Landscape and Ecological Urbanism Alternatives for Sujiatuo, Beijing
Coordinator: Stephen Ervin
Instructor: Stephen Ervin Book Layout: W. de Miguel Moyer Publisher: Harvard University Graduate School of Design, 2010
Sponsors: Harvard China Fund
Beijing, China is one of the fastest developing urban regions in the world and among the most challenging places for the study and practice of urbanism and landscape architecture. In the past 30 years, the city's area has expanded by 700%, the population has doubled to 17 million, and both population and land consumption will continue to rise. As development continues, pressing challenges include: rapid environmental degradation, severe water shortages, soil desertification, pollution, crippling transportation and mobility restrictions, and erasure of cultural identity. The studio focused on alternative futures for Suijiatuo, a township in the hilly urban fringe of Northwest Beijing, which is under severe development pressure due to rapid urbanization. The township of Sujiatuo, composed of several villages and covering an area of 100 km2, is famous for its beautiful landscape, agricultural production, unique cultural heritage, and rich biodiversity. While 300,000 people inhabit the basin terrain in Sujiatuo, development is only now expanding up the mountainsides. This development must address the site's complex conditions that include a critical aquifer recharge zone, sensitive biophysical systems, large-scale climatic issues, as well as economic development and the future of the agricultural communities that live there. As development is inevitable, the questions: What kinds of development should occur? How do we maintain the area's culture and heritage? and finally, Where and how can we balance development and conservation?