Center for Cultural Studies on Science and Technology in China
© Joerg Glaescher
Urban Rural Assembly (URA)

Managing inclusive transformation-to-sustainability processes at the urban-rural interface of the Huangyan-Taizhou region in China
Direkt zur URA Projekt-Website





China erlebt derzeit sehr beschleunigte Urbanisierungsprozesse mit weitreichenden Einflüssen auf städtische und ländliche Landschaften. Land-Stadt-Migration ist oftmals assoziiert mit Modernisierung und einem höheren Lebensstandard. Die verschiedenen Realitäten im Alltag der Menschen und die Transformation von Städten, Dörfern und dem Raum zwischen ihnen sind allerdings komplex und sehr vielseitig. Das URA Projekt untersucht die Verbindungen zwischen urbanen Zentren und ihrem Hinterland und ihr Potenzial für eine Entwicklung hin zur Nachhaltigkeit. Es ist Teil des „Sustainable Development of Urban Regions“ Projektes des Bundesministeriums für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF) und Projektträger ist das Deutsche Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR). Ein besonderer Fokus der Forschungsarbeit liegt dabei auf den Übergangsräumen an der Schwelle zwischen ländlichem und städtischem Raum und ihren wirtschaftlichen und sozialen Transformationspotentialen.



Sigrun Abels

Leitung des China Centers

+49 30 314-25995

+49 30 314-28048

Einrichtung Center for Cultural Studies on Science and Technology in China
Gebäude KAI
Raum KAI 1114

China is currently experiencing rapid urbanisation processes with extensive impacts on urban and rural landscapes. Rural-to-urban migration is often associated with modernisation and an increase in quality of life, but the different realities in people’s lives and the transformations of cities, villages and the space between them are complex and manifold. The URA Project is investigating the links between the urban centres and their hinterland and their potential in the transformation-to-sustainability. It is part of the German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) project “Sustainable Development of Urban Regions” and is managed by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR).  The project is specifically focussing on the interface of urban to rural transition at the edge of urban areas. Small-scale catalysts like small-and-medium-enterprises (SMEs) as well as local and community governments are seen as particularly important in the ongoing urbanisation and the challenges it poses to the environment, ecosystems and biodiversity. Fostering community-driven action plays an important role in a move towards circular economic modes of production and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  As a case study, Huangyan-Taizhou urban region has been chosen and acts as the meso-scale. Located in the Shanghai-Jiangsu-Anhui-Zhejiang urban corridor, the macro-scale of this research, Taizhou city has strong economic and social links to the Huangyan region hinterland. Three different urbanised village will be selected as micro-scale case studies, functioning as “Reallabore” (real-life laboratories) where different policies will be tested.  A diverse set of methods is used in this study which follows the systemic approach of inter- and transdisciplinary research from macro- to micro-scale. This is combined with the Nexus approach around the previously identified topics of cultural heritage, food safety and renewable resources. In the process, local actor-dialogues are conducted to inform a new science-policy-society-interface and shape “Raumbilder” (spatial visions) to create incentive-based policies for local actors and communities.  The aim is not just to develop more complex tools to understand rural-urban transformations but also to implement concrete interventions in the “Reallabore” that strengthen local and regional value chains and value generation. For this, the project intends to identify important catalysts to support urban-rural linkages and avoid polarisation, as well as pushing the transformation-to-sustainability. Internally, the URA-project is divided into 10 working packages (WP) [Figure 1] that are each led by different German universities that cooperate with corresponding Chinese partners [Figure 2]. Those packages are

  1. Project Management and Coordination
  2. Urban-Rural Socio-Spatial Practices
  3. Urban-Rural Material Cycles
  4. Urban-Rural Landscapes & Spatial Typologies
  5. Urban-Rural Ecosystems
  6. Urban-Rural Migration & Mobility
  7. Urban-Rural Governance & Policies
  8. Reallabore I-III & Local Innovation
  9. Strategic Governance at the Urban-Rural Interface
  10. Science-Policy Dialogues and Knowledge Transfer

Introduction of Working Package 6 led by Center for Cultural Studies on Science and Technology in China (CCST)

Rural-to-urban migration and its changing patterns are considered the key factors affecting urbanisation dynamics in China. They keep shaping and reshaping flows and linkages within urban-rural regions. In the process, segmented institutions responsible for the household registration system further deepened the urban-rural social divide. However, a radical reform of the household registration system that replaced the former ‘Urban-Rural Hukou’ by ‘Resident Hukou’ has been carried outon a national scale since 2014. This reform is meant to reduce the urban-rural divide gradually.As a part of URA, Working Package (WP) 6 will be led by CCST, which makes its broad networks to the Chinese science community, university partnerships and key policy institutions available to URA. It will lay some groundwork for the research topic of ‘Urban-Rural Migration and Mobility’together with Shanghai University.It will be taking Huangyan-Taizhou Region in Yangtze River Delta as a starting point for this research.Following the research design [Figure 1], thestudy will look into the aspects of

  1. trajectory and patterns of urban-rural migration, and the way (im)mobilities are created
  2. driving forces and key factors of migration
  3. current urban-rural socio-spatial boundaries
  4. changes in migration and mobility resulting from the recently reformed hukou system

By using mixed research methods [Figure 2], such as statistical analysis, new data (e.g. big data) analysis, mapping, semi-structured interviews and participatory observation among others, relevant qualitative and quantitative data will be collected, analyzed and interpreted.At the macro-level, the guiding questions for this research are, what the general situation of migration and mobility in Taizhou is and what the main driving forces and key factors are. Looking at the micro-level, it will be investigated what the interactions between the urban-rural migration and urban-rural socio-spatial transformation are. In doing so, a crucial layer of socio-spatial information of the research region will be provided and added to the research database. With that, WP 6 will contribute to the interpretation of the reasons for and effects of the phenomenon of migration and mobility. Furthermore, it will provide approaches and theories to identify the critical socio-spatial localities of urban-rural transition. Its findings will support the experimental spatial interventions and relevant knowledge transfer with empirical evidence.


More information can be found here: