On February 21, when China’s State Council released a new set of urban development guidelines, it backtracked on many of the conventions that have defined the past two decades of rampant urbanisation.

These new guidelines aim to produce a framework which will revamp and revitalise China’s cities to create urban areas that have improved navigability, tighter-knit communities, better access to commercial and public areas, and that are less resource intensive. These new directives were taken from the recommendations derived from a rare…