Jan 2019, Volume 6 Issue 6

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    Kongjian Yu

    Bamei, Yunnan is probably the last remaining “Peach Blossom Spring” in China, where rich fields and beautiful ponds are surrounded by mountains accessed only by boat, and people there live in peace and contentment. Although this is its reputation, when I last visited, it had changed beyond recognition. The reason may be that interest-driven developers and engineering companies have pursued local development, erasing so-called “economic benefits.” The pursuit of economic interests alone should not be blamed. Rather, understanding ecology and beauty together is the guarantee of further and greater economic benefits.

  • papers
    Galen NEWMAN, Dongying LI, Rui ZHU, Dingding REN

    Many urban areas affected by flood disasters are also becoming increasingly ecologically and socially fragmented due to the accumulation of vacant properties. While redevelopment is often viewed as the primary objective in regenerating vacant properties, they can also potentially provide ecological and hydrological land uses. Rather than chasing developmentbased incentives for regenerating vacant lots in high flood-risk communities, a balance should be sought between new developmental land uses and green infrastructure to help counteract stormwater runoff and flood effects, or “Resilience through Regeneration.” This paper uses landscape performance measures to evaluate the economic and hydrologic performance of green infrastructure regeneration projects for three marginalized neighborhoods in Houston, Texas, USA. Each project site is characterized by excessive vacant lots and flood issues. Results suggest that, when using green infrastructure to regenerate vacant properties, 1) flood risk continually decreases, 2) upfront economic costs increase in the short term (when compared to conventional development), and 3) the long-term economic return on investment is much higher.

  • papers
    Xiaodong XU, Yuchi SHEN

    In the context of China’s current policy-oriented Rural Rejuvenation movement, through case studies, the paper reviews protection and renewal strategies and approaches of traditional rural buildings, ranging from preservation and reshaping of traditional architectural formal elements and group characteristics, contemporary interpretation and application of traditional construction techniques, to introduction of semiindustrialized construction modes and new structural organizing approaches. Based on theoretical and technical studies of sustainability, this paper puts forward a new semi-industrialized intervention mode, called “micro-renewal,” which is more applicable for renewal practices in rural China. Finally, illustrating with an authentic micro-renewal case, the “Embedded House” in Dainan Town in Xinghua, Jiangsu Province, the paper demonstrates that this new semiindustrialized intervention offers a paradigm to strategies, techniques, and alternatives for future architectural renewal and protection in rural China.

  • Views & Criticisms
    Yumin YE

    In this interview, Ye Yumin, the interviewee, first clarifies basic concepts of Economics such as Urban Economics, a city’s economy, and industrial structure upgrading, and points out that, to most Chinese cities, the failure of industrial structure upgrading and new driving force fostering largely is due to their inadequate labor force structure. She argues that today’s primary task of China's urbanization is to ensure people’s overall well-being, encourage their activity and cultivate talents, accumulating human capital to support the continuous upgrading of industrial structure and developing new driving forces. Ye further argues that, in the age of Ecological Civilization, urban planners and designers play an important role in strengthening cities’ competitiveness with inclusive renewal and design concepts, while highlighting that China’s new reform of a Super-Ministry System is in line with contemporary needs to improve the overall competitiveness of the country in the future and to safeguard the public interests. Finally, by recognizing the application scopes of the both topdown Management mode and bottom-up Governance mode, Ye articulates that all problems in China’s PPP cases are caused by the poor credibility of both public and private parties, and a sound credibility system and mechanism is urgently required, which would define duties of both parties.

  • Views & Criticisms
    Wei LIN

    Landscape is a product of economic activities and an asset associated with a society’s productivity levels and the relations of production. Despite the range of projects —self-owned, for-sale,or public infrastructure — that designers undertake, life-cycle benefits such as rental returns and public satisfaction should always be considered. By interpreting landscape design as an asset management, this article highlights the third-party role of asset managers who coordinate the benefits of all stakeholders at different stages through negotiation of design options. Designers are also expected to have a product and user thinking, acquire general and interdisciplinary knowledge of certain businesses through role rotations, cross-department meetings, and diverse project teams to improve design proposals, and strengthen mechanisms of pre-occupancy engagement and post-occupancy evaluation.

  • Views & Criticisms

    Landscape has various economic values. However, Udo Weilacher, the interviewee, argues that most drivers of the global economic development do underestimate the wide range of non-economic values of landscape. He points out that public awareness on the values of landscape and environment somehow depends on the societal developing phase of a country, and hopes that developing countries would not go through the same developments that caused irreversible environmental damage, as what most developed countries did. Weilacher further reflects that the benefits of landscape cannot be economically calculated and landscape architects need to discuss environmental values beyond economic calculation. Finally, he argues that in the current college education of Landscape Architecture, economic aspects of landscape have not been emphasized enough, and landscape design has to be enthusiastic to overwhelm and fascinate people in order to persuade them to invest for environmental improvement.

  • Views & Criticisms
    Shengxuan ZHU

    In this interview, combining his career experience as an architect, a landscape architect, and an entrepreneur, Zhu Shengxuan, the interviewee, shares his insights on values and responsibilities of design. He argues that designers should coordinate the interests of all stakeholders and take public benefits into account, and believes that design can be better promoted as a product under a commercial thinking. Through an integration of design, construction, and operation, Zhu creatively introduces a combination of commercial thinking and design values to create a greater social influence. He also encourages addressing China’s rural revitalization with diverse, future-oriented concepts, and points out that the breakthrough of institutions may bring more economic benefits to rural locals.

  • Views & Criticisms
    Qingping ZHU

    Zhu Qingping, the interviewee, is a prominent expert in China’s watershed management. Starting with the modes of China’s watershed management and the changes of water management philosophy, Zhu emphasizes that watershed management often involves various factors, including public resources, infrastructure construction, ecosystems, historical and cultural traditions, and population, all of which shall be taken into consideration as a whole. The interview then goes to the management of the Yellow River Basin, where Zhu explains the impacts between river flows and urban development, suggests a great opportunity for development the cities in the lower reaches of Yellow River Basin have, and proposes an idea of building a national ecological and cultural belt along the river. He further argues that watershed management requires collaborations across industries, disciplines, and administrative regions and divisions. He also believes that public engagement and maintenance plays an important role in watershed management and an intelligent water / watershed management system needs to be established by networking integrated big-data platforms to facilitate a more intelligent and coordinated water resource management while better ensuring water security at varied scales.

  • Thematic practices
    Architects LOOK, Singapore Arup

    While rapid spread of urbanization brings dramatical economic growth to major cities worldwide, they are relentlessly eating up green spaces and farmlands essential to the ecosystem and environmental health, risking the common benefits for all lives with inbalanced development and putting a burden on contemporary Landscape Architecture to coordinate ecology and aesthetic with economy. By integrating design aesthetic and engineering efficiency, Fudao, a first-of-its-kind elevated steel walkway system in Fuzhou, China, addresses this challenge successfully by opening up a once desolated mountain area to the public with a minimum environmental disturbance achieved by an innovative design approach, which gains international attention.

  • Thematic practices
    DRAKE Susannah, SEGAL Rafi

    The project is a result of a national design competition in 2017, through which a team led by Susannah Drake and Rafi Segal was selected to contribute to the 4th Regional Plan for the New York Metropolitan area. Their proposed Bight: Coastal Urbanism project builds upon a systems-based landscape and urban design strategy to guide the transformation of the regional waterfront. Working in collaboration with colleagues in their offices and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), their project directly and proactively responds to the immense challenges of climate change, extreme storm events, and rising sea levels.

  • Thematic practices
    Chensi ZHAO, Kaixi LIU

    Offering an alternative planning and design strategy of renewals of low-density urban villages, this research estimates potentials of increasing a city’s accommodation capacity of low-skilled labor force through economic approaches like the Game Theories. A design idea of creating an “arrival city” is proposed in the prototypical study on the renewal of the Ganjiazhai Community, a typical urban village in Xi’an City, Shaanxi Province. Developing spatial patterns through a series of evidence-based deductions and estimations, this research forms a node-axis framework of urban planning and design that allows for an adaptive combination of spatial modules and encourages spatial sharing, which might shine a reference for future planning and design of urban villages in Chinese cities.

    Garofalo Francesco

    “Selva Central” is a rural area of Peru defined by high-altitude forest, whose economy is largely dependent on the coffee production. The effects of monoculture are both tangible and intangible, ranging from a weak single-commodity economy to the loss of the multifaceted cultural expertise and traditions of local communities. The area, in fact, produces coffee for global exportation, while is suffering shifting local agricultural patterns due to climate change.

    This article argues while unfolding “Altitudes” strategic project, how visualizing climate change, rethinking the supplychain, and understanding the local landscape as a vertical economy can highlight opportunities of moving beyond the monoculture of coffee, creating the conditions for newly (partially) self-sufficient local communities.

    Bellotti Giovanni, Leilani Main Kelly, Diana Ang, Alexander Wiegering Spitzer

    Industrial growth during the twentieth century, fueled by economies of extraction like coal mining, has produced severe environmental degradation and uniquely dispersed metropolitan areas. Silesia, a region of agglomerated mining towns in Southern Poland, is transitioning to a postextraction economy. Sulfur dioxide emissions and deposits of heavy metals altered the acidity of the land, making farming impossible. Terrain subsidence and slag heaps transformed the topography, forming new valleys and mountains. Over time, surface water bodies appeared, and a new forest grew. The Silesian forests remain a reflection, and also extension, of an extractive and extracted time.

    As forests often demarcate the boundaries of growth, embody narratives of preservationism, and retain the trauma of industrial processes, the Civic Forest addresses the forests of Silesia as a new “center,” one that is capable through their scale and complexity to confront the current challenges and ambitions of the post-extraction metropolis.