‘Third Front’ construction in China : planning the industrial towns during the Cold War (1964–1980)

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1149-1171
Number of pages23
Journal / PublicationPlanning Perspectives
Issue number6
Online published16 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


As a strategic adjustment to China’s national defence, economic and construction policy for military purposes, the ‘Third Front’ construction programme (1964–1980) had a profound impact on the country’s industrial layout and urban-rural relation. The built environment of this era represents the spatial orientation and strategy of China’s ‘road to socialism’ during the Cold War. Through a historical review and field investigation, this study summarises the characteristics of Third Front construction with reference to the ‘new socialist industrial mining bases’ that emerged from the paradigm shift in China’s urban planning. By analyzing spatial patterns and the language of spatial design from a historical perspective, this study sheds light on China’s socialist architectural and planning discourse and supplements the existing scholarship on Cold War architectural historiography.

Research Area(s)

  • Third Front construction, Cold War architecture, socialist construction, military urbanism