Adopting the 1-9-6-6 model (one central city, nine new cities, 60 new towns and 600 central villages), Shanghai’s 1999 ”One City, Nine Towns Development Plan and its tenth five year plan (2001-2005) contributed to the rapid development of a number of satellite locations in the city’s rapidly urbanizing outskirts. Songjiang New City, one of nine towns pegged for conversion into a satellite city for Shanghai underwent a dramatic transformation in this period. Its role as a means to alleviate pressure on the main Shanghai city center was reflected in its conceptualization not as a dormitory town but as a city center able to sustain itself both socially and economically. It also reflected an ambition for projected lifestyles that manifested in the transplantation of various development and neighborhood types that would borrow and adapt from numerous global sources, with the sprawling Thames Town (a one square kilometer residential development replicating English towns) being among the most visible exemplars. Part of this wider ambition, Songjiang University Town was also initiated to operate as the largest tertiary education hub in the country, offering Songjiang a clear role within this constellation of new towns and cities.

As part of the Health and Places Initiative research group at the GSD; the studio will engage with Songjiang New City as a means to speculate on the construction of urban environments that respond to projected and emerging lifestyles that are anticipated for Songjiang’s citizens. While being informed by wider scales, the studio will be invested in the systematic definition of urban environments at the smaller scale, focusing on the development of neighborhood models restrained to the scale of the typical Songjiang superblock. Through a focused study and investment at the neighborhood scale, the studio aims to provide proposals that offer urban models and prototypes with potential to operate as tools for restructuring the wider urban developmental patterns practiced within a number of Chinese contexts. We will strategize the ways in which architecture, landscape and urban design elements may be designed and arranged to allow for both enabling and expressing various projected and emerging lifestyle concerns, where amongst others; quality of life expectations and the rapid “graying” of Shanghai’s citizens may drive our speculations.

As part of the studio, a trip to Shanghai is scheduled for October 2014.