Date of Award

Summer 6-3-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)


Landscape Architecture

First Advisor

Adam Anderson

Second Advisor

Joseph James

Third Advisor

Nick De Pace








As cities expand and grow, urban planning prioritizes efficiency and ease of management, resulting in clean, uncluttered and accessible spaces. The streets are wider and flatter, the buildings more uniform, and the parks more open.

However, this vision of a "beautiful" city ignores the needs of various informal and non-mainstream groups, and obliterates the expression and living space of some people.

Cities become less inclusive, losing the charm and flexibility that come with informal events based on local history and context.

Informal economies and those pushed to the margins will have the opportunity to thrive if cities adopt a more loose and porous approach to planning, providing potential sites for informal activities, such as openings that bring in oxygen and light. Designers should not be entirely in the position of establishing rules and order, but should provide the possibility of spontaneously generated activities. By embracing the unpredictable and uncontrolled nature of informal urban spaces, we can breathe new life into these areas.

This thesis challenges the existing urban system by introducing several interventions that enhance fissures as an invitation to informality. My proposal involves breaking down the boundaries of different surfaces, blurring use and function.

Using selective "thresholds" blurs some spaces, making them even less approachable or welcoming, and makes their purpose unclear. It could create a series of "urban secret gardens" that are only accessible to those willing to enter. The places are selective and have the potential for more varied and informal uses.


View exhibition online: Yusha Miao, Break the Mold



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