Enhancing the Quality of Life for Factory Workers in China through Landscape Design

Open Access
Wei, Sandy
Area of Honors:
Landscape Architecture
Bachelor of Landscape Architecture
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Hong Wu, Thesis Supervisor
  • Larry James Gorenflo, Honors Advisor
  • Factory
  • China
  • Landscape Architecture
China is well-known as the exporting country. This reputation brought not only economic prosperity but also a land of factories. Often, the advantages that come along with the factories, such as economic activity and employment, momentarily hide the shortcomings. With time, both environmental and social problems, such as pollution and poor mental health among factory workers, arise and become long-term issues. Whereas there have been increasingly more governmental regulations in recent years to address the heightened environmental concerns of factories, no standards exist so far that guarantee the working and living quality of factory workers. Factories, particularly those small-scale, low-tech, and labor-intensive ones, were often designed and built on extremely limited budgets, only to satisfy the basic operational needs. Most of the factory spaces is dedicated to production facilities and vehicular circulation, leading to a monotonous landscape, with little to no greenery and outdoor activity spaces to accommodate recreational uses. Because these factories serve as both the working and living spaces for the workers, improving their outdoor environment is very critical to the physical and mental health of the workers, which have been documented by studies to be less than desirable than other urban residents. This thesis is a research-based landscape design project that attempts to set a model for small-scale manufacturing factories in China. Using the redesign of a zipper factory as an example, I illustrate transferable design strategies that can improve the life quality of the factory workers. The design aims to incorporate methods that deconstruct and diversify the monotonous landscape by introducing new design features, such as outdoor gathering spaces, vertical green walls, and planters. These strategies present a cost-effective, easy-to-implement, and low maintenance solution to ameliorate the living and working conditions of factory workers that could be applied to other similar small-scale factories in China.