I began to think about and pay attention to the problem of unbalanced urban development when I was working. My hometown is Shenzhen, which is one of the first developed international cities in China. During the rush hour of the daily commute, I looked at the eyes of the office workers. I found that it was as if they did not have their own souls, but moved passively like working machines. I began to become interested in this kind of behavior. I started to study and reflect on what is causing this interesting situation, and now I begin to see that the three factors of government policy (for high-speed economic development and formation of the special economic zones), economic condition and infrastructure construction (the gap of social resources and infrastructure between urban and rural areas), and the concentration of talents and labor forces(concentration of talents and rural left-behind children or elderly) interact with each other endlessly, thus causing unbalanced urban development problems today.
2. Project Overview
At present, China and even the whole world are faced with the problem of unbalanced urban development to some extent. The excessive concentration of urbanization and the extreme underdevelopment of suburbs or countryside are far too obvious. Taking China as an example, the solution to such problems is mainly from the perspective of the government.
- Urban Perspective:
(1) The governments of major cities in China (Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen) have started to build low-rent housing for talents and sell cheap houses to provide a way for talents to settle in cities.
(2) The urban human resources department provides talent introduction subsidies for newly imported graduates, including transportation, accommodation, one-time subsidy, etc.
(3) Through field research, it was found that due to the problem of urban development and migration, some real estate developers converted some demolished factories at the city center into more suitable communities for young people to live in. By reducing the construction cost, they reduced the rent fees and made them become popular among some young office workers.
- Rural Perspective:
(1) The government provides a series of talent policies for rural development in order to attract and retain talents to less developed areas.
In my opinion, at present, no matter from the perspective of government or business, they only provide solutions to settle talents and alleviate the pressure of life and solve the problem by means of attracting people to mainstream first-tier cities for development. I don't think the solutions to these kinds of problems think better about the nature of the problem. It only solves or alleviates the fierce competitiveness and high consumption pressure of talents in high-density first-tier cities. The spread of unbalanced urban development may result in bigger social problems (such as the Chinese New Year travel rush) or more problems about potential emotional needs. From the perspective of underdeveloped areas, a series of development policies by the rural government will indeed attract a large number of talents, but the outflow rate of talents is also very high. Backward basic resources and social conditions lead to the fact that talents cannot better realize their self-value and lack room for improvement.
Unbalanced urban development is a relatively serious social problem. I think the priority is to conduct systematic preliminary research to understand the current social situation. Secondly, a detailed portrait of people can help us know the contact points of people more clearly so that we can grasp the essence of the problem. Therefore, I hope to make a long-term observation of the characters, record the working days of several fresh graduates of different professions through cameras, gradually build a framework and start to analyze their behaviors, mentality, motivation, and feelings of the day, and then empathize with them. Through long-term observation and systematic analysis, I can these people's unique emotional expressions and potential needs, which will make it easier for me to find satisfactory entry points. And from the point of another larger dimension, I think it is also important to have a clear and reasonable visual classification of the relationship between problems and influencing factors. The establishment of the system diagram is also to let me more effectively intervene in this kind of social problem by means of design and make it more reasonable, not too contradictory with the social situation.
According to the current social situation of unbalanced urban development, I think I will start from two entry points: The first is from the perspective of rational allocation of resources. Designers have no way to macro-control through political means, But we can use more valuable business models to get governments to pay attention. For example, (FARMING&CROP) rediscovered the value of mountainous agricultural areas in extremely underdeveloped areas, so that customized online farm experiences could link with reasonable business models. This also means that it is one of the more effective solutions to excavate and create new values in underdeveloped areas by means of design, so as to attract more human resources and enterprises to pay attention to and explore again.
The second possibility is to redefine the definition of hometown and office space. Based on the current status of unbalanced urban development, the definition of hometown and workplace may be replaced in the future. For example, working online, doing your own work at home, a whole new mode of working may redefine the workplace. Or the change of traditional ideas of parents or children being left behind at home, assuming a trip from family to work, may redefine the home. Or we may redefine the relationship between spaces so that a place that meets the needs of a family and a place that meets the needs of a job will become relatively complementary.
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 George C. S. Lin & Amy Y. Zhang (2017), “Emphasis is placed on the interaction between state and market without paying adequate attention to their internal dynamics.”, Urban Geography - Issue 5: Interpreting China’s new urban spaces, Vol 38, pp. 63