Evolution of the Pearl River Delta

Chance encounters w/the elevated landscapes of Guangzhou, near Zhu Jiang New Town

Spent the past week exploring events/meeting urban enthusiasts in and around the Pearl River Delta (PRD).  Roughly ten years ago, Koolhaas (and the GSD) recognized this region of China to be the generator of the “city of exacerbated difference” (Project on the City).  He referred to city building as an opportunity to engage in urban design at many different levels and through a variety of different cultures.  A decade later, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong have continued city building at a rate and scale that deserves further investigation.  In a sense, they have been completely transformed, re-imagined, and re-appropriated by a new population.  Within the last ten years, Hong Kong’s northern territories are infilled with new towns, Guangzhou is constructing a new city axis and public attractor weighted heavily with what LA architecture critic, Frances Anderton, raises as “architectural excess” and Shenzhen has a burgeoning new art’s district (the Overseas Chinese Territory, or OCT) inhabited by (basically) returning expats.  The delta region, due to its unique location geographically, economically, and politically, is the leading model for new cities in China.  I set out to the Shenzhen/Hong Kong biennale, themed “City Mobilization,” to find out if the fruits of this labor are applicable to a wider venue abroad.

Landscape urbanism mediates sporting venue and housing in the OCT, Shenzhen

At the opening day activities, Shenzhen/Hong Kong Architecture and Urbanism Biennale, Shenzhen’s Civic Square, main venue

Biennale theme: City Mobilization

Tessellated  urbanism, subdivide surface realized.  Saw works in-progress in the PRD, including Zaha Hadid’s Guangzhou Opera House (pictured), SOM/Smith+Gill’s Pearl River Tower, and OMA’s Stock Exchange in Shenzhen.  See flickr for more.

On the Pearl River


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