How Should We Live: An Alternative Process of Land Development for Chinese Villages
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A class of migrant workers in China that have left their official rural residence in search of work and wealth in the more developed coastal cities have created a new process of urbanization. The ‘floating population’ numbering 150 million has created immense demand for low-cost housing. Village enterprises within the city region of expanding metropolises have self-organized to supply affordable housing. However, economic incentives and ownership constraints on rural land deter long-term considerations and favour rapid development. The building (and destruction) of a country cannot be recklessly left to coincidental solutions of profit opportunities in remnant policies. An understanding of the systemic political, economic and social properties that generate the built fabric of today and of traditional villages can allow us to manipulate the current process of development. The village of Zhangpeng in Dongguan city of the Pearl River Delta region is on the brink of explosive growth. Major infrastructural developments have been constructed and planned on its expropriated lands. Without proper guidance, the status quo process of urbanization will destroy the village overnight. The proposed alternative is to manipulate market-demand through village-led investment in its public space network in order to spur private development of village properties. The method is through strategic and incremental investment on village public space and property and monitoring the catalytic effect of these changes on private redevelopment. Adjustments in land development is made to steer the built fabric into a form between what the village wants it to become and what it has the propensity to be. The aim is to create a system of land development that will preserve, adapt and extend traditional village fabric and its way of life.