During the past few decades, China has experienced several institutional changes, which have provided a distinctive background for its urban spaces to restructure. In the planned economic era, despite the strong influence of the USSR, the unique “Danwei” system was created to reflect the state of affairs of the country. A Danwei or work unit is not only a place of employment, but also provides welfare benefits such as housing, education, and health care for employees and their families. Workplace, housing, and facilities needed for daily life are usually built inside one gated enclosure, a Danwei compound, which became the basic spatial unit of urban China. Such proximity between workplace and residence indicates that a clear suburban residential area in the Western sense had not existed during the pre-reform era. Thus, urban spaces were formed to a unique cellular structure, which distinguishes itself from not only models considered in Western cities, but also socialist cities in Eastern Europe. Following reforms and opening-up, the land market started to develop from the late 1980s. Spatial differences in land prices led to a massive shift in land use, including the relocation of low-profit factories away from city centers, and the emergence of central business districts in big cities. In the late 1990s, the commercialization of housing was promoted. Welfare housing allocated by Danwei has been converted into private ownership, and suburban areas started to spring up with the new construction of commoditized housing. Under this process, a separation between home and work started to take place in urban China. Thus, suburban residential areas in the Western sense, with residents commuting long distances to a city center, have finally come into existence. However, due to government regulations on the development of low-density detached housing, this emerging suburban growth is dominated by mid- to high-density collective housing developments. In this sense, it is inaccurate to claim that residents of suburban China changed their ways of living to the distinctive suburban lifestyles found in “typical” Western or Japanese suburbs.