Chengqi John Wan
Peoples-Ambitious Happy Land
Nomination, H.I. Feldman Prize
What if urban design straddles both local and regional ambitions, yet remains meaningful and relevant to the communities it serves? The Tonghui riverfront in central Beijing is a difficult, forgotten post-industrial railway landscape, only because its latent potential has not been realized. These places can be the foundations for insurgent public spaces; self-made urban spaces that range from reclaimed and re-appropriated sites, to temporary events and informal gathering places. We approach the question of city-healing not through a singular top-down strategy, but instead through the analysis of site-specific, unique situations. This produces urban experiments which address both the problems and opportunities of found urban sites. We see programme not as a singular, unyielding thing, but as a limitless list of possibilities generating a continuous urban laboratory in which both public and private are engaged in the process of urban development, represented through narratives that capture the intricacies of human inhabitation.
This scheme proposes a combination of mixed use new structures, event urbanism, and water resilience as the basis of a culturally referential urban intervention in an underused neighborhood of the city – Cedar Creek. Cedar Creek is a forgotten zone that currently separates the Black Rock neighborhood from the South End. We’re proposing a solution for the land to be converted so that it can connect the neighborhoods while solving the flooding issues. Part of our proposal then is to let Cedar Creek breathe by allowing it to return to its natural state as well as using it to attract people, through a series of key event spaces along the creek, to the underused spaces surrounding the creek to attract people to the waterfront. The key event spaces include a hotel inspired by the Iranistan mansion, a circus berm, and a system of constructed wetlands. Storm water runoff ponds area unified along with the key event spaces under a dazzlingly colorful landscaping scheme, promising an optimistic new urban heart for the troubled city.
What grants architecture its character? This study contrasts the treatment of space, surface and color in two large public buildings that demonstrate opposing principles of articulation: Oscar Niemeyer’s Ciccillo Matarazzo Pavilion in São Paulo and Grand Central Terminal in New York. To demonstrate interchangeability, the spaces are inverted in pursuit of the other’s spatial affect: Niemeyer’s unadorned whitewash and clean lines transforms Grand Central into a soaring Modernist temple, while restrained historicism grants the Matarazzo Pavilion added layers of information that refer to the grandeur of the Beaux-Arts school and draw the viewer’s attention away from abstracted form.
An architecture school building should be a teacher of the discipline. The Blanche-Levy Gothic examines modes of interpretative conservationism through a new building for the architectural education. The building is a mirror of the profession at large: it structures the sense of chaos and pluralism that is the only certainty in today’s world. Named for the Blanche-Levy Quadrangle of the building’s site, the formal language and motifs of the existing monumental Collegiate Gothic buildings are re-composed into a new school for design. This system of architectural collage grants the building not only an absolute object-type form, but also the freedom to iterate, grow, and evolve as the needs of the School change over time. Spaces of gathering, intimacy, creativity, and exchange are built into the composition of spaces and culminate in a ring of studios that crown the building and symbolize the sanctity of the act of architectural creation.