In the spring of 2005, an urban planning studio at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's School of Architecture and Planning examined the future of Gaoming. This studio, sponsored by the Esquel Group, is one of a series of domestic and international studios and workshops carried out by MIT's City Design and Development group. These studios investigate current urban planning and city design issues in a dynamic setting. In recent years, these studios have put forward ideas for areas and sites in Boston, Washington D.C., Chile, Singapore, England, and Spain among others.
To complement these efforts, the studio focused on planning and design options for the proposed new central area along the West River. Of particular interest to our client and to the studio group was the exploration of new ways of integrating water/hydrological factors into a modern city - including watershed and natural ecosystem protection, recreational activities, housing, transportation, and tourism.
The studio's pedagogic objectives were to introduce students from different backgrounds (architecture, environmental planning, international development, and policy) to the issues that can be addressed through design and planning, as well as to the techniques and values that must be engaged in that task. Beyond these educational purposes, there is also a wider important public objective. Typically, there has been a concerted effort to stimulate public understanding and debate about a current design or policy issue in that locale. Thus, the studio worked with our client - officals of the District of Gaoming and Foshan Municipality - who would hopefully benefit from the proposals that the studio generated.