Urban Informal Settlements as Sites for Green Infrastructure: Regenerating Dayouzhuang and Saoziying Urban Villages in Beijing
Urban villages are the primary form of urban informal settlements in China. They emerge from the ongoing process of extensive rural-to-urban migration. While urban villages provide more readily available and affordable housing options for new urban migrants, their overloaded population and poor living environment have become a problem in the city. The existing official solution of urban villages is to remove them and to replace them with new developments. This solution takes a long time to complete and neglects the social role of urban villages in the city. This project focuses on solving the inland flooding problem that occur regularly in the summer monsoon season in the urban villages of Beijing, and proposes to use a green infrastructure (GI) approach, instead of conventional infrastructure, to control and manage stormwater on-site more effectively and in an environmentally-friendly way. By comparing the urban villages in Beijing with informal settlements in Mumbai and Sao Paulo, this project recognizes the specific physical environment in each city and evaluates their upgrading plans from a landscape architect's point of view. Learning from that comparative assessment, the project selects two adjacent urban villages, Dayouzhuang and Saoziying in Beijing. Based on the site analysis of those two villages, the project study creates a toolbox of GI techniques and proposes a stormwater management system with appropriate GI tools from the toolbox. In terms of the different degrees of intervention, two alternatives are created. One is a limited removal of existing buildings with lower cost; another is a medium-level removal with higher cost. By proposing GI alternative in the urban villages, the project gives a prospective view of improving urban hydrology by regenerating urban villages with GI techniques in Beijing.