Sewing up the city

June 2010

Project Narrative

Jun 1, 2010 11:49 AM
Dai Zhewen

Activated Bond

 to sewing up the city

Project Location:

Jiading Town,Shanghai,China

Project Statement:

Shanghai is undergoing unprecedented urbanization. Along with the over-sprawling development came the decay and erosion of historical neighborhood, which leaves depressing spaces as boundaries between social classes. This project is established to create a spatial model which consists with a market as a core and a loop as a link to arouse public life and activities. Experience and landscape are emphasized in this case to re-weave the isolated historical community and revitalize it as well.

Project Narrative:

The proposed design tries to provide a possible solution to meet the problem of social conflicts in the special period of development in China. As it is known to all, China is a rapidly developing country. However the boom of economy leaves behind unpredictable environmental and social problems which are considered carefully and seriously again till potential troubles emerge.
The development of Shanghai has shown as two period, one is the urbanization, while the other is suburbanization. People are moving to the urban area at first, but after the city environment destroyed, they choose to turn back to the suburban areas, which cause the fierce competition for housing among the rich from the city and the poor in the town. So the problem comes. Immoderate land exploitation inevitably results in the unbalance and neglect of living condition. Furthermore, incomprehension, discrimination, jealousness and inhospitality come as mental gaps among residents.

Historic and current context:

The site located in the western side of Jiading Town, Shanghai, usually called by locals “West Gate” area. It is the origin of the Jiading town since Song Dynasty (960-1279 DC).
The town was thriving during Ming and Qing Dynasty with its two central markets, one in central city and one in west water gate. However, with the rapid (1368-1911 DC) urbanization of Shanghai in recent decades, two markets come to different ends: the one in central city had been renovated and transferred into a pedestrian mall due to its advantageous downtown location, while the another, turned to somehow dilapidated due to its distance from city center, and are now mostly housing tenants of migrant workers with low income.
Now we have to commit that the west gate area appears as an epitome of the intense economic and social conflict in the city. There are three types of housing in this area: the ancient dwellings along the West Gate Street, the public houses built in 70s and 80s, and the commodity houses built in recent years. In each type of housing are the residents representing three social stratums, the middle class, the common people and the migrant workers. The residential segregation is obvious and there’s little communication among these people.
The major landscape elements in the area, the moat, now serves no more than a shear geological division of the two social stratum instead of a commercial transportation corridor in the past or a probable recreation spot nowadays. Moreover, The three bridges built upon it lead only to fences of the new neighborhood for security consideration.
In a word, this area is now ripped apart and can’t achieve the synergistic effect a city usually has.

Design Strategy:

Two key landscape elements are emphasized in the design: loop and market.
After widely investigation and research, we listed the useful existing paths and reconstructed them into a complete framework as functional loops. In the loops, several kinds of public facilities and play courts for different people are settled to create a dynamic combinative area.
On the other hand, we picked out three depressed yards with enough space as nodes. One of them was a traditional market and the others are equivocally used. After the typological analysis of various sorts of markets, we redefine these three courts as appropriate type of markets to attract people from different block in a communicative environment.

The bond:

As we’ve observed, the West Gate Street is currently the most energetic and the only activity space in the neighborhood. This sole public space gives the community a character of introversion and precludes passengers from passing through.
We adopted the form of a series of loops engaged with one another to increase pathways inside and around the neighborhood as well as to form some nodes at the intersection of loops. Three are main loops which form the spatial frame while the others are subordinate. The paths in the loops have to be multi-functional due to spaces limits, so some of them are easily facilitated with, for example, badminton field and ping-pong tables to improve the diversity of activities inside street and attract people from nearby neighborhoods to utilize.(The nearby public houses are especially in lack of such facilities.)
The loop includes the moat and the main street inside the circulate system to turn the original relatively linear space into a more diverse one. With the extended pathway framework implemented, as well as qualified landscape and facilities designed, the accessibility and attraction of the site will be improved. The south-north contact is especially encouraged in the design since this is where the most intense division exists.

The market:

Three markets of different sorts are implemented on the site as an attempt to revitalize the community through local commerce with given condition. In this part the typological analysis of the markets performs as the most significant logical support for our design. The analysis includes the shape and scale of the market, the functions, the features of landscape, the objects, the activities, the environment surround and the cost. According to the analysis, we choose three appropriate types of markets.
One is the existing food market that is necessary for the local residents. After the positive landscape design, it will turn to a mature stage.
The second is a proposed craft and antique market in the site of a demolished elementary school. There’s a traditional popularity of antique exchange in Jiading town. Most antique store gathered in Zhou Bridge area nearby, but with the renovation and transference of Zhou Bridge area into a pedestrian mall, the rent skyrocketed and drove out most of the antique stores. In this area, lots of folk crafts and ancestral antiques are owned by the poor local residents but attractive only to the rich. Thus our proposed market can accommodate those stores and leads to a new destination for both the antique owners and collectors.
The third is a flower and bird market, another traditional Chinese market, located in the west side. As the craft and antique market does, a flower and bird market will bring the poor both incomes and a chance to communicate with people from outer blocks. It is targeted toward a larger residential area in the west of our site.
All three markets are in moderate scales, producing synergistic effect.

The memory:

This design is in memory of the similar lost spaces in the process of civil development and revoke the attention on protecting the traditional features includes buildings, landscape and the living style which is the most important. Only with encouraged communication and effective protection, cities includes Shanghai will be developing in a right track instead of deviation.


May 2010

The Activated Bond

May 30, 2010 11:16 AM
Dai Zhewen

 The Master Plan

History and Existing Condition

Due to the unprecedented urbanization, Jiading, which is an outer district of Shanghai is undergoing the erosion of historical context.

The pavement of the West Gate Street is from Song Dynasty, but it is out of repair for long years, full of sags and crests. Walking and riding on the street is to some extent a tough task especially during rain.

People’s recreation life mainly happen on and along the street, making it a lively street. Yet the linear space also limited the variety of activity.

Abandoned spaces after house demolition

The LianQi Canal was a busy commercial shipment waterway back in Qing Dynasty. Yet it no longer serve the navigation purpose. Along with the fences on bridges, it becomes a geological and social devision between to social stratum.

The new neighhood across the river fences the bridge for security consideration. The bridges are not available, becoming a mere decoration upon the river.

Analysis and Ideas

To create a new relationship between market and community

1.A revived market we regard as an energy core.

2.With a bond collecting the surroundings and attracting the crowds to make the market more available and efficient.

3.Different markets and bonds which follows the same rule form an organized structure model.

4.With more potential bonds the structure model is completed.


Step by step

1.A changing texture:
More public spaces are freed to create a more comfortable living dimension.

2.A changing landscape system:
The boring linear street with little landscape turns to a complex and various landscape system with loops.

3.Changing activities:
More circular paths with facilities create various activities and the open spaces forms interesting living scenes.

4.Changing stream of people:
People are more willing to move around and explore the interior space of the traditional residence, which makes communication possible.

Our Conclusion


Plan_part 1

Plan_part 2

Plan_part 3


The position and orientation of the sections and the perspective views

The paths

Section A: view of narrow pathway

Section B:view of the West Gate Street

Perspective A:narrow pathways pass through ancient dwellings could also be activated.

The bond also creates an linkage between the West Street and the narrow pathways, guiding the pedestrians to have a deeper participation as well as a more thorough experience in the public activities.

Perspective B: view of the West Gate Street,the linear planting deciduous trees provid an interactive space for the pedestrian

Space & Actives

Section C: view of the activity space by the West Gate Street.

Section D: the activity space spread over ancient dwellings act as a space node.

As an important part of the bond, the activity space is a multifunctional node, simultaneously offering the activity space, the pathway, and the possibility of further communication between residents.

Perspective D: a series of activity space spread over the loop turns the whole district into a community center.


Section E: view from new-built commodity houses towards the West Gate Street.

Section F: the two banks of the river consist a recreation loop as a whole.

The paths,markets,activities,landscapes around make the waterfront an interact area,different sectors of the community share their lives here together.

Perspective E:the loop makes the two community divided by the river become more interactive both in mentally and physically.


Section G: view of proposed craft and antique market.

Flowers&birds market is a traditional Chinese market, it provids both trade and communicate space.It fits the way that the old relax themselves. Most local people have some skills to maintain their livelihood.Along with the increase of communication and the set up of the craft&antique market ,the quality of their life would be improved a lot. Everyone everyday goes to food market,they prefer fresh food.So we arange this market in the loop to make this process more interesting.

Perspective F: view of flowers&birds market.




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