In the southern Chinese city of Hui Zhou, the city district of Bo Gang is being redesigned. A new high speed rail link to Shen Zhen and new roads carve through the old street pattern of the area. AFR are helping to integrate the necessary new buildings together with the best of the existing buildings and social structure of the area. A new urban parkway is a major part of the new design as well as a heritage key points and the restoration of the existing architecture.
With the hill as a natural backdrop, the first phase includes a balanced mix of residential apartments and offices. These share the site with a shopping mall in 3 storeys which blends into the existing pedestrian areas of the town.
Bringing people safely across the road is an exciting new concept of a SkyPark. This leads from the cafés and rooftop park of the shopping mall, across the busy roadway and into the area a new international hotel and congress centre.
Adjacent to this development is a unique innovation in architecture. At ground level, the charming brick buildings of the original village of Bo Gang are renovated and rebuilt. 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. Above this city block springs a new financial centre in 6 storeys - stepped outwards to give light and air. Thus the re-establishment of Chinese society is seen to evolve from the roots of the countryside and the work of people of people who live there.
Hui Zhou Night View
Premium Corner Apartment Night
Premium Corner Apartment Daylight
Xiang Xi Bao - the continuing story
Xiang Xi Bao is a small town in southern China where time has stood still to an amazing degree. Once a busy river port in the transit of spices, the town lost all relevance when that trade disappeared. Nothing has changed the town, its fortress castle and its buildings since the era of the Chinese emperors. No political turmoil, no cultural revolution. Today the town of Xiang Xi Bao is a historical treasure of immense importance.
AFR have been invited to support the careful redevelopment of the community, the buildings, castle and temples and to integrate that response to the people who actually live in the town.
There are several challenges in the project. One is how to carry out a major restoration of the town and yet let the citizens remain in place. The other is how to balance the tourist interest from outside so that excessive numbers of visitors do not diluted the quality of the town. Much of impact of these dilemmas is absorbed by AFR's plan of "Inverse Space Development". This concentration on the space between the viable buildings allows much leeway for investment and progress. By using this common space and the many existing uninhabitable buildings there is ample room for considerable development - also economically for the townspeople.
In simpler terms we concentrate on the common spaces between existing buildings, the squares and the alley's . To this is added the many abandoned houses. The buildings to be restored first are those which today have no roofs and are uninhabited ruins. In this way the fabric of the community is quickly regenerated and rapidly attracts revenue. With increased inward investment comes jobs, income and grants for the population.
Places like Xiang Xi Bao need careful planning that lifts their economy and allows sensitive development of the town's assets. AFR have developed these kinds of tools which bring intelligent new thinking to the task.
Urban planning that comes to the aid of fragile communities needs to be able to listen to and understand all the different needs of the people involved. Even the way of communicating needs to b created and tuned before the right dialogue has value. In Xiang Xi Bao AFR has created a different type of urban modelling as a means of communicating.
One of the original wall paintings from the Xing dynasty still visible in one of the temples.
The quality of the buildings and their materials is still clearly evident in the old market square.
Bolou Agricultural Research Centre
Chinese agriculture feeds about 20% of the world population from only about 10% of the world land area. For 1000's of years, Chinese agriculture has lead the world in production and crop protection. To this day, the historical heritage in plant yield is finding new expression in a wide range of environmentally sustainable research projects. As part of this effort, AFR has support the Bolou Research Centre with the planning of their new facility
Bolou Agricultural office, Guang Dong
Renderings by Marco Crawford, AFR, Edinburgh
Heritage and Financial Centre Bo Gang
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.
Residence for a family in Taiwan
Households of three generations are still popular in many parts of Asia and the Asian Pacific area. Grandparents, parents and children find that there is a sensible balance in the household. This residence is somewhere in between and is designed more like a small community of families. The families with small children have a separate wing. The older generation have their own and in between there is a generous area of shared space. Although the building is large, it is designed to keep a domestic scale, yet be able to support corporate entertaining when necessary.
The actual architecture is well suited to the semi-tropical climate. Scandinavian standards of insulation maintain the inner areas cool in summer without much aircon and warm in winter with only minimum heating. Needless to say, the AFR design balances well with the principles and details of feng shui
Residence at night
Renderings by Marco Crawford, AFR Edinburgh
Renderings by Marco Crawford, AFR Edinburgh
Chao Zhou Job Creation Project
Place-Making is a new type of Urban Planning. The physical infrastructure has to be in place of course, but the vitality of the urban economics and the creation of value are also components which really make a "place to live". Job building is part of the process.
This live project is a dynamic example of Place-Making. The city of Chao Zhou has been a centre of craftmanship in southern China through several dynasties of emperors. Many jobs in the city still depend on the crafts industry. However the products of the craft workshops have little appeal to the new China or to the global markets of the 21st century. As demand drops away, the workshops loose customers and the traditional skills disappear.
This project aims to redefine the crafts profession with innovative new designs and to establish a thriving base for the up and coming generations. Time is running out for the aging generation of crafts people, and to stimulate a new thriving environment for the future of the skills and professions of the crafts, new input is being put in place.
AFR is at the forefront of this truly urban planning project. We inject new designs and promote the commercial viability necessary for the city to maintain the values of its skills. The first steps are already collecting acclaim and recognition. The Beyond Art exhibition premiered the artistic skills of Chao Zhou at the Pallazzo delle Stelline in Milano in November 2014. Much to the delight of the most discerning of the Italian art world.
The STREET reinvented in Denmark
All too often modern cities are divided up into single use zones like housing or education, or industry. Yet the most successful older communities throughout the world are almost all mixed uses. In addition, the way we move and interact in modern thinking is divided up into a kind of traffic apartheid - walking, cycling, driving.
In designing the new concept for an old railway siding area in a downtown area in Denmark, we reached back to a mixed community idea. Spaces are based on mixed traffic streets - still with safety in mind. There are offices, small workshops, shops and cafés and all the human uses of buildings that are not detrimental to the environment. With the nearby campus, there is student accommodation. And there are penthouses too, catching the outstanding views across the river and forest to the west. And affordable housing for families in between.
Banished too is the idea that a housing block should be a small tower set in a lawn. Here the spaces have a hierarchy of public, semi-private and private. So there are secure spaces for prams to sit outside and the neighbours' parking is under the watchful eye of shared residents. The city centre is not far distant and so we predict a lot of cyclists. The positioning of the students accommodation is placed at the far end of the site so that the students would walk through the community every day - generating interest, occasional sitting areas and adding to the street picture.
Its a high density place, dynamic and with a mix of incomes and diverse services. From the really elegant cities of Bristol, Bath, Edinburgh, Copenhagen and Paris we borrow the really pleasant shapes of buildings in a crescent and circle. There are times when the aesthetics of good townscape need to be redeployed in a modern context.