FENGXI, CHINA, 2017
Credits: Jie Gu, Ying Liu, Makoto Okazaki, Michael Sorkin
First prize winner in an urban design competition for a big chunk of a “new town” on the northeastern edge of Xi’an, the project – like so many others we’ve done in China – is both a proposition and a riposte. Our long career there has been dedicated to moving the urban default away from superblocks, hyper-zoning, uniform orientation and expression, and a raft of other dry modernist tropes for designing the city. In this case, the “innovations” included a large central park (we like circular forms both for inexplicable aesthetic reasons and for their efficient ratio of edge to area), a green sponge along the river and a tangle of greenways across the site, narrowed streets and street wall buildings in block form instead of the usual towers-in-the-park, a heightened life of mix in use and location, and a careful inventory and deployment of environmental systems. The design – in its particularity - is also meant to offer both resistance and direction to the developers among whom it will be parceled.