How does clustering affect the urban environment? What are the effects on the urban agglomeration of the Greater Bay Area, one of the fastest developing mega-regions of the world? How are industries re-adjusting given this phenomenon? In the context of the Greater Bay Area development, the clustering strategy allows for the creation of highly specialized technological and manufacturing zones, and it provides the infrastructure for expansion and development areas around urban cores, featuring clustering and specialization as an important strategy both in terms of technological advancement and as a commercial feature (Di Tommaso, Rubini and Barbieri 2012; Zeng 2010; Yu 2015; Zou, Huang, Ma and Dai 2014). In this sense, the case of the relocation and upgrading of the PRP Factory in Guangzhou can be used as an interpretive lens to read what kind of trend is happening in the Greater Bay Area zone involving the urban agglomeration of Guangzhou. The case of PRP Factory, with the relocation of the production in a new plant in Zengcheng New Technological Development Zone and the renovation of the existing manufacturing unit in the Fangcun area for the creation of a cultural creative park, is representative of two parallel and interconnected phenomena: the upgrading of manufacturing infrastructures and the broader expansion of their scope through the inclusion of comprehensive high-tech and cultural services. These two parallel phenomena are the result of several factors, from regional policies to shifting functions in the city and updating manufacturing – which is also reciprocal with the industries’ own vision and expansion.
The concept of incorporating China’s National New Style of Urbanization Plan (2014-2020), Guangdong Province New Town Planning (2016-2020), encourages the enhancement of large-scale regional planning while softening the competition between cities: clustering thus becomes a clear strategy to foster the integration of resources in the PRD region. The formation of expanded PRD economic zones is intended to promote the economic development of the PRD Area, where Macao, Guangdong, Hong Kong and other PRD regions are constantly expanding, while deepening cooperation for mutual joint development (Song and Zhao 2018). Guangzhou has experienced a great expansion during the last 20 years, and it is still expanding towards the rural outskirts. The latest Guangzhou masterplan of 2006 and 2008 emphasizes the city’s spatial development strategy, aiming at creating a comprehensive competitive region in keeping with the regional integration and clustering policies of PRD (Shenzhen-HK, Wuhai-Macao, Guangzhou-Foshan) (Gong, Hu, Chen, Liu and Wang 2018; Berg and Bjrner 2014). In the Development Plan of PRD (2008-2020), Guangzhou is progressively redefining its ambitions from the “export-oriented manufacturing city” towards the image of a global metropolis and a technological, educational and cultural center (Altrock and Schoon 2013).
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