As a project-based course, the primary assignment was the development of a series of recommendations for the project client, officials of the District of Gaoming and Foshan Municipality. The primary interest of both the client and the studio is 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 brought together students from different backgrounds (architecture, environmental planning, international development, and policy) to focus on planning and design options for the proposed new central area along the West River. The students were required to combine research, observation, and design to develop a report and oral presentation for the client containing recommendations for the West River project.

Within this larger project, a series of smaller assignments and presentations led the class to its end goals.

  1. Site Visit: Students in the studio were required to participate in a preliminary site visit conducted in the weeks prior to the beginning of the semester.
  2. Charette in Gaoming and Presentation: During this visit, students were required to conduct a planning charette and to present their preliminary research and findings to the client before returning home.
  3. Inventory and Analysis: Students should conduct an initial inventory and analysis to provide an understanding of the composite patterns and processes of the natural and man-made systems; to assess the opportunities and constraints (challenges); and to generate planning and design concepts which will aid in transforming the site into an urban place.
  4. Prototypes: Students should explore similar cases in which cities successfully and innovatively addressed the issues at hand.
  5. Personal Abstraction and Projection: Students should present a variety of visions for Gaoming and explain their ideas in relation to one or several of the site's major issues such as waterfront development, the distribution and location of land uses, streets and blocks, integration of natural systems, and the preservation of existing villages.
  6. Overall Plan and Suggested Design Interventions: Students must prepare a set of master site plans for mid-term review. They should explore alternative planning scenarios and present potential options to the client. The plans should reflect three specific levels of decision-making:
    • Planning context and preferred scenario: the overall context at a regional and city scale and the basis for a preferred plan,
    • A proposed master plan for the site, and
    • An illustrative neighborhood plan that provides details for a specific land use area.
  7. Mid-term Review in Gaoming and Additional Site Visits: Students must participate in a mid-term review by the client in Gaoming and use their additional time in China to conduct additional research and site visits.
  8. Development of Design and Planning Typologies: In the final stage of work, students should create specific typologies for design and planning along the following themes: water (hydrology) transportation and land use, density and form, civic centers, and villages.
  9. Review with the Mayor of Gaoming and City Officials
  10. Revisions and Report Production
  11. Exhibition of Project
  12. Presentation of Project in Gaoming