale into quality.


  • Australian Postgraduate Award
  • UWA Top-up Scholarship

The New Eastern City of Hangzhou, a 9.3 square kilometre HONT development around the city's new HSR hub, Hangzhou East Railway Station