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A urban vision for Xiangmen : an architectural design project in the old town Suzhou

Salvatore Andrea Bilardo

A urban vision for Xiangmen : an architectural design project in the old town Suzhou.

Rel. Michele Bonino. Politecnico di Torino, Corso di laurea magistrale in Architettura Costruzione Città, 2016



Nowadays it is proper to say that China is one of the countries, or maybe the first, with the greatest growth and highest potential urban development. Furthermore the factors leading to a rumination on the mode of action and the resulting responsibilities. Right now the urban population exceed the rural one with its 51% still to increase up to 83% in 2035, when the process will be stabilized. The figures of urban growth are stunning: 23 Chinese cities have a population of over 5 million people whereas just three cities in the whole Europe have. Many cities will become mega-cities following Shanghai, Beijing and Tianjin that already have more than 10 million inhabitants and China's urban system may evolve into several different scenarios. The urban population asks for services and facilities leading to a design approach based on big numbers. This make Chinese architects reduce the time for design and construction. The project is becoming very fast, i.e a mechanic process as if it were an industrial production without the time to go over it. All these factors have created the typical Chinese urban environment with its low-house buildings cut by high skyscraper blocks. The concept of sustainability at any scale of intervention becomes a key to solve the problem of an architecture that is trying to find its identity. The Government is willing to recognize its architectural identity through icons and images, looking up to the western life style that creates an hybrid architecture. This is the consequence of the new global position that China took at the end of the Cold War and after the Cultural Revolution, when the reconstruction was massive and the economic situation started to have great influence on the architectural design process. The current capitalistic economic system creates a urbanization that has produced new forms of inequality, both social and spatial which arose in the recent years. The American architect Peter Eisenman, in his essay "Critical Architecture in a Geopolitical World" discusses the problem of the theoretical lack in Chinese architecture, as well as the influence of economic issues over it. The theoretical Chinese architect Ho Chang claims the necessity to have a controversial architecture in China, too, to go against the current consumer society, through the re-interpretation of radical forms and vernacular architecture. China wants respect and visibility, so the Government requests recognizable, impressive and iconic worldwide architectures. The "Archistars" design the most important buildings in order to celebrate the achieved importance of the country. China becomes the new international set for architects like Manhattan was one hundred years ago. Thus competing to built the highest skyscraper is an attempt to impose and show the Chinese superiority over its competitors. The great Chinese figures, the economic growth give the possibility and the need to built, but right now China is still there, trying to find its own way. Right now working in China for a western architect could have a lot of meanings. First of all it is a design challenge, controlled by the differences between European knowledge and background and the developing rules of the Asian country. Secondly the comparison between different types of living that could affect the architecture giving advantages to the whole social life. Furthermore, grasping a different concept of past as part of the present and not only as memory may reverse the Chinese thinking. All these concepts have to be supported by ideas of sustainability and integration, i.e basic rules for good architecture.

Relators: Michele Bonino
Publication type: Printed
Subjects: A Architettura > AO Design
G Geografia, Antropologia e Luoghi geografici > GD Estero
Corso di laurea: Corso di laurea magistrale in Architettura Costruzione Città
Classe di laurea: New organization > Master science > LM-04 - ARCHITECTURE AND ARCHITECTURAL ENGINEERING
Aziende collaboratrici: UNSPECIFIED
URI: http://webthesis.biblio.polito.it/id/eprint/4836

1.Chinese growth

1.1.Why Study Chinese Architecture

1.2. Urban Environment Today

2. City of Suzhou

2.1. Suzhou Today

2.2. The Ancient Suzhou

2.3. Canal System

2.4. The Gardens

2.5. Urban Scene

2.6. Courtyard Dwelling

3. A urban Vision for Xiang Men

3.1. Project Area

3.2. Site analysis

3.3. The Concept

3.4. The Masterplan

3.5. Urban Design

3.6. Landscape

4. The Architectural Design

4.1. Urban Block

4.2. Design

4.3. The Building

4.4. Functions & Paths

4.5. Private Elevated Courtyard

4.6. Case studies

5. Conclusions

6. Postcards from China




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