ETH Zurich – Institute for Urban Design
HIL H44.1 – Stefano-Franscini-Platz 5 – 8093 Zurich



Design Studio FS14 Shenzhen

From Hong Kongs productive hinterland to a globally connected and polycentric metropolitan region

When Deng Xiaoping founded in 1980 at the border to Hong Kong a special economic zone as test for a possible economic opening of China, it was hardly to be expected that 30 years later more than 10 million people were living in that area that was formerly only populated by a few fishermen. Through the strategic location along the global maritime trade routes through access to cheap labor more and more foreign firms settled in Shenzhen. This resulted in a continuous inflow of migrant workers. The region became famous for its large production volumes of electronic devices, which are exported worldwide and can be found as smartphone or computer accessories in our gadgets and devices for everyday use. 


Mobility as driving force of the urban development

The metropolitan area around the Pearl River Delta has approximately 40 million inhabitants and has emerged along a complex mobility network. Here, the urbanization process has significantly being formed by the development of new infrastructure elements. However, in urban design and planning there is not enough attention being paid to the interaction between mobility systems and urbanized areas. Classically, transport infrastructures are mainly the tasks of the engineering field, whereas social, ecological and economic components are neglected or remain in the background. During the upcoming semester we will therefore investigate the influence of mobility systems on neighborhoods along corridors and regional
developments. Through an integrative design approach we will have a closer look at the potential of the linkage between the city and its mobility systems.


Methodical approach

We apply a methodical approach, which takes into account the highly complex situation through interdisciplinary approaches beyond traditional methods. For us (strategic) urban design is collective effort and could be described as simultaneous chess. Urban Design an effort the group "simultaneous chess" at different levels.


Integrated seminar week

Part of the studio is an integrated seminar trip to the Pearl River Delta (Including visits to Hong Kong, Macao, Shenzhen and Guangzhou) from March 15 to 23 (fee
SwF 750). On this trip we aim at testing our thesis, which we will have developed during the first studio weeks with local autorities, architects, planners and the local population. In cooperation with local universities we will do a workshop.


Organizational details

• A maximum of 36 participants

• Group work in the studio space at the ONA

• Credit points: 13 +3 (Integrated planning discipline)

• Good knowledge of English

• Introduction: Tuesday, February 18m 2014, room G 34.2, 2nd floor at ONA, 10 am

• Integrated Seminar trip to Shenzhen and the Pearl River Delta

• Cooperation with the Institute for Transport Planning and Systems, chair of Prof. Dr. Kay Axhausen

• Contact: Myriam Perret