Living on the Line: A Search for Shared Landscapes by Jason Ho

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Abstract

There is no denying boundary walls exist in China and have bearings on the socio-economic, psychological, and corporeal spaces of those who live within the walls and those who are outside them. Indeed, most urban design literature regards boundary walls negatively and would support their eradication. This study recognises the impacts of boundary walls, but it still aims to provide an inkling of how lives are lived, positively, despite these walls, and how people have over time used boundary walls as physical and social structures to help move beyond the bounds and territories imposed on them. To do this, this study maps the lived experiences of a group of vendors whose businesses operate around a boundary wall circling Jimei University in Xiamen, China, to understand how a boundary wall can be ‘broken’ or transgressed. Mapping the vendors leads to a consideration of boundary from a wider perspective, and to understanding the territories and boundaries as a network of relationships. This knowledge allows me to think of design as the facilitation of forming relationships. Following the mapping, the thesis develops a series of boundary design strategies which would provide readers with suggestions for use in their own exploration of creating porous boundaries. In short, this thesis is an investigation of how boundaries in the context of China’s new urbanization can become shared landscapes for the common good.

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