Guangshen Superhighway Market

Cycles of production and systems of distribution over the centuries have always been an emulator for shaping the human settlement. A strategic approach and politics of laissez-faire adopted by PRD local government bodies and then implemented by planners, architects and developers are in a sense the most up-to-date form of planning. As a result, the region has crystallised into a single urban entity based on the opportunistic adoption of a transport infrastructure built with private money and high tolls to serve the well-distributed factory. The Guangzhou superhighway, exclusive property of Gordon Wu’s Hopewell Holdings, is a major vector of this development. It suggests that the configuration of this strategic network is no longer determined by local factors but by a private empire that controls the economy, politics, planning and culture.

Another life takes root underneath the highway and surfaces at every interchange. Each of these exchange centres is located with an apparent lack of order in terms of geography or history, but is determined in terms of distance and connection to the other parts of the network. In this context, the tendency is to encourage opportunistic development that has the capacity to maximise the options between each of these places. Transportation terminals are remarkable examples of the new system, whereby the function of connecting and interchanging the masses with other modes of transport is broadened to include other uses such as commercial activities, leisure facilities, office and residential zones. Within this configuration, access becomes a measure of mobility and fluidity of urban expansion. In effect, these developments provide the necessary dynamics for a successfully competitive centre that is able to extend its influence into the territory. With no particular concern for spatial sequence or articulation, these extensive flow lines constitute an effective strategy for colonisation, transforming the landscape into a series of poly-nuclear construction systems, therefore reinforcing the hybrid condition of the territory.

Laurent Gutierrez
Valérie Portefaix

MAP Office
Hong Kong 

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