Today’s globalized economy brings growth of unknown pace to the Greater Bay Area (GBA). Large-scale infrastructures make areas accessible that yet were not part of the urban system. But some people benefit little from the integration. They rather see how their surroundings are being destroyed through large scale infrastructure and urban development. Others are even expelled from their home. Therefore, this project proposes an endogenous integration, a new strategy for the development of peri-urban areas from within. The idea is based on two concepts.

The first concept is integration. The idea is to not only to integrate peri-urban areas into urban systems, but to integrate their population with their particularities. The inhabitants of peri-urban areas should benefit from economic growth through future-oriented job opportunities, high quality housing, as well as good education and healthcare. Beyond that, they should have access to technical and social infrastructures and environmental goods like recreation areas, and natural landscapes.

The second concept, the endogenous development, differentiates this proposal even stronger from the ongoing urbanization process. We propose to base development processes on the existing socio-spatial structures. Inspired by J. Friedmann (2007), we state that the peri-urban should keep their multiplicity and distinctiveness. This means that these areas should offer a wide range of social, economic and environmental functions. Furthermore, different neighborhoods should be accessible from one another and encourage interaction between their inhabitants. Finally, each peri-urban area should keep its distinctive character, including cultural traditions, distinctive morphologies, and typical landscapes.

The goal of this project is to show that endogenous integration processes will make peri-urban areas sustainable and livable. Moreover, the accessibility and protection of peri-urban areas will enhance the living quality of urban areas throughout the GBA.


The Team

Bart Sikkens grew up in Zaandam, in the province North-Holland of the Netherlands. He got his bachelor of Applied Sciences at Hogeschool van Amsterdam. At that point he felt the necessity to broaden his knowledge before working in the urbanism sector.

Yaqi Wang grew up in Dalian, a coastal city in the northeast of China. Since the age of 18, she studied in the Southeast University for 6 years in Urban Planning as an undergraduate.

Simon Bohun obtained his bachelor’s degree in spatial planning at the Technical University of Vienna. After focusing on urban research in his bachelors, he came to TU Delft to deepen his abilities in urban design.

Zahra Agbaria  is a Dutch/Israeli student, studied architecture and urban planning in Technion institute of Haifa, Israel. In 2017 she moved to the Netherlands and got her bachelor degree of architecture, urbanism and building sciences in TU Delft, the Netherlands.


The Quest

Infrastructure connectivity. Data Source: Map data copyrighted NBSC contributors.


“Airports, freight zones, retail malls, sports stadia and university, research, hospital, media and technology campuses are similarly emerging as zones of intense regional and global interchange whilst at the same time walls, ramparts and CCTV systems are constructed which actively filter their relationships with the local urban fabric.“

(Graham & Marvin, 2001)

Peri-urban and urban areas in the GBA.


“The common feature of the many different types of space that are considered peri-urban is that they are transition spaces with some degree of intermingling of urban and rural uses”

(Wandl & Magoni, 2017)

Fragmentation and peri-urban areas.

Exogenous vs. endogenous development

“ [...] once capital moves on to more promising regions as it often will, what it leaves behind is nothing more than the empty shell of abandoned factories. [...] The city [...] will have failed to initiate and sustain an endogenous development — a development from within — based chiefly on local savings, supplemented by international aid and private contributions.

(J. Friedmann, 2007)


The Challenges

What spatial ecological structures and economical influences have formed the peri-urban areas in the GBA?

What are the local endogenous assets of the peri-urban areas within the GBA?

How can endogenous assets encourage a strategy for the GBA towards an sustainable, integrative and polycentric region?


The Game

Besides the common research methods like mapping and literature research, this course provided the opportunity to use a method to explore the morphology of the GBA in a different way. In collaboration with the School of Design, Hong Kong Poly U an unique kind of research was introduced to this project, called the pointillist approach. The pointillist approach is one of the four themes of the morphological game that can be used to explore larger scale strategies for the GBA.


The way the pointillist approach is used in this project is mainly inspired by the rules of the Weiqi game. As shown in Fig. 3.2., a white tile can be consumed by a black one if it is surrounded by more black tiles. Meaning that the game morphology can change because of the amount of tiles in its surroundings with different colors.

Weiqi game: A white tile can be consumed by a black one if It is surrounded by black tiles.

Dominant economic sectors in peri-urban area

Iteration 1

The first iteration shows the peri-urban areas according to the dominant economic sector (Service, Industry, Agriculture). We used a set of evolutionary rules to explore development directions for the region. Meaning that each pin would change in relation to the surrounding pins instead of strategic decisions. Besides others, the game included rules like the development of service clusters around train stations, the protection of bigger green clusters or deindustrialization, the replacement of industrial sites by a certain percentage for the service sector or green spaces.

Dominant economic sectors in peri-urban areas, generalized in a 10x10 km grid

Iteration 2

The next iteration draws more general conclusions for the whole region by colouring grid cells by the dominant colour of pins. This shows bigger morphological structures and main changes on the scale of a town or district. This scales helped us to define more strategic rules like major green corridors or the need to increase green pins in certain grid cells.

Dominant economic sectors in urban and peri-urban areas

Iteration 3

The third iteration is the starting point of a new methodology for the multi-scalar analysis in a complex area and therefore to the development of a regional strategy. Urban clusters and industrial areas are shown in their rough expansion while peri-urban settlements are depicted by their density. These maps combine the grade of detail of the first iteration with the big picture of the second one. The pointillist understanding helps to show centralities and importance that are later used to define the need for integration into regional networks.

Dominant economic sector in 4 zoom-in areas

Iteration 4

The same method works on the local scale to analyse the “cell structure” of a district. Changing the function and grainity of some of these circles helps to explore new morphologies and systems of centrality. In this zoom-in, for instance, industrial clusters and corridors were transformed into mixed use service and residential corridors. Based on these ideas the strategy section explores ways to integrate these new polycentric morphological structures into the regional networks.


The Vision

By 2030 the Greater Bay Area will be a prosperous and integrated polycentric metropolis. Everybody will have access to mobility and therefore to services all over the region. Nevertheless, the polycentric urban structure will integrate peri-urban areas without making long distance travel necessary on a daily basis. Housing and other commodities as well as participation in public life will be affordable for all parts of the population. Moreover, environmental structures and cultural landscapes will be protected. Through this project the region will be prosperous and well integrated. But if the endogenous assets form the base of this development, all inhabitants can benefit from this process. This way, the region will be well prepared for the decades to come.

Zoom-in area 1 - Integrated Agroscape

Zoom-in 1 - The Integrated Agroscape

The first zoom-in area shows how peri-urban areas can be integrated into the urban system while keeping their endogenous character. The translation of the vision to the local scale starts with the smallest endities, the peri-urban blocks. A indicates typical peri-urban settlements. The canal settlement (1), for instance, is a typical settlement type in the area and has a very special morphology. These areas could be integrated by connecting them to bigger corridors and developing new subcenters at intersections of roads and canals. Showing such a development idea for each type makes it possible to start a regional strategy from the local endogenous assets.

The types of peri-urban blocks connect to a network of new centralities. Development corridors on former industrial land will act as backbones of local accessibility. Most of the urban expansion will take place in these areas. From these new axes and nodes of centrality, all settlements can be integrated without loosing their endogenous character. The concentration of development makes the preservation of the local characteristics in the surroundings possible. Development boundaries indicate a special sensibility of landscapes. Here, a highly place-adequate form of development needs to be achieved.

Development strategy of an integrated corridor and the surrounding canal settlements and typical local morphological types

Zoom-in area 2: Industrial center

Zoom-in 2 - The Industry Center

The role of the second site in the regional vision is to combine a hub of global economy with the development of endogenous assets. Currently the neighbourhood is dominated by clusters of industry, agricultural landscapes and small settlements. This tissue is folded around natural environments which emphasizes the contrast of this neighbourhood. The location has the potential to be a specialized industrial cluster for the region as it is well connected to the water and road infrastructure. This development will stimulate new multifunctional landscapes along the infrastructure where living and working are well connected with the daily system while preserving the natural areas.

Development strategy of a specialized industrial cluster and typical local morphological types

Zoom-in area 3: Urban Garden

Development strategy of a new subcenter

Zoom-in 3 - The Urban Garden

The third site is in the east of Dongguan, with the dominant sector remaining as agriculture. Therefore, the goal of this site is to protect agricultural and natural land from natural erosion during urban sprawl, while providing recreation space for the city as an urban garden.

If the economy slows down in the future, it will emphasize more on the ecological features of the site, reducing urban construction, and demolishing part of the built land to agriculture and nature. In the exogenous development, most of the buildings that have invaded the natural corridors will be removed. In the endogenous planning, the characters of settlement combined with nature will be retained.

Zoom-in area 4: Urban Edge

Strategy for an endogenous transit oriented development hub

Zoom-in 4 - The Urban Edge

The fourth site is in the east of Shenzhen, with the dominant sector changing from industry to service. It is close to the city center of Shenzhen with Shenzhen East Station in the site. Therefore, the development goal of this site is to transform from peri-urban area to urban area, while preventing excessive urbanization and forming the edge of urban development.

If the economy slows down in the future, it will maintain an industrial-led economy while adding green corridors to connect nature on the west of the highway and railway. In the exogenous planning, the traffic will be redirected to be car-oriented to provide high accessibility for the factories near the station. In the endogenous planning, green corridors will follow the original urban fabric with a small amount of transformation made to the interior of the residential area.


The human scale of endogenous integration

Through this vision and strategy, the GBA will be an integrated polycentric region and urban cores will be well connected. This will increase the opportunities of inhabitants in the job market as well as in their leisure time. Peri-urban areas will be integrated into these regional networks. Walkable sub-centers make a wide range of goods and services accessible to all inhabitants. Beyond that, people of all parts of society will be able to take part in public and civic life. A well developed and affordable public transport network will ensure mobility between neighborhoods and agglomerations. It will help to establish equal access to education and jobs. This process of integration will be embedded into the framework of endogenous cultures, societies and spatial particularities. To conclude, the GBA will combine prosperity with livability and sustainability, while keeping its diversity.