Edge Strategies

Balanced Frontiers for Urban Ecological Regeneration


The Team






The Quest

In the last decades, the Greater Bay Area became one of the world’s most progressive and dynamic economic regions. This caused significant and rapid urban expansion that led to an excessive consumption of resources. Imbalanced and immoderate urbanization has causes severe environmental issues for cities, and disconnects their citizens from natural surroundings. In the Pearl River Delta, especially the rising sea level and connected issues of flooding, greater damage from storms, faster rates of erosion, and shrinking freshwater resources are posing concrete and urgent risks. Furthermore, ecological areas in the GBA are shrinking continuously, putting essential ecosystem services of the region at stake. Therefore, the development of mega cities must overcome environmental instabilities and failures of the ecological system.


The Game

The first iteration

How to define urban expansion from different peripheries, constrain the negative impact of cities towards nature, and promote balance between the two? In the first iteration of our gameboard strategy, we traced different types of edges to outline potential future scopes of expansion and their physical form. We identified a variety of edges to separate existing ecological fragments and areas that are heavily affected by sea level rise. Furthermore, we explored different ways of representing city and nature expansion through edge systems.

The second iteration

How to go from protecting the regional ecology to letting the ecology and the city coexist harmoniously? The second iteration shows three zones, defined by different edges: ecological reserves, climate resilience zones, and ecological regeneration zones. Ecological reserves should be unharmed and thereby mark the final periphery of urban expansion. Climate resilience zones are located above flood-prone areas that are most affected by hazards of sea level rise. Through intervention in these regions at various phases, the recovery of natural hazard caused by climate change is facilitated.


The Game Zoom-in

We continued the game boarding process on the meso-scale in Nansha. Here, scope and orientation of urban expansion is constrained within green boundaries. It also demarcates the non-transcend natural fragments on the “inside” of urban areas. We imagine a division into climate resilience zones in three phases according to three heights of sea level rise, and a gradual transformation of crop lands into aquaculture and mangroves, which will slow down the process of submerging. The periphery of urban expansion is no longer closed, as it preserves space that makes interconnection between cities possible. It transforms the linear morphology of cities along rivers into a variety of urban networks. Natural ecologies morph and expand in ecological zones, forming an ecological network by interconnecting with ecological fragments on the inside of cities. Here, two types of networks intersect and form an urban cluster that will remediate the ecological system through natural evolution under a balanced variable status.


The Vision

The delta as a symbiosis of two mutually affecting networks forms a large urban cluster that yet maintains a variable balance between city and ecology. Our scenario suggests an ecology-triggered mode of urban development, which representing a vision of “ecotopia city”. It utilizes ecological processes as main drives of urban development. Natural regeneration may improve an urban landscape’s ecology as it adapts to future hazards of climate change. The establishment of two types of urban networks with mutual influence explores the coexistence between city and nature. This calls for a prioritization of the relationship of the two networks, as it compromizes rapid development and natural preservation.