Russell Campbell LeStourgeon
From Metropolitan Axis to Localizing Grid
In central Beijing, the historic Axis serves as a potent, symbolic connector of the city’s history and culture. In southern Beijing, however, it is instead an obstacle. Sixteen lanes of traffic make what should be a celebrated zone into little more than a highway - its overwhelming scale must be dealt with in order for any kind of future development to be successful. This project proposes to first reduce the size of the Axis road on our site, redistributing its traffic onto several new north-south avenues between the Second and Third Ring Roads. These are crossed by a number of east-west roads that restructure the urban form. Together, this grid system extends the influence of the Axis across the site, connecting it to landmarks such as the new rail station.
Based on an analysis of existing programs in the area, this proposal focuses on three main zones of use, each organized around an open space arranged perpendicularly to the Axis: a business district to the north, a hospital/wellness campus, and a live/work/retail village on the old site of the Bairong Mall. Although the three respond to different functional requirements, they each contain a mixture of commercial, residential, and institutional space. The grid provides a framework for new typologies of development units, ranging from traditional Chinese courtyard residences to podiums and high rise towers. In this way, the introduction of a grid system allows streets to be connective rather than divisive, localizing the urban energy of the Axis.
The Development of Modern Classicism: Sir John Soane’s Bank of England and Edwin Lutyens’s House of the Viceroy
The relationship between classicism and the architecture of authority would take a curious twist in the English context: a strain of vernacular classicism, developed in a highly personal manner, would become the face of British Empire in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Both Sir John Soane and Sir Edwin Lutyens developed highly personal formal idioms, a creativity perhaps fostered by their lack of academic training; each was highly synthetic in their influences and methods, and evinced a comfort with nuanced departures from the classical canon.
The architectural climax of both Soane’s Bank of England and Lutyens’ Viceroy’s House is a domed hall derived from the Pantheon. The domed form itself carries an embedded meaning, but is adapted from its origins as a religious temple to a political expression. Both architects strip the typology down to its elemental geometry, then reconstruct it in their own idiosyncratic manner. Our triptych model compares these manipulations of archetypal form and variations in entrance sequence and program. The first panel demonstrates the elemental geometry to which both Soane and Lutyens refer. The second panel examines the sectional and programmatic variations in each architect’s interpretation of this type, while the third panel studies the resulting effects on massing and detail.