Sprawl, post-industrialisation, rapid urbanisation and ‘natural’ disasters pose significant challenges to normative design practice, requiring an approach beyond the quick fix. Landscape Urbanism has emerged as a new discipline which responds to the demands of these conditions. Here, ‘landscape’ is a model of connective, scalar and temporal operations through which the urban is conceived and engages a complex ecology.
Landscape Urbanism integrates techniques from environmental engineering, urban strategy and landscape ecology and employs the science of emergence, the tools of digital design and the philosophy of political ecology.
Prototypical Urbanities 03: The Yangtze River Delta
China’s economic boom, combined with migration from the countryside, produces new cities instantly and transforms the faces of older towns. This directional urbanisation has brought the phenomenon of globalisation, its foreign capital and generic architecture, to the smallest villages.
Expanding on research established over the past two years, LU maintained its focus on China’s ambitions to build 400 new cities by the year 2020 – with 12 million people expected to move from rural to urban locations – as the basis for its brief. Far from resisting this development, we engaged opportunistically with ‘proto-strategies’ for new large-scale agglomerations as a means to critically address mass-produced urban sprawl. Our testbed was the Yangtze River Delta, including Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Ningbo.
Students explored the three following issues.
Metabolic rurbanism: Explore modes of urbanisation emergent from the ‘desakota’ fabric in which urban and rural processes of land use are combined.
Tactical resistance: Locate fault lines in the clash between top-down masterplanning and developed urban cores, where informed and territorially specific urbanism might be produced.
Material identities: Explore infrastructure as a material alternative to prevailing urban settlements with an instant ‘identity’, based on either vernacular or western styles of building, in the context of ‘post-traditional’ urbanisation.