GEOGRAPHICAL RESEARCH ›› 2018, Vol. 37 ›› Issue (4): 834-846.doi: 10.11821/dlyj201804016

• Articles • Previous Articles    

Humanity-oriented place making in S&T innovation districts: International best practices and the implications

Jing LIN1,2,3(), Jianming CAI1,2,3(), WEBSTER Douglas4, MULLER Larissa5   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. Key Laboratory of Regional Sustainable Development Modeling, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    3. School of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    4. School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, Arizona State University, Tempe 85287, USA
    5. Faculty of Environmental Design, University of Calgary, Calgary T2N1N4, Canada
  • Received:2017-10-18 Revised:2018-01-27 Online:2018-04-20 Published:2018-05-28
  • About author:

    Author: Shi Zhenqin (1988-), PhD, specialized in regional development and land space management in mountain areas. E-mail:

    *Corresponding author: Deng Wei (1957-), Professor, specialized in mountain environment and regional development.



Of the urban economy and city competitiveness, innovation districts have increasingly become the most important component, particularly in the current era when science and technology (S&T) are emerging as the dominant and even decisive factors in driving the innovative economic development and urban vitality. Therefore, this paper tries to identify the common elements, benchmark and principles for the effective place making of S&T innovation districts, through the systematic review of the three international innovation districts, i.e., 22@Barcelona in Europe, Boston Innovation District in North America and One North Innovation District in Asia. The three best practices above prove that the humanity-oriented place making has become a major trend in successful S&T innovation district development, with the essence to meet various kinds of human needs to a maximized extent in terms of their life stages and hierarchy of needs, as well as by integrating the selected key elements to further give full play to their functional mechanism. The comparative study of the three best practices concludes that seven key elements, i.e., creative talent, enterprise cluster, enabling infrastructure, supportive financing, operational management, spatial structure and cultural ambience, should be identified and deemed as a whole system for making and promoting a well-performed S&T innovation district. Aligned with the analysis, the paper puts forward some implications to high-quality development of China's S&T innovation districts in the following five aspects: (1) vision-based sustained nurturing; (2) forward-looking positioning; (3) humanity-oriented spatial arrangement; (4) innovation-inspired activities programming; (5) multi-stakeholder participation. Lastly, the paper proposes that the systematic research should be conducted in the four aspects, i.e., how to identify the human needs in holistic way by their development stages; how to effectively integrate culture into place feeling and experience; how to construct a multi-dimensional habitat environment; how to brand the uniqueness and specificity of various types of innovation districts, in an aim to form an integrated theory on humanity-oriented place making.

Key words: S&T innovation districts;, humanity-oriented, international best practices, place making, implications, mechanism