Article written by 2008 DPDF Urban Visual Studies Fellow Max Hirsh:
Design Aesthetics of Transborder Infrastructure in the Pearl River Delta investigates the development of a “transborder” ferry network that allows passengers in Mainland China to fly through Hong Kong International Airport without going through customs and immigration controls. Located deep inside Guangdong Province, these facilities cater to travelers whose movement across international frontiers is limited by their income or citizenship. Focusing on two of these terminals, Max Hirsh argues that the prevailing emphasis on iconic structures in the architectural history of air travel has overshadowed the emergence of distinctly un-iconic aviation facilities designed to plug less-privileged people and places into broader networks of international air travel. Hirsh locates this infrastructural innovation in the historical context of the region and interrogates its spatial logic and aesthetic composition in an effort to model a new understanding of urban space: one that illuminates an architecture of incipient global mobility that has been inconspicuously inserted into ordinary places and unspectacular structures throughout the Pearl River Delta.