#03 From top-down to bottom-up development: Which is more suitable for contemporary Jingdezhen?

The history of urban development of Jingdezhen involved both top-down master planning and bottom-up development. The first urban planning of Jingdezhen back in Song Dynasty included Changjiang as the axis of transportation and a centralised core of ceramic production. Its layout revolved around Yuyao Kiln that was a symbol of the power of emperor. It was at this time Jingdezhen gained the reputation of “City of Porcelain” by producing ceramics of the highest quality. Every production step from design to crafting was planned and restricted. Similar in the communist period of planned economy, the city of Jingdezhen was developed around the 10 state-owned factories where the production of ceramics was planned and executed. Until Reform and Opening Up in the 1990s, Jingdezhen has experienced its first bottom-up development with scattered ceramic workshops that result in the fragmentation of urban landscape.

From the perspective of urban planning, top-down development offers a rather organised city layout than bottom-up development and is easier to manage the pace and scope of development. The planned development of Jingdezhen has given the city a conspicuous urban boundary and has helped developed its reputation of ceramic industry. To a certain extent however, it limited the potential of the development of ceramic industry. One of the criticisms of the ceramics from Jingdezhen in recent years was that they became repetitive and lack creativity. The emergence of self-initiated private ceramic workshops has provided the flexibility in the creative process of ceramic products. These workshops could easily adjust its scale and location to facilitate the production of desired ceramics. Therefore, bottom-up development initiated by the locals could also be beneficial to the development of ceramic industry.

In the new master plan of Jingdezhen, the concept tends to be the hybrid of both top-down and bottom-up development. Without eliminating the scattered ceramic workshops, the new proposal tackles the fragmented urban condition by establishing nodal points of development such as institutes, museums or new urban centre for each of the 6 districts. Ideally, these nodal points would act like a magnet, attracting the future development of urban fabrics to cluster around them so that the urban condition would be refocused from fragmentation.


Yan, Anjun, Yumin Wan, and Muchuan Chen. “Research on Urban Spatial Development Strategy of Jingdezhen.” Journal of East China Jiaotong University 30, no. 4 (August 2013): 75–81.

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