Re-thinking SuZhou Creek Winning Proposal / ohm architekti

Re-thinking SuZhou Creek Winning Proposal / ohm architekti
Courtesy of ohm architekti

The winning design in the Re-thinking Shanghai competition for SuZhou Creek by ohm architekti proposes a city that changes in time and place, and is always perceived differently. They have created a new and unique neighborhood that is always changing, where you can set up a shop or a house and still have access to the full spectrum of surroundings. Traditional long-lasting connections are broken and new temporal connections are created – such that form only when they are convenient. A new flexible neighborhood is born with a city structure that is in motion. More images and architects’ description after the break.

Men distort and bend reality in order to maintain their face. Enhancing our image places us higher on imaginary scale of public opinion. Monotone grayness is covered by fancy facade, pretending to be special, but still empty on the inside. Monoculture fields of unified hi-rise offer forced equality to everyone.

It is in the human nature to shape their surroundings. We adapt it to suit our needs, to identify. But we can also ADOPT the surrounding as it is, give it a new meaning. We create a temporal city, one that changes in time and space. Let’s use empty capacity, and offer it for inhabitation. The city is a result of our will. Do not be afraid to use it as it was never intended to be used.

Doing embankments “European-style” is wrong for Chinese cities. Promenades and green belts all the way along the riverbank do not bring any considerable value to the places. More then not it is a place which you cannot use, a place you would rather pass by, as it does not offer shelter or a place to sit. It alienates the river from its surrounding: It is a second, more subtle and thus much more overlooked barrier between the riverbanks.

Think about Chinese cities – they are well known for their living public space. And yet this is what makes Chinese cities truly unique – a public space that is actually used, even exploited by many. Not in a planned, top-down way, but in a spontaneous, much more personal one. People are not afraid to spend their time out – indeed this is often given by necessities, but over the years it has become a way of live. Do not forget about this trait – it is one often unseen yet more than often wanted in many cities across the globe.


The river has a potential. It always had and it indeed is not new to propose that the river should be utilized. It is vast open space in the middle of dense city. But it can become vast public space. Such that allows you to use it in a way the streets and roads cannot be: It can serve travel and transportation, yes. But it is the program also that can be transported. One cannot easily move on the river on its own – unless one possesses a boat – this is a fact that is not limiting. It means large objects can be moved on the river, stopped, or connected. Accessed from the banks. The river can become a plug-in city in its own way.

time map diagram

Thus we can reverse the city to a place where people stay, while the program comes to them. Modern cities are so dependent on traffic – everyone needs to go somewhere during the day. Here we have a unique opportunity to change this – it is a program that can come to its user, not the other way around. One can stay at his neighborhood and have a market under his windows in the morning, festival at noon and an entertainment district at night. You can shop, contact your government or have fun at one place. And you will not be limited by selection – the public space is open to anyone willing to offer his services.

embankments diagram

Architects: ohm architekti Location: SuZhou Creek, Shanghai, China Team: Jan Karasek, Ondrej Dusek, Lukas Makovsky, Jana Brankova Area: 711,000 m2 Year: 2012

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Cite: Alison Furuto. "Re-thinking SuZhou Creek Winning Proposal / ohm architekti" 12 Jul 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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