Knock it down and start from scratch. Unfortunately this is the standard for many large-scale developers around the world - knock it down, and build a large, better version. But is that always the right choice?
This is the same question that AFR ThinkingUrban asked, when we were presented with the opportunity to design a modern financial centre in the middle of what now is an ancient village in Bo Gang - a city district of Hui Zhou in southern China. The challenge here was how to build something modern, without destroying a hundred years old cultural heritage. And the answered AFR came up with was - Build on top of it.
A building which almost doesn't touch the ground. While at ground level, the charming brick buildings of the original village of Bo Gang are renovated and rebuilt, a 6 storey financial centre will be built above. The new 30 000 m2 Financial centre is designed to step outwards every 2 storeys, thus allowing light to reach the ground level buildings. Thus the re-establishment of Chinese society is seen to evolve from the roots of the countryside and the work of the people who live there.
These maintain the spirit of the old street culture and to these are added other old buildings of note from the surrounding community. Buildings which would otherwise be lost to posterity.