Adaptive Urban Hillscapes


Balancing the Ecological Effects of Anthropogenic Occupation of Hills


Yue Zhu (M.Sc.)

Arshad Syed (M.Arch. with Distinction)

Xiaoxiao Luo (M.Arch. with Distinction)

Diego Valdivia (M.Arch. with Distinction)

2015 – 16


Recent studies reveal that by the year 2030, roughly 70% of the total population of China will live in cities, most likely in megacities like Beijing, Shanghai or Shenzhen. This impending phenomenon points not only to a population density and spatial issue, but also to the food and water supply affecting billions of people. While the prosperous city of Shenzhen has certainly been a migrant magnet for the past thirty years, concerns are emerging regarding identifying new supply sources to sustain city development. Yet it is worth analyzing and taking into account the amount of territory that uncontrolled urban sprawl has appropriated from green areas and arable land, as the challenge for future city planning comes now with the demand to regain food supply sources to sustain those burgeoning populations. At the same time, the predicted shortage of buildable land has become an existing problem, pushing urban growth towards unsuitable hilly terrains in a region where daily intense rainfall has been always a menace capable of triggering landslide hazards. Considering the amount of territory that urban sprawl has appropriated from hillside green areas, city planning comes today with the challenge of regaining supply sources and balancing the ecological effects of anthropogenic alteration of hill landscape. Based on this scenario, this dissertation addresses the possibility of proposing an urban system adapting its components in a synchronic way such that human activity coexists with natural phenomena, all the while taking advantage of ecological forces for new sources of supply.