Cristina Barrios


‘The difference between city, country, and suburb is fast disappearing… what is left is marked by points of intensity and exchange’ James Corner, Stan Allen 2005.

New urban centres

Rapid industrialisation in the Pearl River Delta in China has progressively developed most of its agricultural land into fragmented islands of self-organised industries and generic housing. The scattered urbanisation in peri-urban areas has led to the creation of degraded urban environments, industrial pollution, labour mobility and infrastructural redundancy, leaving the remaining agricultural land as voids for future urbanisation to fill. It is a model of urbanization that starts from the rural village itself, so as one village grows, the remaining ones depend on the new small-scale urban services, access to markets, information and social benefits which are brought by the new industries. The reoccurrence and complexity of these processes throughout the delta demand strategies that can adapt to their specific requirements.


By networking these scattered urbanisations, the project aims to devise a series of continuously adapting urban condensers whose primary function is to intensify, incentivise or compensate the programmatic orientation of the new fabrics. The condensers would work as templates; they are either informed by or create their own context, thus becoming a medium for social and material exchange.

Assembling the condenser

The condensers plug into existing fabrics and are assembled through programme units which are able to support different spatial and programmatic configurations over time. Through the integration of collective spaces, infrastructure, industry and agriculture production, they become new public cores for adjacent territories. The agriculture ‘intent’ is strongly retained.

Testing It, Qishi – Pearl River Delta

As a test-bed, the project examines Qishi, in the Pearl River Delta. Primarily agricultural, Qishi has developed into a series of dispersed ‘factory towns’ and isolated rural villages. Through the analysis of existing and proposed industrial-agricultural ecologies and development patterns of the site, processes of programmatic accumulation and association are underlined so as to articulate and speculate the development of the site.

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