Pearl River Delta (China)
Architects: NODE Architecture & Urbanism
Text by Doreen Heng Liu, NODE Architecture & Urbanism
Born and raised in China’s Pearl River Delta city of Guangzhou, I have been practicing and teaching in several different cities in the PRD for a decade. Therefore my project’s course of investigation is shaped by my observation of the region over a long period of time. Booming with urban agglomerations and 42.3 million people over a total area of 41,698 square kilometers (16,100 square miles), the PRD is rapidly growing into China’s largest megalopolis. It encompasses many cities, including four major urban centers: the city of Guangzhou with its more than 2000-year history, the thirty-year-old instant city of Shenzhen, the former British colony of Hong Kong, and the former Portuguese colony of Macao.
Located in southern China, the PRD is geared toward massive industry, which is supported by massive mobility infrastructure. The results of these investments are the region’s massive contributions to the country’s economic boom of the past three decades. However, new demands for industrial transformation, sustainable development, and social and spatial change in its cities, as well as a shift toward information and knowledge as the new "goods," are forcing the region to reimagine its future.
In its current form, the PRD’s infrastructure—dense waterway, highway, road, and train systems that offer easy intercity connections—serves as a key to understanding the logic of rapid industrialization and urbanization in the region. Electronic goods, textiles and plastic products produced in the region’s factories are shipped overseas or transported inland every day, thanks to efficient transportation infrastructure. Our point of departure for the project is to investigate opportunities within the existing types of infrastructures in the PRD, and the world at large, and refine them in relation to the mobility of goods and people. Our ultimate goal is to seek new sets of identities for the PRD in its “post-sweatshop” era. We intend to investigate possible routes to a better life for all of its citizens, while acknowledging the fragmented, changing, and uncertain nature of the megalopolis.