Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

Urban Verticality Shaped by a Vertical Terrain: Lessons From Chongqing, China

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Abstract:  Urban studies have long been predominantly flat without a vertical dimension. This horizontal hegemony is partly embedded in the fact that many cities throughout the world, especially the centres of knowledge production, are plain cities. This article argues that even narrowing down urban verticality to high-rise buildings is still a product of horizontal hegemony. This article uses the city of Chongqing in China’s mountainous southwest as an example, to extend the understanding of urban verticality beyond high-rise buildings. By investigating three vertical urban projects, namely, the Raffles City, Hongyadong, and the Mountain City Footpath system, the article reveals how vertical terrain, as a vertical element, shapes Chongqing’s urban planning, urban governance strategy, and people’s experience in the city. As a counter experience to horizontal urbanism, verticality both constitutes part of local people’s ordinary living experience and a spectacular experience for outsiders, which has been mobilised by the local government for place-making and city branding.

Keywords:  China; Chongqing; Hongyadong; Mountain City Footpath; mountainous; Raffles City; terrain; urban verticality; vertical city



© Yi Jin. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.