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Alex So

MA work

Made in Nicaragua

The idea of an inter-oceanic canal has been a recurring dream to Nicaraguans. Before the US decided on Panama to construct their canal, Nicaragua was one of the top choices and only fell short of the Panama Canal by four votes within the US Congress. This dream was brought closer to reality in 2013 by a private Chinese investor, Wang Jing. A 100 years concession was granted by Nicaragua government as part of the investment agreement. Facing this old dream to compete with the Panama Canal, Daniel Ortega, the President of Nicaragua, is betting on the new canal to leverage the country out of poverty, while Nicaraguans are divided. Some want to capitalise on the canal, and the others reject it for the negative ecological and social impact.

China is slowly shifting itself from periphery nation to core nation, and no longer holds the advantages it has for manufacturing in low cost labour to maintain its influence on world manufacturing and trading, and instead China moves into ‘infrastructure diplomacy’.

The proposal for a manufacturing megalopolis emerges from the canal construction. Nicaragua will now be the new world factory. Unlike the Panama Canal that created a tax haven by having loose flag state regulations, the strategic values of the Nicaragua Canal will be exploited to continue China’s monopoly with low cost manufacturing.

The year is 2050. The 30-year plan of creating a new manufacturing megalopolis modelled on the Pearl River Delta has been completed in Lake Nicaragua, the freshwater lake that is situated on the canal passage. The plan imagines a highly efficient, automated logistics systems on import and export, an economical and cultural centre, a manufacturing zone, and a series of themed archipelagos for entertainment and tourists. The project intends to simulate the future consequence of the canal construction. In doing so, the project explores the possibility of creating new systems of manufacturing and trading in Central America and raises wider questions of the canal proposal.


  • MA Degree


    School of Architecture


    MA Architecture

  • Degrees

  • BSc (Hons) Architectural Studies, Cardiff University, 2013
  • Experience

  • Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, London, 2018; Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Hong Kong, 2015 - 2016; CDR Studio, New York, 2013 - 2014; Urbanus, Hong Kong / Shenzhen, 2012