Negative Planning in Nanshahe, Haidian District, Beijing

According to Beijing Master Plan 2004-2020, the metropolitan region will evolve into a polycentric structure, with ‘two axes, two belts and multiple centers.’ The two axes are running east-west and north-south, crossing at central Beijing. The two axes are the western ecological belt and the eastern development belt.

Multiple centers refer to points of density and commercial activity within the broader field of mixed-use urban development. Haidian district is noted for its educational resources and high-tech and scientific research developments and the official Haidian district plan calls for the expansion of these specialized industries, coupled with residential new towns, and preservation of important open-space and ecological reserves. Nansha River runs through the town of Shangzhuang in the northern part of Haidian District. It is a tributary of Wenyu River one of the most significant waterways that feeds Beijing. The total length of the river is 21km, while the catchment area covers 220 sq km.

The studio will focus on proposing new patterns for urban development in the area, starting from the concept of negative planning. The class will use ecological infrastructure as a starting point and organizing system for the design of urban space. Within this area, environmental challenges include urban flooding, water pollution and lack of basic services and infrastructure in urban villages. Sealing urban surfaces has increased storm water runoff, exacerbating flooding and drainage issues throughout Beijing. Single-function engineering techniques, such as Channelization and damming have brought fundamental changes to the urban hydrological process and functions. The channelized river and its tributaries no longer have the capacity for flood control or self-purification through ecological processes, which leads to the continuing degradation of the region’s ecology. In addition, the emerging tourist industry in the region, including Agritainment and Vacation Villages, contributes to the water pollution by discharging sewage into reservoirs and rivers. Finally urban villages, rural settlements that have been transformed into poor living spaces for migrant workers, are unable to meet the residents’ needs for clean water and sanitation services. The project will propose the design of a mixed-use and mixed-income settlement along the Nanshahe River, which uses ecological infrastructure as a base on which to develop new landscape and architectural forms.

Schedule: The class will meet weekly on Thursdays and Fridays. Kongjian Yu will be on the studio trip planned in February and at the GSD the following dates: January 23 and 24, March 5-7.