Date of Award

Spring 6-4-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)


Landscape Architecture

First Advisor

Nick De Pace

Second Advisor

Larissa Belcic


China is now experiencing rapid urbanization and a significant movement of migrants from their original villages to established core cities. The homogenization resulting from the massive urbanization led to the identity crisis of the city itself, as well as the rural migrant workers, a phenomenon described as “Placelessness” (Edward Relph, 1976). As one of the Chinese megacities, Chongqing has gradually become placeless due to its fast-growing economy. Still, there are moments and places in Chongqing that reveal the migrant nature of the city and its close link with migrant laborers. In the thesis, such moments and places are defined as “Footholds” for rural workers in the urban context.

By studying the “Urban footholds” in Chongqing through the lens of its large rural migrant population, this thesis aims to form a growing foothold network that will evolve with the city's expansion. The study departs from the analysis of the physical setting, as well as on-site activities and the perspective of the workers’ experience in two typical sites, both of which present a tight bond between Chongqing and the rural migrant workers: the old clothing market in Yuzhong district; and the ongoing construction site in Yubei District. Several human-related conditions and landscape elements are extracted from the sites to understand the essence of Chongqing as a “place” and rural workers as a floating community. Eventually, these elements are utilized and integrated as a series of design and planning strategies to develop the foothold network that aims to not only serve as a mental map for rural workers to trace back their experiences in the city, but also as a testing ground for the next generation of immigrants coming to the city. The final goal of this thesis is to form a new contemporary metropolitan system for rural populations through landscape strategies. Such a system can not only become the stepping stone for immigrants to root their lives in the new city, but can sustain new urban platforms to benefit the city itself.


View exhibition online: Xinlei Gu, Arriving in the city



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