Peri-urban Development in China: Alternatives for the Landscape of Southeast Beijing

This planning and design studio will focus on alternative landscape/urban futures for the town of Taihu (Taihuzhen), located at the low-lying southeastern periphery of Beijing, just inside the Sixth Ring Road. The study area comprises 22 villages in a patchwork of residential clusters, ad-hoc industrial development, and agricultural lands, including wetlands and ponds used for lotus root production. Much of this area, formally designated as a \”green wedge\” in Beijing\’s Comprehensive Plan, is now undergoing rapid development and population growth. The Beijing-Tianjin High-Speed Railway traverses the site with a recently completed station at the center of the town; construction of a massive \”new community\”, as well as a tourism / recreation-oriented townscape, have both been proposed. Studio participants will be required to reconcile competing demands and realities – social, ecological, economic, hydrologic, aesthetic, et al. — in their visions for alternative futures. The outcomes of the studio will be twofold: broad district-level proposals, involving integrated landscape, urban, and architectural strategies within the larger Beijing Metropolitan Region; and site-specific proposals particularizing those strategies on the ground in Taihuzhen. The studio will proceed through 4 sequential / overlapping stages:I. Site Analysis (Group)II. Precedent / Case Studies (Group)III. Comprehensive Regional/District Strategies (Individual ) – MidTerm IV. Site Specific Proposals and Projects (Individual ) – Final ReviewThere will be a site visit to Beijing and the study area from February 18th to February 26th, 2011.Schedule: Kongian Yu, who will set the tone for the studio and coordinate all connections and communications with China, including a ten-day field trip in late February, will be at the GSD on four different occasions (start of studio, final review, and two in between). His schedule each time will allow for desk crits with all studio participants over several days. Co-instructors Peter Rowe, Stephen Ervin, and Mark Mulligan will all be at the GSD for the entire spring semester and majority of class sessions, but each will necessarily miss several studio sessions. There will usually be two of the three available for desk crits on all studio days. Hailong Liuin Yu, Visiting Scholar, will also play an advisory role in the studio.