Utopia Now: Opening the Closed Area

Joshua Bolchover, Peter Hasdell

Research output: Unpublished conference presentation (presented paper, abstract, poster)Conference presentation (not published in journal/proceeding/book)Academic researchpeer-review


Opening the Frontier Closed Area is an on-going research and speculative project that critically addresses the future development of the Frontier Closed Area – a borderland buffer zone that was established in 1951 to control illegal migration and black-market trade from mainland China. Over time the Closed Area has evolved its own specific ecosystem becoming an anomaly in one of the most densely inhabited and fastest growing urban regions. It is a zone of immense potentials and contradictions: a radical separation between ideologies, economic and political systems, and social and cultural mores. It is a horizon of dreams and desires and a site of intense exchange. The paper will explore the regional context and massive urbanisation processes that have occurred in the Pearl River Delta over the last thirty years and present a proposition for the Closed Area that uses the Zone’s special status to create an urban strategy that is mutually beneficial to both sides of the border. KEYWORDS: urban transformation, border territory, urban ecology, mutual benefit zone, globalisation, industrialisation
Our brief is to begin to describe this Third Space in terms of a programmatic planning zone: a three dimensional planning tool that sets an agenda for the types of program that could create benefit to both sides of the border.
We wish to create an idea driven provocation that questions the future of the HK-SZ border. How can we implement a strategy for the border zone that can influence the development of the entire Frontier Area? As the future development of Hong Kong is interdependent with that of the Mainland how can this site act as a microcosm for much larger issues such as the “one country, two systems” policy or indeed the final dissolution of the border in 2047?
Utopia Now will investigate these issues to create a discursive, abstract spatial model as a three dimensional planning strategy. Photographs by artist/ photographer Pokit Poon will explore the existing unique urban experiences of Hong Kong and Shenzhen as forces that will shape the potential lived, spatial experience of our future model city.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2009
EventInternational Forum on Urbanism: The New Urban Question – Urbanism beyond Neo-Liberalism conference - Delft University of Technology, Delft, Netherlands
Duration: 26 Nov 2009 → …
Conference number: 4


ConferenceInternational Forum on Urbanism
Abbreviated titleIFoU
Period26/11/09 → …
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