Aerial Mobility, Transport Infrastructure, and Urban Design in Asian Cities

Authored by: Max Hirsh

The New Companion to Urban Design

Print publication date:  May  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138302129
eBook ISBN: 9780203731932
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9780203731932-62

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Abstract

This chapter investigates the exponential increase in air traffic over the past 30 years and its impact on the spatial organization and typological order of cities in East and Southeast Asia. In so doing, it links broader shifts in migration patterns and the regulation of international mobility to the emergence of innovative transport typologies and urban districts centered around major transit hubs. The essay begins by outlining the rise of transport megaprojects that conceptualize heavily frequented transport nodes – such as airport hubs and high-speed railway stations – as a tool for realizing large-scale urban expansion and redevelopment plans. These infrastructure-led urban design strategies have yielded costly master-planned urban precincts, designed on a monumental scale, that are poorly integrated into the surrounding built environment, both socially and spatially, and often fail to deliver a substantial return on investment. The chapter then contrasts these projects with transport typologies that are designed for new members of Asia’s flying public, whose movement between cities and across borders is limited by their income, citizenship, and technical literacy. While flexible and responsive to rapidly emerging mobility needs, these developments often represent infrastructural “quick fixes” that are lacking in aesthetic quality. By providing a synthetic overview of both bottom-up and top-down engagements with the leap in aerial mobility in Asian cities, the essay ultimately advances an urban design agenda that incorporates the responsiveness and flexibility of the former with the elevated organizational and aesthetic ambitions of the latter.

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