AGENDA Building Building upon a body of research established over the previous two years of work in this field, AALU maintained its focus on China’s ambitions to build four hundred new cities by the year 2020 — with 12 million people expected to move from rural to urban locations — as the basis for its brief. Far from resisting this development, AALU engaged opportunistically with the generation of ‘proto-strategies’ for new large-scale agglomerations as a means of critically addressing the phenomena of mass-produced urban sprawl. Our test-bed was the urban agglomerations of the Yangtze River Delta — including Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Suzhou, and Ningbo — with students focusing on the emergence of three benchmark issues in this area:
• Metabolic Rurbanism: the emergence of ‘desakota’ (urban villages) in which urban and rural processes of land use are combined, and the potentials it presents for the origin of industrial ecologies.
• Tactical Resistance: where generic, top-down masterplanning collides with informally developed urban cores, the potential to locate the fault lines of this dynamic as a space from which a tactical urbanism that is qualitatively informed and territorially specific, might be produced.
• Material Identities: the inadequacy of attempts to provide new urban settlements with an instant ‘identity’, through the application of either vernacular or western styles of building, in the context of ‘post-traditional’ urbanization.