Landscape and Ecological Urbanism: Alternatives for Beijing City Northwest

The Beijing Alternatives Studio Series OverviewBeijing, China is one of the fastest developing regions in the world and among the most challenging places for the study and practice of urbanism and landscape architecture. In the past 30 years, the area of the city has expanded 700%, the population has doubled to 17 million, and both population and land consumption will continue to expand. As development continues, pressing challenges include: rapid environmental degradation, severe water shortages and pollution, crippling transportation and mobility restrictions, loss of cultural identity, etc. As part of a multi-year research and design program, the studio series will explore the most advanced critical thinking regarding landscape and urban planning and design, especially theories and methods of ecological sustainability and landscape urbanism. These theories and methods will be evaluated across multiple sites and scales when exploring alternative future scenarios for the Beijing metropolitan area. The Beijing Alternatives Studio Series will be carried out in cooperation with Peking University, Beijing Land Bureau and Beijing Planning Bureau.The 2010 Spring Studio: \”Beijing Northwest\”The 2010 Spring Studio will focus on alternative futures for the hilly urban fringe of Northwest Beijing, which is under severe development pressure because of rapid urbanization in the surrounding region. The site is located at the foot of the West Hills covering an area of 80 km2, has a population of 30,000, and is famous for its beautiful landscape, unique native community, cultural heritage, vernacular landscape, and rich biodiversity. The site also has a very fragile ecosystem, an environmentally sensitive mountain ecology, and is located over a critical recharge zone for the aquifer. As development is inevitable, questions regarding \”What kind(s) of development and how do we maintain the area\’s culture and heritage,\” and \”Where and how can we balance development and conservation\” become the main concerns of the municipal and local governments — and is the focus of this planning and design studio. Students are expected to: (1) perform site analysis integrating various techniques including GIS, and social and economic questionnaires; (2) develop various urban and landscape strategies for the region based on thorough analysis of the landscape and ecosystems, social economic context, and regional and global comparative studies; (3) develop alternative landscape and urban design strategies for one village in the region using each of the scenarios which has been cultivated through the team\’s site analysis. Course organization and scheduleStage I (3 weeks) (January 25 – February 12): Landscape inventory and analysisStage II (4 weeks) (February 15 – March 12) : Development Scenarios aStudents will work in teams to develop various scenarios for the 80 km2 area, based on the landscape and social and economic analysis of the site and its context.Week of March 15, Pending Site Visit to Beijing:Travel to Beijing – to get an overview of the city\’s urban environment and then become familiar with the project site\’s physical landscape. Site analysis will be comprised of natural, social, economic, historical and cultural processes. GIS and computer modeling techniques will be an integral process for inventory and analysis. Stage III (6 weeks) (March 22 -April 27): Development Design Strategies Individually, students are expected develop design strategies for each of the scenarios that have been developed by their teams. A final presentation will be given at Beijing and Harvard GSD, respectively. Methods of Evaluation: – Attendance on field trip, all classes, and working in studio – Attendance of all class reviews is mandatory – Performance in Studio: (1) effort and engagement; (2) ability to handle complex planning and desi