Miss Xin Yao

Research project: Participatory Design for Informal Settlements: An Alternative Transformation of China's Urban Villages


The urban village, one of China's most striking inequality phenomena. As an informal kind of settlement, it is a new type of space spawned by the old mixing with the new during the urbanization process. These settlements' social classes, facilities are different from those of the corresponding urban systems. Despite their problems and being regarded as negative spaces in the past, urban villages continue to provide immigrants with low-cost housing and affordable facilities, thereby playing an essential role in cities. The previous large-scale demolition and construction policies can no longer solve the problem, as they ignore the interests of residents and are believed to aggravate social inequality, affect the overall urban environment. If residents are engaged in the planning process of urban villages, and their urban narratives and spatial practices are all analyzed, this can mitigate the gap between migrant urban identities and their social stratum in cities.

  • Research degree: PhD
  • Title of project: Participatory Design for Informal Settlements: An Alternative Transformation of China's Urban Villages
  • Research supervisor: Dr Christoph Lueder
  • Other research supervisor: Dr Hager Weslati


My name is Yao Xin. I come from China. I finished my bachelor and master degree in Xiamen University. I studied interior and landscape design. During this period, I became interested in urban renewal and the increasingly prominent issue of urban villages. After graduating, I taught at a local Technical School for 8 years. I mainly taught interior design and some software lessons.

In my work experience, I have continued to be interested in urban villages and have gained new insights. Which is different from urban villages in developed countries, it contains many complex problems. My research point is how to define and enhance Chinese urban villages. By using participatory design replaces traditional demolish and reconstruct method.

Areas of research interest

  • urban village
  • spatial segregation
  • urban sprawl
  • informal settlements
  • traditional Chinese village
  • cultural heritage
  • urban narratives
  • Participatory Design


  • BA in Environmental Design, Xiamen University, China
  • MA in Art Design, Xiamen University, China