Experimental Urban Vision
Eleven young architects collaborate to design
high-density urban nature in China: Atelier Manferdini (USA),
BIG (Denmark), Dieguez Fridman (Argentina), Emergent/Tom Wiscombe
(USA), Hou Liang Architecture (China), JDS (Denmark/Belgium), MAD
(China), Mass Studies (Korea), Rojkind Arquitectos (Mexico), Serie
(UK/India), Sou Fujimoto Architects (Japan).
In 2008, MAD organized and invited 11 young international
architects to carry out an urban experiment to design the Huaxi
city center of Guiyang, in South Western China. The Masterplan was
developed by Shanghai Tongji Urban Planning and Design Institute,
Studio 6, together with MAD.
In the past 15 years, around 10 billion square meters of built space has been created in the urban areas of China. In 20 years time, another 200 to 400 new cities will be built. Until now, the results of this overwhelming urbanization have been defined by high-density, high-speed and low-quality duplication making the urban space meaningless, crowded and soulless.
Is there an alternative future for our cities that lies in the
current social condition, where new technologies leave
the machine age behind, and where the city increasingly invades the natural space?
Based on an Eastern understanding of nature, this joint urban experiment aims to explore whether we can use new technologies and global ideas to reconnect the natural and man-made world.
The site of Huaxi is famous for its dramatic and beautiful landscape, as well as a diverse mix of minority cultural inhabitants during its history. Its future is defined by the local government's urban planning as a new urban centre for finance, cultural activities and tourism.
MAD brought the young architects together here in the summer of 2008, for a 3-day workshop to create an experimental urban vision for Huaxi.
Each architect provided a unique design for a single part of the
masterplan, based on their own understanding
and interpretation of the local natural and cultural
The result is a series of organic individual buildings, growing from the natural environment, and working together to produce a compound of diverse urban activities.
In this high density urban environment, the limits of
urbanization are controlled and set by nature; the buildings take
on the dynamic topography of the site, touching the landscape in a
more interactive way. Generic verticality is replaced by a complex
taxonomy of urban activities, defined by a multiplicity of
connections, detours and short cuts. The natural and the
artificial are fused together, revealing an image of a future
The ecological method here is not just focused on saving energy; rather, the goal is to create a new, balanced urban atmosphere which can evoke the feeling of exploring the natural environment. The city is no longer determined by the leftover logic of the industrial revolution (speed, profit, efficiency) but instead follows the "fragile rules" of nature.
This collaborative experiment thus provides an alternative,
responsive model for the development of the urban centre: a
man-made symbiosis, in harmony with nature, in which people are
free to develop their own independent urban experience.
Atelier Manferdini, USA
Dieguez Fridman, Argentina
Emergent/Tom Wiscombe, USA
Hou Liang Architecture, China
Mass Studies, Korea
Rojkind Arquitectos, Mexico
Sou Fujimoto Architects, Japan
Last updated: December 14, 2012