Multidisciplinary Mega Cities

Building megacities needs to be a multidisciplinary effort, according to architect and designer Sean C. S. Chiao.
February 3, 2011, 2pm PST | Nate Berg
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Chiao works on megacity projects in China, and argues that the future of big city building needs to integrate many minds, and combine the efforts of private industry and the public sector.

"[U]rbanization is happening fastest in developing countries such as China, where I lead a team of designers, architects, engineers, and management-service specialists. China already has seven cities with more than ten million people-Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Tianjin-and Wuhan is quickly hitting the ten million–resident mark. For China, with its high population density and its land and water scarcity, megacity development is probably the most efficient option. Chinese megacities will be hubs for jobs, culture, leisure, and education, a model that will be radically different from the manufacturing-center model that forms the basis of many Chinese cities today. Chinese megacities will also, very likely, be hubs for small and medium-sized satellite cities that will spring up around them.

As an architect and urban designer, I believe that the right approach to both retrofitting an existing megacity or building a new one from scratch is holistic planning, with commitment flowing from both the public and private sectors. For Chinese megacities to function properly, there must be clear state policies on how to build and run them, as well as strict audits to ensure that the laws are followed. Rules and guidelines on how to build a "green" infrastructure-from buildings, bridges, transport networks, and sanitation systems to power grids, incentives for consuming power efficiently, and disincentives for energy abuse and malpractice must be mandated and put into practice. Continuous investments are required from both the government and the private sector."

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Published on Tuesday, February 1, 2011 in What Matters
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