Each country has a unique history and culture, and this ‘uniqueness’ influences the way of life of everyone in the region. I have explored this ‘uniqueness’ in Newcastle in this course. This uniqueness is most visibly demonstrated by the spatial standards associated with architecture between different regions and countries.
I will start with what I can visually see from my own experience. Compared to the UK, most Chinese people prefer larger rooms and larger furniture. Therefore, it seems to me that the size of houses and furniture in the UK is somewhat on the small side. For example, the standard range of bed sizes in the UK is larger than in China. But for all the Chinese people I know in the UK, including all the Chinese people I know studying in the UK, the size of the bed is Standard Single, Standard Double, King (width between 90cm and 152cm) in both houses and flats. The beds in China are either 180cm wide or 150cm wide (no difference in length). The bed I am currently living in is the Standard Double bed. For me, the double bed only sleeps me alone, and with two people sleeping in it, this double bed is a bit difficult. The size of the bed affects the size of the bedroom, so most people coming from China feel that the rooms here are small and feel “cramped”.
There are also some small differences in life, as many people in China prefer to sleep on a hard wooden bed with a cushion. However, most all beds in the UK have thick cushions and are too soft for some Chinese people (including me). This also affects the height of the bed, which is higher in China than in the UK, and this is if the bed is not even padded. (GOV.UK., 2015)
Of course, it’s not just the size of the bedroom that makes the difference, in general, the indoor living area in the UK is smaller than the indoor floor space in China.
Miraculously, the Chinese housing code does not specify the building size of a house, only the approximate population size: Neighbourhoods are the basic units of a residential area and can be divided into three different levels From a spatial point of view, they are spatial ranges with a radius of 300m, 500m and From a spatial point of view, they are spatial ranges with a radius of 300m, 500m, and 1000m, encompassing different sizes of the residential population. The corresponding residential population sizes are 1000-3000, 5000-12000, 15000-25000 and 50,000-100,000 respectively. (Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, 2018)
UK regulations for housing are even more specific: 1. a single room with a minimum area of 7.5 square meters and a minimum width of 2.15 meters. 2. a double bedroom with a minimum area of 11.5 square meters and a bedroom with a width of 2.75 meters and another double bedroom with a width of at least 2.55 meters.
Outdoor communal green space is much larger in the UK than in China. The majority of households in the UK live in houses in 80% of cases and in flats in 20% of cases. In contrast, over 90% of households in China live in very compact flat houses. The population density in the UK is much lower than in China, resulting in a higher greening rate in UK cities than in China. (GOV.UK., 2022)
Even the design of a small room needs to take full account of the personal habits and ideas of the occupants of that room. Not to mention the huge cities. Not only do you have to comply with legal codes, but you also need to explore an elusive range of habits and cultural differences. It’s all a matter for the designer to consider.
GOV.UK. （2022）English Housing Survey Headline Report, 2020-21. [online] Available at: <https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/english-housing-survey> [Accessed 10 April 2022].
Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development（2018） Planning and Design Standards for Urban Residential Areas GB50180-2018. Beijing: China Academy of Urban Planning and Design, p. 3-7. （《城市居住区规划设计标准》）
GOV.UK. (2015) Technical housing standards – nationally described space standard. [PDF] London: GOV.The UK, pp.3-5. Available at: <https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/technical-housing-standards-nationally-described-space-standard> [Accessed 16 April 2022].