by Ian Morley
It is a historical fact that with economic transition comes environmental change. Perhaps there is no greater influence on the physical environment than the rapid industrial and economic development of towns and cities.
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This occurred in Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries, during the Industrial Revolution. Transportation innovations like the train and later the car encouraged a physical and psychological detachment between the home and workplace, leading to an expansion of residential and commercial districts into rural pastures.
Governments are also influential in such expansion, as they were in Asia and Europe after World War II. Postwar rebuilding and new-town development were welcomed as ways to rapidly rehouse people and reinvigorate ailing economies.
In Britain, new towns were expected to bestow wider social equity, deal with a longstanding slum housing problem, and arrest the apparently irrepressible sprawl of the largest industrial cities. In Hong Kong, new towns were hoped to sustain economic efficiency and manage massive immigration in the 1950s after the Chinese Civil War.
Special Economic Zones
The People's Republic of China adopted a distinct urban, social, and economic approach. The policy of creating Special Economic Zones (SEZ) was established under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping in the late 1970s and has become a vital component of the Chinese quest for social and economic advancement.
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Shenzhen, China, a fast-growing, polluted city.
Photo: Ian Morley
The Shun Hing Square Tower, Shenzhen's tallest building, is reputed to be the fastest-built skyscraper in the world.
Photo: Ian Morley
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