Architects: NODE Achitecture & Urbanism
- Area: 30000 m²
- Year: 2019
Photographs:Chao Zhang, Mo Wei
- Principal: Doreen Heng Liu
- Design Team: Doreen Heng Liu, Jiebin Huang, Yun Han, Yijuan Wu, Yang Liu, Zanning Huang，Shihan Zhang, Jingyue Xu, Yiling Ruan, Xiaoyi Ni, Ziqi Peng, Doreen Heng Liu, Jiebin Huang, Yun Han, Yijuan Wu, Yang Liu, Zanning Huang，Shihan Zhang, Jingyue Xu, Yiling Ruan, Xiaoyi Ni, Ziqi Peng
- Curator: Yong Yang
- Construction Drawing: CMACE WHU Design& Research, Urban Planning& Architectural Design Institute of Hunan University, CMACE WHU Design& Research
- Client: People’s Government of Baoan District
- City: Shenzhen
- Country: China
Bao’an sub-venue of 2019 UABB in Qiaotou Village is composed of industrial exhibition area, canal-themed landscape, the Community Park, Qiaotou Theater, and Qiaotou Market. NODE participated in the renovation and design of the latter four, which involve two types of spaces, namely the public space upgrading based on status quo and experimental public space and landscape.
Located in Bao'an District, Shenzhen, Qiaotou Village was named after the peripheral dense river network in the late Northern Song Dynasty. In the past decades, it has evolved from a "land of fish and rice" typical of traditional natural villages in the Pearl River Delta, to a prosperous industrial village focusing on "processing with supplied materials, processing with supplied samples, assembling with supplied parts, and compensation trade" thanks to China’s reform and opening up policy, and then a "urban village" as a result of the rapid urbanization sweeping the country. The village, with dissected historical context and monotonous space, became homogeneous with others nearby. Its evolution epitomizes Shenzhen's opening-up, reform and rapid urbanization and offers a typical example of generic city.
Qiaotou Village was derived from Aojing Canal that once served as the boundary between water and land. Along with the development of various other transportation infrastructures, the canal was covered and became a culvert as a "once-and-for-all" solution. The village buildings, built in different periods with distinctive architectural features of the times, have disappeared or diminished into the rapidly generalized urban fabrics. Booming industries and migrant population have broken the tranquility and balance of the farming community. Heavy traffic and chaotic public spaces made the residential community no longer a safe environment for the elderly and children to conduct their daily activities.
Thanks to the opportunity brought by Bao’an sub-venue of 2019 UABB, we decided to reorganize and renovate the core public spaces of Qiaotou Village. Based on thorough field investigation, the following strategies were proposed: 1. Separate pedestrians from vehicular traffic to give way to slow-traffic circulation and ensure safe daily trips of residents; 2. Highlight the functional characteristics of each public space and simplify/enhance the existing site as needed; 3. Enhance the slow-traffic loop and public experience, and link up the industrial exhibition area, river landscape, community park, market, theater, and buildings of different historical periods to offer diverse daily experience.
KU Landscape – Memories on Terrain: Themed Public Landscape
The public landscape, 210 meters long and 16 meters wide, is the only link between the main exhibition area in the factory buildings and the exhibition area of Qiaotou Village. The site used to be part of the Aojing Canal, which flowed from under the dam of Lixin Reservoir through Qiaotou Village into the Pearl River estuary. The once open natural canal was covered due to odor and years of industrial pollution. The construction had been completed awaiting marble pavement when NODE got involved.
Of all the design possibilities, culvert could be among the most straightforward yet least thoughtful solutions. It ignores the local geographic and historical context, leaving homogeneous village spaces that can hardly distinguish themselves from those around. How could we recall the memories about the canal once running on the terrain and trace back its original identity? Through reflection on and redesign of the existing site, we aimed to explore its possibilities from the perspectives of landscape architecture and sociology.
Qiaotou Village, as its name suggests, used to have a well-developed network of water transportation. Water was also an integral element for the daily farming life then. Unfortunately, rapid urbanization has wiped out the natural scene and farming culture here. Under the theme of UABB, we explored the experimental and communal nature of the design, endeavoring to extend the engineering infrastructures into communal landscape with some social significance. Our first idea was to reopen the canal and resume the once open natural landscape for the community. After this was denied, we proposed to implant a new artificial "canal" on the original site. This new “canal”, as a "memories on the terrain", was expected to bring back the unique memories about this place and rustic natural landscape of the village.
Our concept of “dry (KU) landscape” continues the features of the original canal and farming tradition. The long and narrow site appear like a static river and terrain. The undulating landscape is shaped by ups, downs and squeezes underneath the terrain. The surges show signs of life through the gaps torn open. The regrown crops and human activities of unforeseen future suggest that the people and memories passing away are now returning in another form.
Tectonics of “Water”
We worked out the intent spatial image of the landscape through paper folding. After we compared various paper-folded models, one was finalized and 3D-scanned. Given pressing schedule and construction difficulties, the control points were reduced from previous 20,000 points to 500 horizontal ones for a unit sized 1.5m x 1m with the height defined as the same in 3D scanning. With efficient parameter-based conversion, the undulating forms were turned into quantifiable, operable and implementable scheme.
As every control point had its own unique three-dimensional coordinate, the site construction became very challenging. Thanks to the on-site setting-out and adjustments, as well as rounds of discussions with the construction contractor on the implementation plan of the steel structure and finish materials, the project was eventually completed within two months as scheduled.
We experimented with various materials to represent the traces once on the terrain: brushed cement for the undulating and folded triangular surface and white sculpture cement for the wading area. The seemingly lifeless hard industrial cement of the triangular surface specially designed on the white cement ground, when it rains, would form safe ponding areas, reminding people of the canal when they wade across or paddle with the water. The earth-covering surface was “cut” open to grow “analogous crops” like miscanthus sinensis, muhlenbergia capillaris, dwarf pampasgrass, white and pink kales, bringing back a long-lost agricultural scene decades ago and creating a rustic landscape within the bustling urban setting. These heterogeneous materials were mixed to freely unfold on the surface of the 210-meter-long box culvert, simulating the terrain with natural river and the
The canal-themed landscape was an inspiring experiment that created landscape through an approach that involved no physical one. The abstract earthscape features showed the architect’s critical reflection on and re-creation of the nature and farming culture that had rapidly disappeared as result of rapid urbanization. The creative use of this public landscape by community users of varied ages after the opening of 2019 UABB on Dec. 22 also made us realize the significance and strength of design in rebuilding community life and characteristic spaces.
The 5,600 m² Community Park provided a convenient shortcut between the canal-themed landscape and the Qiaotou Theatre. The site was covered by untrimmed vegetation and included a few hard-pavements. Due to considerable inactive spaces, monotonous function, low utilization efficiency and safety reasons, the only thing the elderly and children could do here was to sit on benches by the hard pavement, and almost no one stayed in the park after nightfall.
As one of a few community parks around the village, the Community Park was expected to play a more active role as a public urban space. To achieve this, the previous monotonous functions should be redefined to create public open spaces for social interaction and sitting of residents at leisure time and offer a safe playing environment for children. The park also meant to be an important connection node for UABB exhibition areas, while accesses leading to those exhibition areas were set up and could be found in the urban interface. By opening up the previously enclosed interface, the park became a crossroad for visitors to and from the exhibitions.
In the design, a “simplified” approach was adopted. The specific measures were to preserve the large arbors in the park whenever possible and clear away poorly-growing small trees and shrubs; to avoid unnecessary elevation difference at the site to spare spaces for children’s sand pool as well as fitness and resting areas for people of different ages; to make full use of the small height difference between existing micro-topography and the sand pool to provide resting benches for grandparents looking after the children; to establish visual connection among the “simplified” functional and activity areas to largely enhance the safety of the public space; and to provide well-equipped lighting facilities to create a 24-7 community park that is safe and friendly for all-age users in the community.
Built in 1979, Qiaotou Theatre presents distinctive architectural characteristics of that time. The 650 m² front square, originally the audience area of the theatre, was the center of the residents’ daily activities. Along with the expansion of urban village, lifestyle changes and rapid development of motor transit, it has become a crossroad of the village but suffered from inefficient space uses due to the mixed traffic of vehicles, electric bikes and pedestrians, and the random parking of motor vehicles in the peripheral area.
Our design strategy was derived from the critical reflection on rapid transit and the respect for characteristics of the historical spaces. The plan was to bring back slow traffic and appropriately scaled public square to this hub area. Based on researches on existing traffic conditions and the underground parking space planning for future urban renewal, we decided to enhance the traffic condition of the intersection in front of the theatre and create a holistic square space in front and at the back of the theatre.
Externalization of Public Square and Theatre
The Qiaotou Theatre sits on a gentle slope of the village. Considering the actual viewing needs of audience and inspired by the Siena Square in Italy, we created a viewing area where audience could sit or lie on the square by taking advantage of the slight height difference of the site. Meanwhile, varied pavement materials were used to clearly define the square space and vehicular space of the theatre, offering active and safe public spaces. This made the traditional theatre building more recognizable and again an active player in the communal life of residents.
Qiaotou Market Street
Flanking the village’s main access, Qiaotou Market consisted of two buildings in one or two floors, one in rectangular plan and the other in a protruding geometry that resembles the Chinese character “凸”. As a center for the residents’ daily interaction, the market had considerable pedestrian and vehicular traffic at the entrance. the chaotic environment also led to a poor recognizability. In this context, we tried a modest solution to add or remove elements to the market. The goal was to create a simple and “orderly” market entrance, thus exploring the function and role of micro building renovation in public urban space.
For instance, a canopy in equivalent height as the rooftop was added at the cut on the protruding side of the building, redefining the relation between street and building while offering an additional public space at the bell-mouthed access, the former traffic entrance, for people to stay. The vertical structural beams alternated with the diagonal ones, while the structural columns of the latter were removed. Beams in two different directions formed an integral load-bearing structural system, creating a flexible and attractive multi-purpose space.
The renovations, larger or micro, to the previously fragmented public spaces of Qiaotou Village were conducted based on their characteristics and locations, linking up the outdoor exhibition routes of the UABB sub-venue and, more importantly, offering daily leisure places for the residents to enjoy the activities they prefer. Yet fast design and fast construction to meet UABB schedule also left many regrets. It was indeed a shame that several spaces were not realized as planned, such as the outdoor micro terrain of the Qiaotou Theater, and the linking public passage that passed through the indoor part of the market. Hopefully they could be implemented in the near future.