Urban Resilience by Morphology? Reflections on Lockdown Urbanism in China

Giaime Botti, Eugenio Mangi, Ali Cheshmehzangi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedingBook Chapterpeer-review


The initial containment of the COVID-19 pandemic in China has been attributed by media and experts to the strict implementation of a generalised lockdown in Chinese cities, according to a system of policies and practices that, with some changes and updates, have been enforced until the present. This chapter addresses the problem of urban resilience in a pandemic context from the perspectives of architecture and urban morphology, focusing on the most diffused typology of urban blocks in contemporary China. After a detailed overview of significant settlement types, the chapter explores how the specific typo-morphology of large-scale gated communities, frequently encompassing a whole urban superblock, has proven its resilience during the ongoing pandemic. By mixing a typo-morphological reading with empirical observations, the article highlights how selected features of Chinese gated communities have helped residents deal with intermittent lockdowns. They include the combined factors of access restrictions and movement control, essential features of a gated community; the presence of generous outdoor space, also possible considering the large dimension of such settlements; the availability of commercial activities and other basic services within the compound.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResilience vs Pandemics. Urban Sustainability
EditorsAli Cheshmehzangi, Maycon Sedrez, Hang Zhao, Tian Li, Tim Heath, Ayotunde Dawodu
Place of PublicationSingapore
ISBN (Electronic)9789819979967
ISBN (Print)9789819979950
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Urban resilience
  • Disease outbreak
  • COVID-19
  • Urban morphology


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