SOM

SOM

Guangzhou University Town Four Villages

SOM’s master plan for University Island in Guangzhou uses the development patterns of four ancient farm villages to humanize a recent wave of rapid development. Ten disconnected campuses sprung up on the island in just seven years, with the student population swelling to more than 400,000. The island offers few amenities or natural escapes, with the nearest destinations requiring a car. The historic villages quickly became isolated.

Working closely with village leaders and city planners, focused investments were identified to make the entire island more livable and sustainable, balancing its heritage with forward-thinking strategies. The master plan integrates existing villages into an overarching framework that establishes new centers of student and village life, pinpoints areas for historic preservation, and uses lower-scaled development to reinforce a walkable community.

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