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Relational Urbanism Siamese Metropolises, a cartography of relations between Shenzhen and Hong Kong

Towards a Relational Onthology of Architecture and Urbanism. What if we have been asking ourselves the wrong questions all this time? The 90s witnessed the consolidation of two lines of discourse that underpinned the current disciplinary debate on cities: one that turned into a naïve materialist vision (both formal and ecological) and another that cynically denied the capacity of urbanism to have an impact on the shape of our cities, moving towards a practice of autonomous architecture as the last remaining bastion from where to speak about urban form. Perhaps not totally unrelatedly, this coincided with a period in which supranational institutions finally hyped the world up with the benefits of international trade; fuelling a geopolitical process that has increasingly exposed the city to compete globally with other cities. This new scenario has placed cities in a paradoxical situation: from a global perspective, international trade has indubitably brought benefits and a clear trend of cross-national convergence in standards of living; however, increasing disparities are now emerging at the scale of the urban region. These radical disparities have clear spatial

manifestations through various forms of contradictions such as the proliferation of urban gates, the exodus of prevalent socio-technical regimes and production systems from the cultural core of the city or the cohabitation of different urban groups with different opportunities, different experiences and living in different urban fabrics. However, current debates in architecture and urbanism have been unable to grasp this phenomenon. The ecological discourse has displaced any form of conflict from urban discussion, turning all problems into a matter of efficiency. Activism has been cast away from architectural design and relegated to the realms of quixotesque happening or exuberant forms of celebrity-clad philanthropy. Despite a long tradition of expertise “on the ground”, the discipline of architecture and urbanism has been cornered to deliver all “nice” forms of apolitical interventions. This has moved the discipline away from the critical question of the urban model. Perhaps all this separation between practice and position has been brought about by a narrow view of what the discipline is about. Either by an obsession with eco material formalisms or a sort of escapism towards cynicism, urbanism is left without moral grounds and methodological perspectives for the generation of future urban models. Due to a too myopic view of material reality or through an

What forms of representing and expressing best suit a relational ontology of reality? The Conflict of Integration The studio topic “The conflict of integration” calls attention to how certain dynamics linked to territorial integration both political and economic, has pursued the fragmentation of the space at the scale of the city. Since the end of the Second World War, the majority of countries have engaged in a process of openness to trade, putting significant efforts into attracting of foreign investment. However, when looking at how this has been implemented spatially, we can observe worldwide an increasing spatial fragmentation, the emergence of gated communities and other forms of city gates. The studio looks at how this takes place in the context of Shenzhen and Hong Kong. Understood in general terms, we can consider siamese as a “conjoined” condition, that of bodies which are physically tied together and that, while sharing vital organs, maintain distinct identities, personalities, and lines of consciousness. Conjoinment is the ultimate condition of divergence, opposition, and inescapable interdependency. As if bred in some sort of material and historical exception, the cities of Shenzhen and Hong Kongfit the definition of an urban conjoined existence. Born out of decades of political disjuncture, economic frenzy, boom and bust, both cities are

obsession with detachment from architectural discourse, the idea of relations and tensions between actors is simply an afterthought once the drawing is done. However, an alternative exists, and it may lie in the consideration of space as relational. Reality can be understood and defined as entities that prehend the relatedness with all other existing entities at any given moment, as already posited by Alfred North Whitehead. Relational perspectives of time and space grind pre formed dichotomies such as process versus object, subjectivity versus objectivity or autonomy versus immanence to catapult thinking into a preformal (and therefore prearchitectural) ontology. Yet if adopting a more Whiteheadian perspective of our engagement with reality seems perfectly possible as a valid form of theoretical construction, it remains to be seen whether architecture can take on such a challenge and develop the graphic mechanisms required for a relational type of project. What forms of spaces would derive from this experiment? At what scale would these relational spaces emerge?

How can these forms of representation push forward and influence the discourse in architecture and urbanism?

increasingly interdependent and antagonistic, engendering what can be called Siamese Metropolises. The interface between these two conjoined metropolitan bodies, the Shenzhen River, has come to describe the quintessential characteristics of Chinese urbanization, with the famous view of the rice paddies seen from Shenzhen CBD as a cliché representing the roaring growth of dense urban fabric in the face of a pristine rural tradition. However, the reality of urban living in that edge is far removed from aesthetics suggested by this image, with this river acting as a barrier for a working population crossing daily in search of higher salaries in the industries on the Hong Kong Peninsula. In this sense, the course explores the nature of relations between the two cities condemned to share economic, social and ultimately spatial ties. It asks what spaces a radical understanding of nature can fabricate in the process of conjoinment. It exploits the sense of limbo associated with frontiers in order to claim the need to explore the preconditions for an intensely contained nature, a model of an irrational form of natural density, pragmatic thickness and the ultimate source of specificity. Within this context, the studio focused on three subordinate topics.

GATES IN THE CITY The course will work with the tactical appropriation of the concepts of gate, frontier and boundary, exploring the pragmatics of new artificial ecologies, building transnational intelligences and cross=scalar territorial structures. The purpose is to make these gates visible and iconic, bringing the conflict of integration to the cultural and political discourse of the city. RURALIZATION Urbanization has been the main utopia when referring to progress and development. This has left urban production systems and other sociotechnical regimes without any reference when thinking about their future. Can we think about ruralization as a projected image for the future, an aspiration for development? TRANSBOUNDARY PRAGMATISM: A PROJECT FOR FLOATING POPULATIONS The growing exchange of populations between Shenzhen and Hong Kong is calling into question the outdated mechanisms of social control. Entire population groups with different rights, opportunities and experiences of the city share the same space. Is it possible to crystalize these differences in the form of a new urban icon?

Eduarco Rico and Enriqueta Llabres


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1.Weaver City

2.Border Control Belt

3.Synthesized City

4.Fish City

5.Branching City

by Jinlefu Su

by Han Lin & Haw Wei Liou

by Miao Zhang

by Polpat Nilubon

by Kangshuo Tang

How can different environments be connected without losing their original qualities?

How can an architectural intervention crystalize the conflict emerging in the border control area?

How can a University Town combine with villages to provide a new model able to contain urban sprawl?

How can the fishing industry be part of an urban project?

How can we balance urban development with existing rural activities?

Can new building types vary the principles of border transformations of gated communities?

How can the organization of the border adapt to different cross-border activities? Can architecture lose part of its autonomy but respond to a larger framework?

Can we integrate the spatial quality of urban villages with the university program to create spaces for learning and encounter?

What kind of built environment can exist between the intensive fish farming and a consolidated urban condition?

What types of buildings could become part of a structure that takes into account the natural resources and the rural characteristics of the landscape?

Can the conflict between Shenzhen and Hong Kong produce different gated conditions in the border territory?

Can we construct a relational interface that shows the conflict between urban villages and university towns?

Which rules for deploying building types can emerge from the relationships between different social groups and their spatial preferences?

Which scenarios result from the structuring of urban intervetions through the manipulation of wetlands, buffer zones, and building typologies?

Which specific tensions in the territory drive rural development?


Weaver City

00

50

250 250

500 500MM


Border Control Belt

30 0 0 050 50

250 150 250

500 MM 300 500 M


Synthesized City

30 0 0 050 50

250 150 250

500 MM 300 500 M


Fish City

00

50 25

250 125

500 250MM


Branching City

00

50

250 250

500 500MM


Weaver City

URBAN DEVELOPMENT ACCRODING TO FARMLAND OWNERS

URBAN DEVELOPMENT ACCRONDING TO VILLAGES INHABITANTS

URBAN DEVELOPMENT ACCRODING TO URBAN CITIZENS

network density

network density

development impact

development impact

owner of farmland

villagers

network density

citizens in urban area

owner of farmland

villagers

development impact

citizens in urban area

owner of farmland

relevant area

relevant area

relevant area

irrelevant area

irrelevant area

irrelevant area

network density

development impact

development impact

development impact

villagers

citizens in urban area

owner of farmland

villagers

citizens in urban area

owner of farmland

relevant area

relevant area

relevant area

irrelevant area

irrelevant area

irrelevant area

network density

villagers

villagers

citizens in urban area

network density

development impact

owner of farmland

citizens in urban area

network density

network density

owner of farmland

villagers

network density

development impact

development impact

citizens in urban area

owner of farmland

villagers

citizens in urban area

owner of farmland

relevant area

relevant area

relevant area

irrelevant area

irrelevant area

irrelevant area

villagers

citizens in urban area


Border Control Belt

sHENZHEN-HONG KONG ISOLATION

border strength

water network logistic network

sHENZHEN-HONG KONG COLLABORATION

border strength

water network logistic network

sHENZHEN-HONG KONG INTEGRATION

border strength

water network logistic network


Synthesized City

Proximity to water and green

Capacity proportion of programs

Proximity to water and green

Capacity proportion of programs

Proximity to water and green

Capacity proportion of programs

30 m

University<————>Village

45 m

University<————>Village

90 m

University<————>Village

Proximity to water and green

Capacity proportion of programs

Proximity to water and green

Capacity proportion of programs

Proximity to water and green

Capacity proportion of programs

30 m

University<————>Village

30 m

University<————>Village

30 m

University<————>Village

Proximity to water and green

Capacity proportion of programs

Proximity to water and green

Capacity proportion of programs

Proximity to water and green

Capacity proportion of programs

30 m

University<————>Village

30 m

University<————>Village

30 m

University<————>Village


Fish City

EDGE DEVELOPMENT

EDGE/CENTER BALANCED DEVELOPMENT

CENTER DEVELOPMENT

fish farm city(urban area)

fish farm city(urban area)

fish farm city(urban area)

fish farm city(urban area)

fish farm city(urban area)

fish farm city(urban area)

fish farm city(urban area)

fish farm city(urban area)

fish farm city(urban area)


Branching City

development from city node and costal area

development from city node and rural villages

tension between development and natural preservation

preserved area

preserved area

preserved area

developed area

developed area

start from infrastructure start from costal area

start from rural villages start from city node

urbanization degree natural preservation

start from infrastructure start from costal area

start from rural villages start from city node

urbanization degree natural preservation

developed area


Weaver City


Border Control Belt


Synthesized City


Fish City


Branching City


SIAMESE METROPOLISES