Counterpart Cities:
Climate Change and Cooperative Action in Hong Kong and Shenzhen

How can the cities of Hong Kong and Shenzhen work collaboratively to address the vulnerability of their infrastructure to the effects of climate change? Counterpart Cities brings together six design teams from both cities to research and propose collaborative responses to the systemic challenges of climate change in the region.

Hong Kong and Shenzhen are counterpart cities in a single interdependent system. Hong Kong, the former colony turned global trading and finance hub, now a Special Administrative Region of China; Shenzhen, the so-called “instant city” conceived by Deng Xiaoping as an experiment in capitalism, now among the nation’s most dynamic of cities. Joined by the world’s busiest border crossing, Hong Kong and Shenzhen already form a single metropolis—of sorts. While diverse urban systems in the two cities are already highly integrated many barriers to collaborative action between them persist, as do other meaningful links between Hong Kong and Shenzhen and the larger Pearl River Delta Megalopolis including Macau, Zhuhai and Guangzhou.

Much attention has been given to the economic, political and cultural changes following the establishment of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone in 1980 and the handover of sovereignty over Hong Kong to China in 1997. Climate change: both the local effects of global climate shifts and the results of direct human intervention on the ecology of the Delta, will ultimately have even more profound effects on the region. Extreme conditions of drought and rain threaten the steady provision of water for the two cities; escalated storm surges and sea level rise endanger the economic productivity of their ports; and increased flood frequencies, especially along the Shenzhen River, require new infrastructural strategies. These are examples of the systemic nature of the challenge of climate change, revealing the interdependencies between Shenzhen and Hong Kong. At the same time that the incremental challenge of climate change threatens the continued growth of the region, opportunities for collaborative action suggest innovative future forms of urbanism. How can competition over economic productivity, integrated natural resource management, and the physical proximity of the two cities be marshaled?  Counterpart Cities imagines collaborative futures for the world’s most dynamic urban region.



Chief Curator: Terence Riley
Project Curators: Jonathan D. Solomon & Dorothy Tang
Research Partner: ARUP
ARUP Coordinators: Dr. Ricky Tsui & Dr. Iris Hwang
Design Team Leaders: Stefan Al, Guochuan Feng, Doreen Liu, Vincci Mak, Tom Verebes, Xiongyi Zhu
Research Associate: Ashley Scott Kelly
Research Team: Mark Berlinrut, Chun Ho Chan, Chun Wing Wayne Fok, Chris Qian Zhang
Special Thanks: Adam Bobbette (HKU), Joshua Bolchover (HKU),
Rodolphe el-Khoury (University of Toronto), Weiwen Huang ( Shenzhen Center for Design ), Matthew Pryor (HKU), Charles Waldheim (Harvard University).
Graphic Design: Milkxhake
Photography: Vincent Tsang
Translations: Patty Hsieh
Sponsors: Shenzhen • Hong Kong Bi-city Biennale of Urbanism \
Architecture Organizing Committee,
Environment and Conservation Fund, Hong Kong,
Environmental Campaign Committee, Hong Kong,
University of Hong Kong, Faculty of Architecture