Urban Hinterlands

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Studio Instructor(s)

Calvin Chua

Program: Housing & Production

Scale: 15 km 2

Site: Guangzhou, China

Urban hinterlands are the thresholds between the urban and the rural. Once clearly defined by a city wall or ring roads, today the borders are increasingly blurred given the increasing pressure in absorbing the rural into the urban. This condition is particularly evident in mega regions, such as the Pearl River Delta, where once clearly defined cities have slowly merged into a single urbanized entity. Focusing on the peri-urban areas of the Guangzhou Knowledge City, located between the 2nd and 3rd ring road planned by the local government, the studio developed various proposals for a series of settlements, each supporting 2000 inhabitants – the typical size of a village.

Going beyond the typical real estate typologies of residential, commercial or mixed-use, students invented new spatial products and typologies that respond to evolving socio-economic conditions – new industries, changing modes of production, changing social demographics – and their resultant physical manifestations – urban villages, resettlement villages, abandoned agricultural fields and mega infrastructural lines.

Working at the intersection between the scale of architecture and urbanism, each group developed specific architectural elements that addressed issues of spatial ownership, resource sharing and the relationship between the private and the common. While on the urban scale, the projects respond to the infrastructural, topographical, ecological and hydrological conditions.

The studio began with a collective territorial research on Guangzhou Knowledge City and the wider context, followed by an on-site analysis in Guangzhou. Supporting the studio were a series of lectures and workshops by practitioners, policy makers and academics working on peri-urban and agricultural issues. These organisations include: Ascendas-Singbridge, Centre for Livable Cities, Future+ Aformal Academy, Guangzhou Planning Institute, Hong Kong University, South China University of Technology and SUTD HASS department.


Work 1

Work 2