Designing Non-Stop Transformation: Shenzhen Studio

FRAMEWORKThe Shenzhen Studio is addressing the question of how designers may cope with fast transforming urbanistic conditions happening in the Pearl River Delta (PRD), and learning the new paradigms created by this extremely dynamic process.BACKGROUNDThe Pearl River Delta (PRD) region in China is constituted by a dense network of 11 cities with approximately 50 million inhabitants: Hong Kong and Shenzhen with 7 million each – even with very different characteristics-, are composing a very interesting \”twin cities\” system within the PRD. The region with only 0.4 percent of China\’s territory and with three percent of its population, it handles about a third of the country\’s total imports and exports. Over twenty percent of all foreign investments are held there. Besides Shanghai, it is China\’s most important link to the global economy. In the last decades, the Pearl River Delta region has gone through a considerable economic and demographic growth due to shifting political and economic conditions in the region. It is now a thriving example of market principles at work with more than 100,000 factories that make any imaginable product – from iPhones and flat screen TVs to cell phones and high fashion apparels – to meet the demands of consumers around the globe. This huge growth has consumed a lot of space and generated urban densification. The densification phenomenon, visible in Guangzhou, Hong Kong or Shenzhen, happened in parallel with an expansion phenomenon occurring along transportation corridors and town nodes. The site of the project -Huaqiangbei HQB District-, is located inside the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone (SEZ) established in 1979 between Hong Kong (First Boundary) to the South and Shenzhen City (Second Boundary) to the North. It is an important urban area where an electronic industry has prospered since its establishment in the mid-eighties. Today, HQB district has become an important economic driver. As the largest distributing center of electronic and information technology products in China, HQB is ranked first in terms of the turnover of electronic products and the operation area of the professional electronic market, among other competing areas in China: It is considered \”The Chinese Top One Electronic Sales Street.\”Beyond its production and commercial functions, Huaqiangbei district is an important public space for people in Shenzhen to feel and experience public life through a well-scripted assemblage of commercial platforms for enterprises and displays for media advertising, but also through a show stage for individuals creating a new type of civic space.STUDIO OBJECTIVE AND PEDAGOGIC AIMSThe studio will focus on the development of well configured strategies that can effectively tackle the continuous transformation of the site. From an industrial site into a mix use area, into a new centrality in the growing downtown of ShenzhenThe studio will specifically focus on the following issues: A. The rethinking of heterodox condition of fast growing economies – in terms of labor housing and working conditions- vis a vis with western standards.B. Understanding spatial consequences of this continuous changes process.C. Formalizing possible patterns to rationalize and enhance the transformation process. Models like: beautification process, Fun city, Creative city, Theme city…may help to visualize different actions.D. Explore design strategies for searching new models of centralities in the \”Twin cities\” system SH-HK.E. Define new programs and uses that can generate a well synthesized city fragment that is well connected to the city at large and provides fresh and innovative spaces within HQB boundaries. The studio will serve as a exploration of a variety of strategies that range from Urban Landscape to Urban Architecture allowing for Urban Design to act as a platform that synthesizes these diverse sc