As is the case with many other regions of the world that urbanised rapidly in recent decades (such as the four Asian Tigers, the city-states in the Persian Gulf and even certain portions of northern Africa), one of the average threats to future stability and growth is perceived as the volatility in food prices on the international market. In response, agricultural land – as opposed to the food produced on that land – has itself become the target of acquisitions: wealthy nations are purchasing, more and more frequently, substantial tracts of agricultural territories in other (generally less wealthy) countries. More often than not, this phenomenon takes the form of a post-colonial land grab that enslaves vast agricultural territories of the planet to distant, wealthy urban enclaves.
The countryside is a vital but frequently overlooked category in the contemporary discourse around spatial policy, and its role with respect to the future of urbanism is more often than not neglected. Landgrab City is an attempt to visually represent the broader spatial identity of the 21st century metropolis; it proposes a new spatial definition of the city and thereby a more complex understanding of urbanism, one that no longer considers city limits as the boundary of its remit, but instead looks beyond – even across international borders – to the spatial, social, economic and political implications of the planet’s rapid urbanization.
December 2009 – January 2010: Shenzhen & Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture, Shenzhenwan Avenue, Nanshan