Urban Sponge: Cixi Urban Presinct
The current primary objective for Chinese business/entertainment/culture districts is to symbolise notions of progress via heroic architecture, large open spaces, wide streets and large-scale single developments. This satisfies the market demand for modernity and the governments’ need for demonstrable progress.
BAU’s proposal creates the required super scaled modernity but simultaneously provides a city of intimate scale public spaces, flexible small-scale development, and convenient living. The project attempts to present Cixi as a highly developed humane settlement with values beyond those of economic progress.
The site is conceived of as a sponge which absorbs the influence of the river parkland environment to the west and the urban environment to the east. Along the main road artery an array of towers combine with a continuous winding perimeter block with active edge to provide an urbanism of prestige and permanence. To the riverside edge the building heights are reduced and a winding plan produces south facing active edges facing the park.
Market driven aspirations for chaos-free, green, safe environments dominate all decision making in the planning of residential districts. BAU’s proposal satisfies market demands but also simultaneously creates a district with social and economic opportunities, with a great level of convenience, and with places of unpredictable urban qualities. City beautiful objectives are met by providing an urban scale green hill, upon which residential towers float in ideal modernist space. A street grid dissects this hill to create blocks, with active commercial frontages at ground level, and green housing communities above.