extra-large private space as public space
This design brings diversity and openness to this typically enormous Chinese housing development. Approximately 11,000 residents will live in over 100 apartment buildings on the 35ha site.The program also includes a range of mixed use and commercial buildings.
The project is organized into 13 city blocks that are linked by a series of park, commercial, public transport, and road networks. These networks unite the site and connect it with the surrounding city while providing a place for residents to recreate and establish informal communities. Each of the 13 blocks has a different identity and density. Eleven blocks are housing communities. One block is a mixed-use district in and around an existing village. The final block is a single-occupant-home-office (SOHO) development situated above supermarket, services and retail. A string of small commercial programs connects the larger ones and creates a commercial network across the site.
Originally the 13 blocks were independent gated communities and the parkland was open to the city. This project proposed 13 permeable and integrated city blocks with parkland that was both public and belonging to the community.
For the developer the small size of the communities was too radical a departure from the Chinese typology. To maintain a public character, especially in the sharing of resources, the size of the gated communities needed to go to the other extreme; the site has now only two gated communities, each so large that they essentially become public.
The project is situated in a new satellite town of Wuxi. The urban design framework of the town indicates that this project’s site is intended to be the district’s commercial centre. In a typically pragmatic and fluid approach to town planning the government allowed the developer to radically change the functional zoning of the site. The immediate context was likewise in planning flux as we designed this project. The neighbouring sites are now set to become shopping centres, placing our planned commercial blocks in flux.
Following the urban design concept the housing design develops 13 blocks in different scale and character. Each block has a similar mix of apartment types making each stage and each site suitable for an economic and social mix of people. An emphasis has been placed on providing residents with a place where informal community structures can readily emerge, an idea rarely taken into account within the majority of housing developments.