NOW Quarterly: 2016 Fall

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The South Sea Pearl Studio speculates about the possibility of self-sustainable urbanism that balances and integrates the aims of culture, nature and business to reclaim the importance of intelligent ecology in 21st century urbanism.

Looking at individual small towns and city-states that arose throughout history—from Greek city-states, such as Miletus and Samos, to the towns populating the Roman Empire, to the Renaissance fortress city of Palmanova—it is notable that each of these urban systems were developed with a degree of autonomy and independence that is impossible in today's globalized era of the nation-state. For centuries, towns and city-states developed idiosyncratically, as micro engines of cultural, agricultural and social sustainability; their often remote locations and distinctly defined urban boundaries led to highly specific architectural, urban, economic, and social considerations as each culture addressed the questions unique to its own advancement.

  • In the 20th century, beginning with Ebenezar Howard’s Garden City, one can easily trace the rapid integration of technology and social change through Le Corbusier and Team 10’s urban masterplanning proposals, to the fantastic cultural re-inventions and destinations of Archigram, to the ecologically-driven agenda of Louis Kahn’s car-free downtown Philadelphia, to Norman Foster’s Masdar City.

Now, China is poised to inherent this legacy by constructing a 290 hectare island that will become a laboratory and demonstration project of urban sustainability in Hainan, China.
Studio targets the issue from five approaches, they are floating landscape, Archipelago, Infrastructure Urbanism, Extreme man-made urban environment, and the pods.