Developing the Littoral Gradient

Brent D. Ryan (Department of Urban Studies and Planning, MIT)
Fadi Masoud (Department of Urban Studies and Planning, MIT) 

The process of coastal land reclamation is heavily associated with real estate development and the protection of agricultural land in China .  In 2010 alone, China reclaimed 135 km2 of land resulting in earnings of more than 7.82 billion yuan (US$1.27 Billion). While the value of coastal real-estate has long been established, an increasingly evident and underplayed link between the costs associated with artificially reclaiming land, housing affordability, ecological consequences, increased vulnerability, and the resulting inflexible forms of urbanization is beginning to emerge. 

This research project looks at the process of land reclamation as an untapped lens for evaluating and developing adaptive forms of coastal urbanization. The first phase of the project includes the development of a case-study “atlas” of real-estate developments built on reclaimed land in China.  The visual atlas combines a series of parameters that include environmental, typological, technological, social, and economic factors to form a research-based quantitative analysis of development on reclaimed land. Concurrently, the project is prototyping new responsive and dynamic terrain models for future real-estate developments on artificially constructed coastal lands. We aim to leverage the vulnerability and failures facing existing coastal developments as an occasion to design and propose novel, resilient, adaptive, and profitable real-estate developments on new forms of dynamic and flexible reclaimed land in China and beyond.