Megaproject to Megaprocess


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Delta’s old rhythms,

Villages and fish ponds fade,

Progress shadows all.

The Pearl River Delta is fast becoming a major national and global centre, signified through a massive urban expansion into the hitherto rural and peri-urban wetlands areas of the delta. Traditional land-use pattern made up of systems of fish ponds and villages are found in these deltaic areas, forming a complex but sensitive hydro-ecosystem. This vulnerable system is being claimed by megaprojects, focussing urban development in a leap-frog style of growth into creating new centralities, related to technical, financial, industrial, and educational infrastructure. The development of the megaprojects often occur in a tabula-rasa style, disrupting existing social patterns and land uses, breaking the scales of their contexts. Together with their hyper-specialization and built rigidity, megaprojects become increasingly susceptible to future uncertainties, especially connected to water and social flows in the Delta.

Using the morphological gameboarding approach we subsumed interrelationships between social movements and amenity demands, water systems and development logics, megaprojects, and policy shocks into the realization that future uncertainties show structural weaknesses with the current way of megaproject development. We thus propose a different way of thinking about development, from a “build it and they will come” approach to a more agile, longer-term process. Instead of solely economic thinking, we urge an additional strong focus on the human flows in the area, and a powerful water perspective. The large-scale rural-to-urban migration of the past decades shows the shaping power of the human flows, which in the maturing economy of China rightfully demand a concern for liveability. The water as an actor has shown its prominence through large-scale floodings in the delta, which in itself is a hyper-dynamic water-soil system.

The combination of these foci as socio-ecological processes shall be foundational components of this project, which looks beyond just its implementation. Including social and hydraulic actors, we demand a paradigm shift away from mere megaprojects towards more integrated mega processes, to positively impact the resilience of the Pearl River Delta.


The Team

Feline Kaaij, finished her Bachelors degree in Architecture at the TU Delft. Interested in the coming together of design and people this project showed her how the values of different cultures can influence design decisions and shape an area. She looks forward to doing more projects like this in the future. 

Jean Bijlsma, finished her bachelor’s degree in Architecture at the TU Delft. She is interested in multi-scalar approaches and the socio-ecologic aspects in complex systems. How design on a larger scale can influence the daily life of humans, encourages her to explore design possibilities across the scales in the GBA.


Jakob Pesendorfer, studied Spatial Planning at the Technical University in Vienna. The integrated approach to urban design, landscape architecture, and urban planning, and especially the complex tasks continually redefined by their stakeholders, fuel his passion for the field of Urbanism.


Jan Osusky, studied Geospatial Engineering BSc at ETH Zurich. Exploring the intersections between complex systems, Jan is interested in thinking across the scales, from the GBA to the lives of everyday people, and finding design approaches with a human perspective.


Mahaa Ejaz, is an architect with a bachelor’s degree from the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture in Karachi, Pakistan. Her interest lies in understanding how people perceive and interact with spaces of varying scales, and how they dynamically transform their surroundings. She is particularly passionate about creating environments that not only harmonize with the natural world but also enhance community well-being.


Yuhong Huang, finished her Bachelors degree in Landscape Architecture at China Agricultural University. She is interested in addressing urban issues through landscape planning and design and aims to understand complex systems from an urban planning perspective. She is passionate exploring new possibilities for the GBA.




The Quest

The Rise of Urban Agglomerations in China  

“As the world’s second largest economy and most populous nation, a national strategy of actively promoting and developing urban agglomerations sends a clear message that the urban agglomeration is likely to be the viable future spatial organization of cities and urban development in China.” 

(Fang & Yu, 2017)

Unchecked Urbanization Threatens Pearl River Delta's Ecology

“[...] in future rounds of urbanization, if the urban expansion scale and development intensity are not actively controlled, the ecological resilience level of cities in the Pearl River Delta will likely decrease further.” 

(Wang et al. , 2022)

Economic Priorities Undermine Resident Well-being

“[...] we find that the residents have not been relocated but are instead suffering from declining public services and environmental quality from surrounding industrial developments. The root cause of this problem is the municipal government’s prioritisation of its strategic objectives of economic development over the livelihood of local residents. ”

(Wang & Wu, 2019)


The Challenge

What are the challenges the Pearl River Delta faces due to the rapid expansion of the Greater Bay Area?

How can the development of megaprojects become more adaptive, not just considering economic motives, but also incorporating their impact on the social and water systems to create a more robust morphology of the greater bay area?

Considering the strong blue-green structures present in the Pearl River Delta, how can urban heat island effects and flood threats be addressed, and pressure on the sensitive areas of the delta alleviated?

In the face of large-scale megaproject development, how can existing populations, as well as arriving migrant workers be included in this environment, and how can more integrated and liveable places be provided for people from different
socio-economic conditions?

The Games

The group was divided into two teams, each developing a different game in separate locations with distinct focus areas. One game  concentrated on the social dynamics of the border area between Shenzhen and Hong Kong, while the other focused on the morphological aspects of the Nansha area, just south of Guangzhou.

Liveability - The Game of Life

Game set-up
Aim of the game 

This game board we used to get a new perspective on the social layer of the GBA. Using strips to represent types and intensity of amenities the players tried to make the hexagon patches optimally liveable for the four stakeholders; Children, Young Adults, Adults and Elderly. Each of the stakeholders has a card with the amenities in order of their priority. 

How to play
  1. During a round a player is allowed to move one tile in any direction and build, connect or remove an amenity on this patch according to the cards they posses.
  2. An action card can only be used one time, after playing the player has to take a new card from their stack which can hold any of the actions at random.
  3. A player is not allowed to move to a tile they already build on before.
  4. Connections cannot be made on the pink parts of the base layer.
  5. Every 4 rounds the character cards are moved one player to the right. This player now has to take into account the priorities of their new character.
  6. After round 4, 8, 12 and 16 one challenge card is taken and the steps mentioned on the card executed

Goal of the Game

The goal of the game in general is to Build, Remove, and Connect amenities to make the area as livable as possible for the different characters.

The goal of the game for the project is to recognize the spatial differences of the area's and patches on the map, dissect the reasons why the characters move in the patterns they do and why they prefer the areas they gravitate for the different starting scenarios.

  • Scenario 1
  • Scenario 2
  • Scenario 3

Scenario 1:  Edges 
Challenges:  Pandemic, Flooding, Economic crisis and Drought

Scenario 2:  Border
Challenges:  Flooding, Earthquake, Mass Migration and Pollution
Scenario 3:  Deep Centres
Challenges:  Ageing population, Drought, Flooding and Earthquake 


The game demonstrates that the liveability of an area is influenced by personal characteristics. To make a space optimally liveable for a diverse range of people, it should offer a wide variety of amenities to cater to different preferences. Challenges were shown to have the greatest impact on areas with a high density of amenities, making these areas most vulnerable. These challenges can decrease liveability for one group, prompting them to leave, while simultaneously attracting another group to the same area. In all scenarios, the variety of amenities around the border improved, and it became the area with the most added connections, highlighting it as an interesting location to focus on.

Shaping the Delta - The Game 

Game set-up
Aim of the game

Using the morphological form of the dot, we created this gameboard to investigate the patterns of development of urban and ecological structures under the influence of uncertainties, national policy, water-sensitive design and megaprojects.

How to play

The game is played by three players: One controlling development of industrial and housing areas (yellow and red dots, respectively), another controlling green and wetland areas (dark green and light blue), the third controlling policy - Five Year Plans. The two developing players aim to achieve a high score, while the policy player aims to keep the scores of the other two in balance.

The development players can earn one point for each dot of their colours added to the board. They can earn bonus points by achieving certain configurations of dots as set out on their points charts. If the other placer replaces their coloured dots, or if they are destroyed during uncertainties, points are deducted.

Uncertainty cards randomly appear every few turns. They consist of floodings, droughts, economic crises, mass immigration, or oil spills. They trigger special conditions on the board, which may impact one or both players. These cards symbolize possible events in the GBA and aim to push the players into a more resilient style of play.

Every five years, the policy placer may add one "Five Year Plan"-card. These cards are aimed at helping, or hindering one of the developing players, and introduce new game rules to follow for the next five turns. This simulates the government intervening to achieve certain strategic goals; Here, to balance economic and ecologic growth.

At the end of the game

The game is designed to be played for 15 rounds, representing 15 years and 3 Five Year Plans. The outcome of the game is analysed based on the shift in land use by counting the changes in the number of dots, the spatial structures that may have developed, and the points growth of each player over time.


We developed three evolutionary scenarios, each improving the one before it. These scenarios were all played on the same game board with the same basic set up, just changed by adding new game rules, in order to simulate certain development logics.

The initial scenario aimed to show the growth mostly based on agglomeration effects, without specific spatial guidance or ecologic protections. Here, the bonus points through creating configurations of dots had a major impact on the outcome on the board. The major shortfall of this scenario was an imbalance in the points growth, with the urbanization player consistently outpacing the ecology player
The second scenario aimed to introduce some principles of water-sensitive design. Here, new rules regarding the placement of residential or industrial dots next to rivers and wetlands were introduced, with the aim of modelling synergies between land uses to strengthen flood resilience. The outcome of this game was a balanced points growth, and an overall shift in land use to blue-green uses.
The third scenario developed to investigate the existing plans of building a megaproject in the gameboard, on the site of the planned Nansha train station. Next to the water related placement rules, the urbanization player now had to cluster their developments around a pre-defined spot on the map, and along infrastructure lines newly introduced to the gameboard. The outcome of this was a strong spatial focus of urbanization, with the most agriculturally and wetland-relevant areas left untouched. Here too, a balance of points growth was achieved.



On the gameboard, we found that rules of clustering development and creating synergies with water and wetland dots have the strongest impact in the spatial outcome. These two also positively impact the resilience of the development against floods.

Highly relevant for our project are the insight that water-sensitive design must be a part of our vision and strategy. Megaprojects may strongly shape the development patterns in the GBA. Achieving a balance in economic and ecologic growth requires strong interventions, which in turn requires a robust planning framework which can adapt to meet future uncertainties. Lastly, these uncertainties are highly relevant in the central delta - water related events affect the area strongly, but also population and economic events need to be considered.

Conclusion scenario 3

Conclusion of the Games 

Urbanization in China and Hong Kong has predominantly focused on infrastructure, often overlooking the water system and the needs of the original inhabitants. Integrated spatial strategies are crucial. These strategies must account for uncertainties and address the diverse requirements of various societal groups. By doing so, urban development can become more inclusive and resilient, ensuring that the cities remain attractive and livable for all residents. 




The Vision

This vision advocates for a shift from economically driven megaprojects to agile, long-term mega-processes that integrate socio-ecological perspectives. Emphasizing human flows and water systems, it aims to enhance liveability and resilience, addressing the needs of a maturing economy and the dynamic Delta water-soil system. The goal is to create sustainable mega-processes that ensure the Pearl River Delta's prosperity for future generations.

Spatial Vision

To achieve sustainability and resilience, six key principles are applied to existing and future urban cores, balancing built environments, blue-green networks, and infrastructures. These principles are further explained in the next chapter, 7. Strategic Approach. In the vision the principles are applicable in multiple similar conditions in the Greater Bay area (number one to six in map).

With future expansion likely, a gradient of growth zones allows both urban and green areas to expand. This gradient ranges from built-growth zones to semi-built growth zones and ecological-growth zones. Within this approach it is possible to bring the focus, based on future trends like economic growth or migration flows, to the specific subregions of the Greater Bay Area. Especially the “New Nansha district” can be mentioned as one key strategic target point. This new urban core functions as an important transportation node for national and global networks and provides an innovation and technology hub for future industries. It is important to mention, that these new developments will take place in the water sensitive central Delta, which is highly influenced by fluvial and pluvial floodings. Therefore the “around the built approach” provides a more water sensitive urban design approach to be better prepared for future shocks.

The blue network, supported by new green corridors, directs ecological growth towards the heart of the Delta and connects the central environments with the forests in the hinterland. This area focuses on nature restoration strategies to enhance biodiversity and to provide an ecosystem for natural water flows.

The vision explores a mega-process that establishes a socio-ecological equilibrium, prioritizing healthy living environments by harmonizing human activities with ecologic and economic networks. This vision aims to improve the living conditions in the GBA, and better accessibility for all community members, including children and the elderly, migrant workers, fishers and farmers, locals, foreign professionals, and tourists. Better accessibility leads to more liveable environments, making the surroundings more attractive for everyone. The social layer of the vision outlines the needs and wishes of the different social actors, and focusses on the improvement of their amenities in the region. Balancing human flows with natural ecosystems, fosters vibrant, well-connected communities that thrive within a regional network. Connectivity defines attractability, and by enhancing it, the liveability of the delta will improve. The mega-process supports economic growth, while nurturing social well-being and environmental resilience.

Spatial Patterns

In the strategy, six principles are applied on the scale of the Greater Bay Area. The design principles are explored further in the zoom in areas, where the strategic principles of the larger scale are translated into design elements on a smaller scale.

The strategic principles are implemented to initiate the transformation of megaprojects to mega-processes, with a strong focus on the water and social perspective. The principles are applied at the existing and future planned cores of the region. Each principle is defined by specific local conditions, and is proposed for the core that has similar local conditions. The principles envision a network with four main perspectives, the built (red), infrastructure (yellow), the blue, and the green.

The following spatial patterns are used as guiding principles for development on the GBA scale:

1. Around Built Structures: Using green belts to protect the landscape and to provide access to green areas for residents.

2. Isolating Infrastructure: Using grey infrastructure as blue-green corridors to improve ecological connections between different systems.

3. Urbanisation Corridors: Instead of dispersed urbanisation, focusing it within certain corridors.

4. Green Bridges: Intersecting blue-green structures through the city to create ecological connections along parks and rivers.

5. Along the Water: Creating room for the river by adding green structures and using the rivers to align infrastructure developments.

6. Blue-Green Heart: Creating large-scale ecological areas in the central delta, and between Hong Kong and Shenzhen.

Conceptual framework and mega-process

What is the mega-process? Looking back through history, urbanisation in the Pearl River Delta used to consist of a centuries-old equilibrium between the shifting reality of the delta, traditional fishpond-agriculture, accompanying fishing villages, and their vernacular architecture. In the late 20th century, national Chinese policy shifted to emphasise megaregion Metropolization, which in the GBA started with the megaproject of the special economic zones in Shenzhen and Zhuhai. Socio-ecological reactions to this were a large-scale rural-to-urban migration, increased urban floodings, coupled with an urban heat island effect, all of these still persist to this day. Through the new perspectives from the water and humans, we see one hand the need to focus on spatial strategic principles to bring the spatial and social visions to life, on the other hand there is a need for processes which ensure that development can occur in a resilient manner.

The main measure proposed is the paradigm shift towards a mega-process: The current thinking in megaprojects is enriched with a long-term perspective on future needs, potential shocks and uncertainties, and the multitude of current and future actors and stakeholders. Acknowledging that planning follows a cyclical path, rather than a linear one, with; reflections, evaluations, future visions and projections which influence current and coming planning decisions. Posing explicit questions about blue-green, and human processes, help to keep the socio-ecological perspective current.

Systemic Section

The section provides a comprehensive overview of the Greater Bay Area, categorizing its land and water usage into three primary zones: Sea Area, Coast Area, and Inland Area. It illustrates the integration of built-up areas, water bodies, natural and green spaces, and transportation infrastructure, showcasing water and human flow, along with future possibilities involving the hinterland.

The diagram depicts water movement through evaporation, transpiration, surface runoff, groundwater recharge, and collection. Human flow is illustrated through various activities such as global business, living and working, traveling, and community engagement. Specific user groups include expatriates, children and the elderly, fishers and farmers, migrant workers, tourists, and locals. Highlighted areas indicate potential improvements and new district developments, such as water collection and utilisation strategies, and creating room for the delta.

Design ELements
  • Build elements
  • Build elements
  • Blue elements
  • Blue elements
  • Green elements
  • Green elements
  • Infratructure

We have summarized and categorized the most important and common design elements in the Greater Bay Area into four categories: Built Up Areas, Water Bodies, Natural and Green Spaces, and Transportation Infrastructure. Under each category, we have illustrated different axonometric diagrams to depict their functions, spatial forms and the group of actors they involve.

Each element is evaluated and scored based on three key aspects: biodiversity, water infiltration and retention, and quality of life. Additionally, we have identified the user groups for each of these elements. This detailed representation provides a comprehensive overview of each land use type's role and significance in urban and natural landscapes, assisting urban planners, environmentalists, and policymakers in making informed decisions regarding land use and infrastructure development.


Zoom-in Area 

The reconfiguration of elements from the vision is further explored at both the Nansha and HK-SZ border sites. In the Nansha District, part of Guangzhou city, the focus is on the proposed future Nansha train station, examining the impact of a mega-structure that accommodates the river and its flows, while also adapting to the existing context of fishing villages. The second area of focus is the Lok Ma Chau Loop at the Hong Kong-Shenzhen border, where existing wetlands are expanded and integrated with an innovation park to create a more inclusive connection between Hong Kong and Shenzhen.

Zoom in location  | Hong Kong Shenzhen border 

The Hong Kong-Shenzhen border is defined by the Shenzhen River that flows between Shenzhen’s high-density megaproject developments and Hong Kong’s Northern territory, which includes fishponds, villages, and industrial areas. The blue structure is clear from the wetlands to the Shenzhen reservoir as an ecological corridor.

Border control points necessitate substantial infrastructure for trains and cars, facilitating the frequent daily movement of people between the two cities for commercial, educational, and other purposes. The Mai Po wetlands in the south-west play a crucial role in regulating the river's flow. In 2017, the Lok Ma Chau Loop became part of Hong Kong after the river’s course was altered. The current government proposal aims to create a programmatic link between Hong Kong and Shenzhen (Bolchover & Hasdell, 2016). This includes developing a public/private research and development park and a university that integrates with the existing infrastructure (Bolchover & Hasdell, 2016).

However, this wetland park is also a vital corridor for birds (Territorial Spatial Planning of Guangdong Province 2020-2035, 2019). The proposed dense development of the innovation park could adversely affect biodiversity by obstructing bird routes. Since Shenzhen was also a fishing village before its rapid development, our proposal introduces new wetlands on the Shenzhen side to restore the historical landscape. Given that water flows from Shenzhen into the river at the border, including contributions from the Shenzhen reservoir, it is essential to allow more room for the river, especially during floods. By enhancing water retention capabilities for both floods and droughts, the wetlands' role can be preserved while the proposed innovation park can be designed as a raised structure with a minimal footprint.

To provide a higher variety in the design, we used the method of a design sprint for both sites. Based on our analyses, three group members worked individually on three different designs. In the end, we discussed in a round table situation all designs and negotiated the most important elements, to morph it than in one final design.

In the Hong Kong - Shenzhen case, the focus on and around the new innovation park, and how the two countries can be better connected after 2047, was present. While Jakob focused more on the morphology of the river and the island of the innovation park itself, Jean and Yuhong focused more on the interconnection between ecological environments between both sides of the river to generate a green-blue system.

The Lok Ma Chau site lies between two starkly contrasting landscapes: the densely built high rises that now define Shenzhen's skyline and a network of Hong Kong’s wetlands interspersed with fishing villages and industrial areas. These existing elements will be reconfigured to show greater integration between the two boundaries. Our goal is to expand this wetland area on the Shenzhen side, creating more room for the river while preserving the existing ecological corridor for birds. We believe that the border between Shenzhen and Hong Kong will be unnecessary after 2047. The border control areas will then transform into recreational public spaces that also allow space for the water. The fishing villages in this area are also an important part of its culture and identity, and by expanding and integrating them further with different elements, we want to retain local values.

Rather than the proposed dense urban innovation park, we envision an integrated mix of fishing villages with educational and health facilities and an innovation park. By combining these with elements of public parks and wetlands, we aim to create a new configuration that brings diverse people together and fosters a more inclusive environment.

Consequently, the border control areas, which currently occupy a significant portion of the land, will become into seasonal floodplains, connecting and expanding the green areas from Hong Kong into Shenzhen. Shenzhen will also see the addition of more green corridors adjacent to existing residential areas, providing locals with access to public spaces, parks, and other essential amenities. There is also more room given to the river by making it wider with more gradually sloped riverbanks, and by fragmenting the Lok Ma Chao area into wetlands and fishponds. This transformation will result in a more diverse waterfront for both Hong Kong and Shenzhen, featuring seasonal floodplains that also serve as public parks.

The section cuts through the Shenzhen waterfront and Lok Ma Chao innovation park. The Shenzhen Hong-Kong bridge can be seen expanding into a green corridor, while the innovation park is a more compact, multi-functional space above the porous landscape of wetlands and public parks. The riverbed has a more gradual slope that accommodates fluctuations of the water level. Additional wetlands help with water retention and the lifted structure of the innovation park allows for more recreational spaces along the river.

Nansha Elements Diagram

Timeline Hong Kong-Shenzhen: This development timeline shows the current, and 2050 design situation, and also includes intermediate actions (2035) and further potentials (2050+). a special point in time is 2047, when the border will be dissolved. Until that time, the border facilities have to be preserved in some capacities, but it is already possible to perform some of the proposed actions, also relying on efficiency gains with facilitating border crossings, and establishing certain temporary border facilities. The construction of the wetlands and the science park are broadly the first step, with the Shenzhen river park and riverbed widenings happening later. Compared with the illustrated mega-process, revisions to the timeline are expected in regular intervals at the main decision moments. In the bottom metrics about flood risk, quality of life, and biodiversity show the possible cumulative impact the actions have on the site.


Zoom in 2 | Nansha

Nansha, an administrative district in Guangzhou, hosts the significant Nansha Port, designed to attract foreign investment. Nansha aims to rival Hong Kong by establishing a major technology innovation platform and fostering high-tech industries (HKTDC Research, n.d.). To support this, the proposed Nansha Station will serve as the central transport hub for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. Several megaprojects for this site are shown, including a Nansha Station hub area adjacent to the existing automobile manufacturing industry, surrounded by various science and technology parks. The government’s proposal envisions Nansha as a densely developed district like the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone area. Their proposal retains the coastal wetlands in the south but does not consider that Nansha is one of the most flood prone areas of Guangzhou.


The site's periphery contains crucial wetlands and fishponds which help in flood mitigation. Given this, we examine how to propose new developments and megaprojects while expanding existing wetlands. Our goal is to enhance Nansha's resilience to floods and droughts and improve the liveability of this agricultural and industrial area by ensuring all necessary amenities are accessible.

We applied in the Nansha case the same approach by using design sprints to develop our combined design. The Nansha Design case followed a different principle, due to the fact that most of the planned development is still not developed at the moment. Therefore, the experimentation of a new organisation of the space was more flexible. While Feline focused on the development of built innovation clusters, Mahaa reconfigured the edge of the river to a more fragmented one. Jan focused on a strong spine structure, where the future development can align next to it and develop in a more flexible and adaptable way.

  • Nansha 2050
  • Nansha Status Quo

The Greater Bay Area's core cities, including Hong Kong, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou, are interconnected by extensive infrastructure, forming a ring around the Delta. Future developments will create a new inner ring of districts, like Nansha, connected to major cities and the entire country through new railway lines. Nansha transport hub area is thus proposed to link the Nansha Port Railway, Shenzhen-Maoming Railway and the Guangzhou-Zhongshan-Zhuhai-Macao High-Speed ​​Railway (Nansha Station Architectural Concept Plan, n.d.-b). Being one of the newer areas undergoing major development, Nansha currently consists of elements such as manufacturing industries, fishing villages, farmland and construction sites. Since this region is almost entirely made through controlled sedimentation of the delta, our proposal aims to fragment the periphery next to the river to create more wetlands and mangrove forests. This new, softer edge is meant to help mitigate floods while also creating more space for recreation for the residents. The train station also remains but is more compact and raised above the ground to allow the continuity of the green-blue networks underneath. We believe that development is essential for income and housing but want to propose a more controlled structure for it.

Zooming in on the future Nansha railway station site, we propose a departure from the typical master plan. Instead, we envision an organisational structure that supports future expansion and adaptation. The station will be a floating structure above the existing landscape, with a green spine along the main longitudinal axis serving as the central connector between built functions. These functions cluster around the spine to minimize their footprint, leaving peripheral areas available for wetland expansion into a network of mangrove forests, aiding flood mitigation. There is a gradation of denser green-blue spaces from the river inward to the green spine, albeit built functions move outward, creating a more integrated structure. Smaller parks and green spaces around the built areas connect to the spine, while wider canals and an increased number of fishponds and lakes, help with water retention during both flood and drought seasons. The vehicular bridge in the Northeast will be transformed into a green bridge with an integrated public park.


A key aim of this proposal is to preserve important cultural elements, such as the fishing villages and the authentic structure of the land. The scale of the megaprojects is reduced to a human level through these villages, which are buffered by public parks and green belts to enhance their surroundings. Clusters of built areas along the spine will include essential amenities like hospitals, educational institutes, commercial and office buildings, and recreational areas to improve residents' quality of life. By integrating the built and the green-blue networks through a densely built spine and a natural mangrove coastline, the area in between becomes a buffer that is also a seasonal floodplain. The comparison of existing elements with the proposed reconfiguration shows how the river is prioritized, integrating the built environment with the site's existing green-blue structure.

The section through the proposed station shows how the scale of development is brought gradually down from the larger scale developments to the fishing villages at the centre. The green spine can be seen as different densities of green corridors at different levels. The station is on stilts, which allows blue-green structures to go underneath. Between the station and the fishing village is an undefined space which can become dynamic, maybe with a market, food street, entertainment district or something else. Thus, the local economy can flourish along with the global. Local actors can appropriate these in-between spaces as they like. Podium level developments of the new areas can strengthen social interactions and allow for urban life to continue during floods on the level above the ground. Locals can thus adapt to changing flows of the river with minimal interruption or loss.

Shenzhen Hong Kong Elements Diagram

Timeline Nansha: This development timeline shows the current, and 2050 design situation, and also includes intermediate actions (2035) and further potentials (2050+). The main actions include the establishment of the main axis, the green spine, and the mangrove wetlands in the north-east. Compared with the illustrated mega-process, revisions to the timeline are expected in regular intervals at the main decision moments. In the bottom metrics about flood risk, quality of life, and biodiversity show the possible cumulative impact the actions have on the site.


GBA vision 2030+

Our vision for the future GBA transitions from economically driven megaprojects to sustainable mega-processes that integrate socio-ecological perspectives. By emphasizing human flows and water systems, we aim to enhance liveability and resilience across the Pearl River Delta. Applying six strategic principles to urban cores, we balance built environments with blue-green networks and resilient infrastructures. 

Future expansion will follow a gradient of growth zones—from built to semi-built to ecological—ensuring harmonious urban and environmental development. The New Nansha district will become a pivotal innovation hub and transportation node, fostering sustainable industries within a water-sensitive urban design framework. The blue network, enhanced by green corridors, promotes ecological growth and connectivity, restoring biodiversity and natural water flows throughout the Delta. In Lok Ma Chau and beyond, our approach focuses on resilience and synergy with nature, ensuring development supports rather than compromises the region's ecological integrity. Our vision aims to create sustainable mega-processes that ensure the GBA's prosperity for generations, grounded in resilience, liveability, and a profound respect for the Delta's natural systems. 

Addressing our challenge, we mitigate urban heat island effects and flood threats by leveraging the Delta's strong blue-green structures. Our strategy reduces pressure on sensitive areas through resilient infrastructures and balanced development. By prioritizing water-sensitive design and integrating ecological corridors, we create a robust urban morphology that adapts to social and environmental needs. Megaprojects become more adaptive by incorporating socio-ecological considerations, enhancing the social and water systems. This ensures a more resilient and interconnected Greater Bay Area. Existing populations and arriving migrant workers are included through integrated, liveable environments. Our approach provides equitable living spaces, accommodating various socio-economic conditions and fostering community well-being. 

In conclusion, our vision for the GBA involves sustainable mega-processes that uphold ecological integrity while promoting prosperity, resilience, and liveability for future generations.

Megaproject, Liveability, Resilience