Green-Heart Urbanism in the Pearl River Delta: The Haizhu, Guangzhou Case

The site of this studio will be the 1200 ha. Wanmu Orchard, a key resource of the planned Haizhu Ecological District, situated in the centre of Guangzhou, the third largest Chinese city following Shanghai and Beijing.

The Haizhu District is situated in the center of the Pearl River Delta, a region which is both the alluvial plain of one of China’s three great River systems and the world’s largest urban agglomeration with over fifty million inhabitants. So the Wanmu orchard functions as a vital ecological space, and a strategic site within a complex of dynamic socio-natural networks –but it is currently challenged by rapid urban development at its edges. A planned Orchard Economic Zone is expected to focus on better cultivation and preservation of the orchards, historic restoration of Lingnan-style villages in Xiaozhou, and the development of agricultural eco-tourism. Students will be called upon to reimagine the Wanmu Orchard, as a ‘green heart’ of Guangzhou, embedded in a system of interconnected systems.

The studio will explore the potential of ‘negative planning’ as a means of designing urban landscapes, an approach that identifies three systems as primary elements of urban planning and design: 1) abiotic, geologic and hydrologic, systems; 2) biotic systems including both animal and vegetal communities, and 3) human cultural systems incorporating historical, aesthetic, recreational, and other systems.

The objectives of the studio are to: (1) develop regional and site-scale landscape and urban strategies (scenarios) for Haizhu based on analysis of the ecological and socio-economic context; and (2) develop alternative landscape and urban design proposals at a site-scale that respond to these regional development scenarios. There will be a weeklong site visit to Haizhu, Guangzhou at the early stage of the studio.

See the course iSites for a detailed schedule.