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Design for Conservation

Environmental Futures Initiative: Studio Laos


Studio Laos

Instructors: Ashley Scott Kelly; Xiaoxuan Lu

At The University of Hong Kong

Course abstract:

"Strategic Landscape Planning for the Greater Mekong" builds on five years of design-based experiential learning across mainland Southeast Asia by the Division of Landscape Architecture. This year, focusing on the regional impacts of China's Belt and Road Initiative in northern Laos, students spend one term engaging issues of development vis-à-vis landscape architecture to define problems and produce innovative planning proposals. During this process, students develop and deliver a 180-page research report to civil society and international NGOs, conduct fieldwork, individually design future scenarios through large-format maps, diagrams and models, and have their work juried by a cross-disciplinary panel of experts.

For the past two decades, the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Laos) has been reshaped physically, politically and environmentally by neoliberal development projects of the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and bilateral aid agencies. This investment includes complex, capital-intensive infrastructure projects coupled with new biodiversity conservation networks, resettlement of indigenous peoples, creation of new environmental policies, and transformation of rural agricultural economies. Today, the 2013 Belt and Road Initiative asserts China's rapidly advancing role in international development. One of its two key economic corridors in Southeast Asia follows the route of the future Kunming-Singapore Railway across the Mekong region. We will trace Laos's segment of this rail corridor, called the China-Laos (or Boten-Vientiane) Railway, in planning for 16 years, through geologically, culturally and politically complex terrain.

View photos from the field

    HKU students present their planning and design strategies for the China-Laos railway. By Aristo Chan, 2018.
    HKU students present their planning and design strategies for the China-Laos railway. By Aristo Chan, 2018.
    HKU students present their planning and design strategies for the China-Laos railway. By Aristo Chan, 2018.
    HKU students present their planning and design strategies for the China-Laos railway. By Aristo Chan, 2018.
    HKU students present their planning and design strategies for the China-Laos railway. By Aristo Chan, 2018.
    HKU students present their planning and design strategies for the China-Laos railway. By Aristo Chan, 2018.
    HKU students present their planning and design strategies for the China-Laos railway. By Aristo Chan, 2018.
    HKU students present their planning and design strategies for the China-Laos railway. By Aristo Chan, 2018.
    HKU students present their planning and design strategies for the China-Laos railway. By Aristo Chan, 2018.
    HKU students present their planning and design strategies for the China-Laos railway. By Aristo Chan, 2018.
    HKU students present their planning and design strategies for the China-Laos railway. By Aristo Chan, 2018.
    HKU students present their planning and design strategies for the China-Laos railway. By Aristo Chan, 2018.
    HKU students present their planning and design strategies for the China-Laos railway, 2018.
    HKU students present their planning and design strategies for the China-Laos railway, 2018.
    Cultivating Compensation: Teaching landscape value through distributed demonstration grounds along the China-Laos Railway. By WONG Ying Yu Annette, 2018.
    Cultivating Compensation: Teaching landscape value through distributed demonstration grounds along the China-Laos Railway. By WONG Ying Yu Annette, 2018.
    Cultivating Compensation: Teaching landscape value through distributed demonstration grounds along the China-Laos Railway. By WONG Ying Yu Annette, 2018.
    Cultivating Compensation: Teaching landscape value through distributed demonstration grounds along the China-Laos Railway. By WONG Ying Yu Annette, 2018.
    Cultivating Compensation: Teaching landscape value through distributed demonstration grounds along the China-Laos Railway. By WONG Ying Yu Annette, 2018.
    Cultivating Compensation: Teaching landscape value through distributed demonstration grounds along the China-Laos Railway. By WONG Ying Yu Annette, 2018.
    Village survival toolkit for the Mekong's industrial sand grab. By SUN Jingyu Cecilia, 2018.
    Village survival toolkit for the Mekong's industrial sand grab. By SUN Jingyu Cecilia, 2018.
    Village survival toolkit for the Mekong's industrial sand grab. By SUN Jingyu Cecilia, 2018.
    Village survival toolkit for the Mekong's industrial sand grab. By SUN Jingyu Cecilia, 2018.
    Village survival toolkit for the Mekong's industrial sand grab. By SUN Jingyu Cecilia, 2018.
    Village survival toolkit for the Mekong's industrial sand grab. By SUN Jingyu Cecilia, 2018.
    Village survival toolkit for the Mekong's industrial sand grab. By SUN Jingyu Cecilia, 2018.
    Village survival toolkit for the Mekong's industrial sand grab. By SUN Jingyu Cecilia, 2018.
    Strategic Soil Sourcing: Compensation uncertainty and agricultural resiliency along the China-Laos Railway. By LEE Ying Chik Vanessa, 2018.
    Strategic Soil Sourcing: Compensation uncertainty and agricultural resiliency along the China-Laos Railway. By LEE Ying Chik Vanessa, 2018.
    Strategic Soil Sourcing: Compensation uncertainty and agricultural resiliency along the China-Laos Railway. By LEE Ying Chik Vanessa, 2018.
    Strategic Soil Sourcing: Compensation uncertainty and agricultural resiliency along the China-Laos Railway. By LEE Ying Chik Vanessa, 2018.
    Land-for-Landscape: Compensation and landscape-specificity on the China-Laos Railway. By CHAN Lok Tim, 2018.
    Land-for-Landscape: Compensation and landscape-specificity on the China-Laos Railway. By CHAN Lok Tim, 2018.
    Waste-scapes for a Vang Vieng construction boom. By CHUNG Kwan Yu Lillian, 2018.
    Waste-scapes for a Vang Vieng construction boom. By CHUNG Kwan Yu Lillian, 2018.
    Waste-scapes for a Vang Vieng construction boom. By CHUNG Kwan Yu Lillian, 2018.
    Waste-scapes for a Vang Vieng construction boom. By CHUNG Kwan Yu Lillian, 2018.
    Hydrologic Corridor: Landscapes for water security during Luang Prabang's urban expansion. By LEE Jung Bin Max, 2018.
    Hydrologic Corridor: Landscapes for water security during Luang Prabang's urban expansion. By LEE Jung Bin Max, 2018.
    Development Detour: Planning the environmental futures of rural Laos's new corridors. By LI Aijing Jane, 2018.
    Development Detour: Planning the environmental futures of rural Laos's new corridors. By LI Aijing Jane, 2018.
    Choreographing investments: Multisector responses to an expanding China-Laos mineral corridor. By Saw Yu Nwe Sandra, 2018.
    Choreographing investments: Multisector responses to an expanding China-Laos mineral corridor. By Saw Yu Nwe Sandra, 2018.
    Choreographing investments: Multisector responses to an expanding China-Laos mineral corridor. By Saw Yu Nwe Sandra, 2018.
    Choreographing investments: Multisector responses to an expanding China-Laos mineral corridor. By Saw Yu Nwe Sandra, 2018.
    Choreographing investments: Multisector responses to an expanding China-Laos mineral corridor. By Saw Yu Nwe Sandra, 2018.
    Choreographing investments: Multisector responses to an expanding China-Laos mineral corridor. By Saw Yu Nwe Sandra, 2018.
    Living Heritage: Redefining protections for urban expansion in Luang Prabang. By SHUM Hiu Lam Haylie, 2018.
    Living Heritage: Redefining protections for urban expansion in Luang Prabang. By SHUM Hiu Lam Haylie, 2018.
    Sewage to Usage: Resiliency planning and public-private partnerships on Vang Vieng's Song River. By WONG Oi Ling Ellena, 2018.
    Sewage to Usage: Resiliency planning and public-private partnerships on Vang Vieng's Song River. By WONG Oi Ling Ellena, 2018.
    Sewage to Usage: Resiliency planning and public-private partnerships on Vang Vieng's Song River. By WONG Oi Ling Ellena, 2018.
    Sewage to Usage: Resiliency planning and public-private partnerships on Vang Vieng's Song River. By WONG Oi Ling Ellena, 2018.
    Sewage to Usage: Resiliency planning and public-private partnerships on Vang Vieng's Song River. By WONG Oi Ling Ellena, 2018.
    Sewage to Usage: Resiliency planning and public-private partnerships on Vang Vieng's Song River. By WONG Oi Ling Ellena, 2018.
    Sewage to Usage: Resiliency planning and public-private partnerships on Vang Vieng's Song River. By WONG Oi Ling Ellena, 2018.
    Sewage to Usage: Resiliency planning and public-private partnerships on Vang Vieng's Song River. By WONG Oi Ling Ellena, 2018.
    Before the bulldozer: Strategic agricultural cooperation for an uncertain rail alignment. By ZOU Wenyao May, 2018.
    Before the bulldozer: Strategic agricultural cooperation for an uncertain rail alignment. By ZOU Wenyao May, 2018.
    Curating Rural Connectivity: Strategic maintenance of the temporary access roads of the China-Laos Railway. By LAM Hoi Lok Heather, 2019.
    Curating Rural Connectivity: Strategic maintenance of the temporary access roads of the China-Laos Railway. By LAM Hoi Lok Heather, 2019.
    Curating Rural Connectivity: Strategic maintenance of the temporary access roads of the China-Laos Railway. By LAM Hoi Lok Heather, 2019.
    Curating Rural Connectivity: Strategic maintenance of the temporary access roads of the China-Laos Railway. By LAM Hoi Lok Heather, 2019.
    Organic or Ecological: Redeveloping agriculture in Vientiane's rural-urban transformation. By CHAU Li Yin Sabrina, 2019.
    Organic or Ecological: Redeveloping agriculture in Vientiane's rural-urban transformation. By CHAU Li Yin Sabrina, 2019.
    Low-labour Landscapes: An Agricultural response to short-term construction employment on the China-Laos Railway. By CHEANG Brian, 2019.
    Low-labour Landscapes: An Agricultural response to short-term construction employment on the China-Laos Railway. By CHEANG Brian, 2019.
    Low-labour Landscapes: An Agricultural response to short-term construction employment on the China-Laos Railway. By CHEANG Brian, 2019.
    Low-labour Landscapes: An Agricultural response to short-term construction employment on the China-Laos Railway. By CHEANG Brian, 2019.
    Low-labour Landscapes: An Agricultural response to short-term construction employment on the China-Laos Railway. By CHEANG Brian, 2019.
    Low-labour Landscapes: An Agricultural response to short-term construction employment on the China-Laos Railway. By CHEANG Brian, 2019.
    Landscape Knowledge: Challenging "smart city" plans at the China-Laos border. By LEUNG Shui-kay Kerry, 2019.
    Landscape Knowledge: Challenging "smart city" plans at the China-Laos border. By LEUNG Shui-kay Kerry, 2019.
    Invasive Science: Pluralizing conservation metrics in China-Laos knowledge flows. By TANG Chun Wah Richard, 2019.
    Invasive Science: Pluralizing conservation metrics in China-Laos knowledge flows. By TANG Chun Wah Richard, 2019.
    Local Habitat, Transnational Trade: Conservation awareness-building under increasing tourism and illegal wildlife trafficking in the Golden Triangle. By TONG Siyu Yuki, 2019.
    Local Habitat, Transnational Trade: Conservation awareness-building under increasing tourism and illegal wildlife trafficking in the Golden Triangle. By TONG Siyu Yuki, 2019.
    Local Habitat, Transnational Trade: Conservation awareness-building under increasing tourism and illegal wildlife trafficking in the Golden Triangle. By TONG Siyu Yuki, 2019.
    Local Habitat, Transnational Trade: Conservation awareness-building under increasing tourism and illegal wildlife trafficking in the Golden Triangle. By TONG Siyu Yuki, 2019.
    Tunnel portal under construction for China-Laos Railway. By Ashley Scott Kelly, 2018.
    Tunnel portal under construction for China-Laos Railway. By Ashley Scott Kelly, 2018.
    HKU students presenting their studies in Laos, 2018.
    HKU students presenting their studies in Laos, 2018.
    Nam Tha River. By Ashley Scott Kelly, 2018.
    Nam Tha River. By Ashley Scott Kelly, 2018.
    Boten Special Economic Zone at China-Laos border. By Ashley Scott Kelly, 2018.
    Boten Special Economic Zone at China-Laos border. By Ashley Scott Kelly, 2018.