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Work Sample 001
Work Sample 001
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Capacity and Passage: Water-based urbanization in the foothills

Water plays an important role in the patterns of urbanization in China. The past fifty years of drought and rapid urbanization without sensitivity to resource availability have put Beijing in the precarious position of getting all of its water from pumping groundwater. As a result, the water table is dropping at the unsustainable rate of 5 meters per year. As a solution, the Chinese government is implementing a large infrastructure project to transfer water from the Yangtze to Beijing. While this project may bring water to Beijing in the short term, the long term viability of the solution is questionable, particularly in light of increased drought in the Northern Plains and saline inundation in the Bohai Bay area expected by climate change scientists.


In light of these issues we propose that while what Beijing may really need is a N-South people transfer project set in motion as the South- North water transfer runs out, this is unlikely. Thus, new means of development are needed which respond to the resource pressures on the region. Our project seeks to take advantage of the relatively resource secure foothills and limit density based on water availability while preserving the floodplain for agriculture and aquaculture that can take advantage of greywater from the city moving downslope.

The basic unit of this strategy is the courtyard house and its roof. The rooftop serves as a surface for water collection. With each roof at 65 square meters enough water can be collected for 1 person at a rate of 100 liters per year, slightly more than the current average in China. The courtyard is then terraced to fit into the slope of the foothills. Additional collection capacity is engaged through the urban fabric such as roads, plazas and public infrastructure. The city acts as a surface for water collection, capturing all the water which falls upon it and storing it below and within buildings, plazas and houses. Urban form is derived from the need for capture and density is driven by its capacity. At the same time, the urban fabric is broken to allow for landscape systems of runoff to pass through it, maintaining drainage corridors from the mountains free from urbanization, preserving the water table and increasing the viability of the plains upon which Beijing relies for its food supply. From the scale of the city to the scale of the street, the project seeks to respond to national and local issues while deriving new urban identity from the conflicting need for growth and the lack of resources to support this growth that Beijing currently faces.

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Status: School Project
Location: Beijing, China
My Role: It was a team of one Urban Designer / Architect (me) and one Landscape Architect
Additional Credits: MAUD Second semester urban design studio [Colaboration: Amy Whitesides - MLA]
Kongjian Yu
Adrian Blackwell
Stephen Ervin

Work Sample 002
Work Sample 002