The Lost Wall
High density housing is inevitable in an environment such as Beijing. The project experiments with the coexisting relationship between the city’s cultural identity and the new trend of housing development. However, this proposal is not meant to be a physical revival of what has been lost, but rather is an ideological intervention through the use of controversial architectural intrusion. It redefines the project site by sharply contrasting it with the surrounding environment, an allegory of modern China and its destructive treatment of Beijing's historic buildings in the past century. The goal is to reinforce the importance of historic preservation by facilitating a cultural discussion. The selected site for this experiment is located immediately adjacent to the city's second ring highway, where the ancient inner-city wall once stood. It is currently a park built with leftover spaces with minimal uses. To symbolically illustrate the existence of the demolished city wall, a long and narrow building is proposed. The goal is to showcase the city's cultural identity with a contemporary architectural statement.
UNIQUE PROPERTIES / PROJECT DESCRIPTION:
With the 1949 communist revolution, the social and cultural values of China were cataclysmically shaken and altered to such an extent that even long-practiced building methods that had defined urban living in China's capital city were viewed as outdated and no longer relevant. Chinese communists sought to create a fresh, new socialist utopia, and any cultural icon of China's past became suspect. In a race to build up China's industrial capacity, many historic structures were destroyed. They are also the victims of the city's concentric circled ring road highway construction. Also during the 1950’s, a city redevelopment master plan and the "Weigai" system created in the 1980’s have been transforming old "Hutongs" (neighborhoods) into new high-density residential neighborhoods. Historic preservation was put in the bottom of the list of the government’s agenda and not valued by the general public. It is often overshadowed by developers' redevelopment advertisements due to its high profit. Tomorrow’s sustainable architecture shall not be solely limited to green living and energy consumption; it should also be culturally sustainable to the city’s unique history and be part of the overall effort that conveys the urgent need for historic preservation in a city with such a deep cultural value.
OPERATION / FLOW / INTERACTION:
The basic function of the project is residential. Not only does the project formally serves as the symbolic icon of historic preservation. The basic function of the building is equally important. A compact residential design is utilized to reflect the high density of the City of Beijing. It is also meant to release some of the housing pressure the area is facing.
PROJECT DURATION AND LOCATION:
The project is location in Beijing, China. The conceptual realization and the renderings were produced in 2012.
FITS BEST INTO CATEGORY:
Architecture, Building and Structure Design
PRODUCTION / REALIZATION TECHNOLOGY:
The north façade of the building is a solid, thick stone wall with minimal architectural articulation serving as a barrier to protect against the noise generated by second ring road traffic. It is a symbolic representation of the demolished inner-city wall and its protective function against enemies. It also blocks the unpleasant northern wind during Beijing’s winter. South of the thick barrier wall is the “interior atrium”, where the site’s existing identity is preserved. It is intended to be used as a park shared by the occupants and open to the general public. Isolated from the adjacent streets, this overwhelmingly scaled space will provide a tranquil environment for the users. This “void” also allows natural light into the dwelling units similar to the function of a courtyard found in an ancient Beijing courtyard house. A typical dwelling unit is organized vertically with entrances on the first floor. Such organization eliminates the “Motel” style walkway on each floor and maximizes spaces with windows/balconies on both the north and south sides. Punched balconies are located on the southern façade of the building to maximize sunlight. The semi-private green roof is reserved for the occupants, providing a platform for daily exercises and other leisure activities. It not only minimizes the heat island effect, but also allows storm water to be captured for irrigation uses.
SPECIFICATIONS / TECHNICAL PROPERTIES:
The project is located near where the old city wall once stood, it stretches almost a mile. the cross sectional dimension is also a reference of the old city wall, which is 15m wide by 15m high.
Beijing, Historic Preservation, Beijing Courtyard House, Siheyuan and Hutongs
The project is a continuation of the research project in Beijing's historic treatment. For more information, please see http://www.aia.org/practicing/AIAB086563
The challenge lies on the formal expression of the building. The goal of the project is to understand the contradictory relationship between the City of Beijing and its historic treatment to its historic artifacts. The term "contradiction" becomes the key concept of the formal expression.
TEAM MEMBERS (1) :
Yu-Ngok Lo, AIA, LEED AP
Renderer: Yu-Ngok Lo, AIA, LEED AP