The Supergrid and Superblock together constitute a grid-and-cell urban structure that is especially evident in China and Japan. The Supergrid is a large-scale net of wide roads that defines a series of cells or Superblocks, each containing a network of narrower streets. While common in both countries, there are no comparative morphological studies. As a crucial contribution to urban design, this thesis places the structures in their cultural contexts and examines them against a group of post-1960 theories that focus on interrelationships between urban structure and functions. Here, they are synthesized as ‘Interconnection theory’ and the source of qualitative and quantitative methods (including Space Syntax) used to examine form-function interrelationships by understanding levels of Integration, Connection and Interaction in two Superblocks in each country. Particular emphasis is on the relationships between street networks and distribution of functions/activities.
Primary research findings indicate that 1) Supergrid/Superblock systems are strongly rooted in Eastern culture, with Supergrid systems providing multi-directional global movement across wide urban areas in both countries. 2) However, the work reveals different types of street structures and functional patterns within Superblocks, with (Chinese) ‘wall’ and (Japanese) ‘floor’ spatial conceptions underlying differences.
3) These differing internal structures within the Superblocks have a deterministic impact on the spatial distribution of human activities. Clear but divergent patterns are displayed in the Superblocks with strong interrelationships between the street network and distribution of activities in the Japanese cases but less distinct ones in the Chinese: this is linked to China’s wall and gate structure that is absent in Japan.