SCIENTIA GEOGRAPHICA SINICA ›› 2020, Vol. 40 ›› Issue (1): 89-96.doi: 10.13249/j.cnki.sgs.2020.01.011

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Quality of Residential Environment of Affordable Housing Estates in Guangzhou and Its Institutional Explanations

Wei Zongcai1, Zhen Feng2(), Qin Xiao2   

  1. 1. School of Architecture, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou 510641, Guangdong, China
    2. School of Architecture and Urban Planning, Nanjing University, Jiangsu Provincial Engineering Laboratory of Smart City Design Simulation & Visualization, Nanjing 210093, Jiangsu, China
  • Received:2018-12-28 Revised:2019-03-20 Online:2020-01-10 Published:2020-03-17
  • Contact: Zhen Feng
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(41801150);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41571146);China Postdoctoral Science Foundation(2017M610524);China Postdoctoral Science Foundation(2018T110868);Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province (2018A030310392)(2018A030310392)


To counter the serious housing unaffordability problem generated by housing marketization reforms, the central government of China has promulgated a policy of constructing large-scale affordable housing estates (AHEs) across the country. Nevertheless, the quality of residential environment of these housing estates is yet to be explored. Enhancement in the quality of residential environment of AHEs should be on the basis of an extensive grasp of institutional factors. The survey of AHEs indicates that the unfavorable physical environment of AHEs, generally due to their spatially and socially isolated locations, cannot satisfy the real needs of low-income households. This study found that in spite of the homogeneous socio-economic attributes of residents, the quality characteristics of AHEs between different periods were heterogeneous. Thus, this study enriches the researches in the quality of residential environment of low-income housing estates. This study also investigated the connection between quality of residential environment and institutional factors in the context of a transitional institutional environment. In brief, an institutional interpretation on the generation of similarities and differences in the livability patterns of AHEs between different periods in transitional China shows that the capricious institutional environment has brought about a unique urban landscape. This study argued that the built environments of AHEs were unfavorable. Similarly, residents' perceptions of quality of residential environment were unfavorable as well. Significant differences occurred in the provision of some categories of public facilities outside AHEs constructed in two different stages. The newly-built AHEs were more spatially disadvantaged, due to more unfavorable locations and fewer suitable job opportunities than the early ones. Furthermore, residents' subjective perceptions of quality of residential environment were similarly unfavorable between the AHEs of the two stages. It was found that the spatially and socially isolated locations cannot satisfy the real needs of low-income families. Moreover, some institutional factors, including the bureaucratic administrative system, inefficient negotiations among government departments, and government's pursuit of short-term economic benefits, have considerably affected the quality of residential environment of AHEs. Under the circumstance of a bureaucrat-led administrative system, the local governments pay more attention to undertaking political directives from the upper-level governments, which has facilitated the provision of affordable housing as opposed to matching the real needs of low-income residents. The low efficiency of building housing-related facilities, which was brought by significant departmental benefits, has hampered improvements to the quality of residential environment of AHEs.

Key words: quality of residential environment, affordable housing estates, institutional factors, Guangzhou

CLC Number: 

  • TU984