“Mutualism”, in a biological explanation, refers to the way two organisms of different species exist in a relationship in which each individual benefits from the other. Case studies in this research show how a mutualistic relationship have been achieved, in which both the mixed-use development (MXD) and urban space benefit from each other - while large-scale MXD benefits from the urban space within it, urban space have been introduced and certain qualities of it are enhanced through the process of large-scale MXD. The “urban mutualism” discovered in this research indicates the fact that large-scale MXD can become a feasible mode of urban space provision, in which both critical stakeholders of government and developers are motivated. This research identifies three essential aspects of factors in the process of large-scale MXD, which contribute to an “Urban Mutualism“, that are:

1) “Shared qualities” - Urban qualities needed by large-scale MXD to achieve its development objectives;

2) “Supporting mechanisms” - logics and rules involved in the process of large-scale MXD, that can be utilized in realizing the desired

      urban spaces and qualities while also contributing to the success of the large-scale MXD project; 

3) “Techniques“ - innovative strategies contributing to the creation of urban spaces and urban space qualities.  


The following diagram shows how these factors co-contribute in achieving urban space qualities in the process of large-scale MXDs.

Shared Qualities

Large-scale MXDs need and can benefit from certain urban spaces and qualities to achieve their development objectives. First, large-scale MXD itself thrives on multi-functionality and qualities of a comfortable, secured and maintained pedestrian environment and good connectivity with urban transportation network, and communication. Second, as a system, large-scale MXDs inevitably necessitate physical spaces with certain urban qualities for achieving its desired functionality and development objectives. This research identifies four types of potential urban spaces within large-scale MXDs: type I. Common space within use component, type II. Public/civic use component, type III. Primary organizing space and type IV. Law-defined public open space. Each type of these spaces needs, or is attached with, certain urban qualities to achieve their intended role or core functions within the large-scale MXD project, which contribute to the overall market success of the development. These “shared qualities”, which are simultaneously contributive to both urban space and the success of large-scale MXD, bring about fundamentally the motivation of makers in introducing urban spaces and qualities in the creation of large-scale MXDs.

Supporting Mechanisms

The making of large-scale MXD projects involves mechanisms (logic and rules) that can be utilized in realizing the desired urban spaces and urban qualiti es while also contributing to the success of the large-scale MXD project. Such mechanisms are on one hand bound up with the nature of large-scale MXDs and on the other hand enabled by the broader context in which a large-scale MXD is situated. Based on these mechanisms, making and shaping activities and strategies can be developed to introduce urban spaces and urban qualities to an MXD project and support the achieving of the “urban mutualism“. Supporting mechanisms related to the nature of large-scale MXD are caused by the essential characteristi cs of large-scale MXD, which include unusual size, multiple uses and being simultaneously a coherently planned real-estate product, urban project (part of the city) and man-made artifact:


The “techniques”, or innovative making and shaping strategies can also contribute to the creation of urban spaces and urban space qualities. While satisfying the “shared qualities”, innovative strategies can be developed based on the “supporting mechanisms“ to bring about, or promote other aspects of urban space qualities, bringing extra qualities than initially intended and conceptualized to a large-scale MXD project and space within it. As such, the “techniques” provide potentials for achieving urban space and qualities beyond the urban qualities necessary for large-scale MXD. “Techniques“ contribute to introducing urban space into the MXD and/or promoting the qualities of urban space within an MXD. They can be developed for different stages (initiation, conceptualization,

implementation operation and use) and aspects in the making of large-scale MXD projects, including activities of both the intervenor and (direct) makers. Generally concluded and suggested, “techniques“ in the different stages should be made towards following key tasks:

urban architecture mixed-use development mutualism hybrid space research

Urban Mutualism | Yang Li 

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