Common Frameworks

Rethinking the Developmental City in China

“We believe passionately that those cities that are positioned to excel in this time of global change are pursuing broad, integrated strategies to tap hidden value, celebrate ecology and culture, attract people and investment and overcome financial and operational inefficiencies to define success.” – AECOM

The Harvard GSD AECOM Project on China is a three-year research and design project premised on two fundamental ambitions: recuperating an idea of the city and pursuing alternative forms of urbanization in response to the challenges posed by the developmental city in China. The former treats the project of the city as a cultural, political, and aesthetic act; the latter views the city as a site for urbanization, articulated through architecture, landscape, and infrastructure. This endeavor is analytical and propositional in equal measure.

Each year, the Project on China focuses on a theoretical problem and practical challenge posed by the model of the developmental city in China, using a particular city as an exemplar. The first year focuses on the problem of the megaplot, the basic planning unit for rapid and speculative urbanization, using Xiamen as a case study. The second year investigates the challenges faced by cities in city-regions and the effects of cross-border urbanization, with Macau as the paradigm. The third year examines the status of the countryside in the context of state-driven initiatives to urbanize rural areas, with a focus on existing villages and in-progress new agricultural towns.

Project Team: Christopher C.M. Lee (PI), Mohsen Mostafavi, Simon Whittle, Peter G. Rowe, Rahul Mehrotra, Piper Gaubatz, and Jianfei Zhu.