Executive Brief

Beyond Architectural Regulations in China
Draft Proposal


Short summary


For the future of green cities the world looks at China with anxiety and anticipation. Urbanization is a central component of global sustainability and at the scale of China its planned urbanization of the coming decades will - for better or for worse - have a profound global impact. However, it is precisely China’s impressive ambition that painfully reveals the lack of sustainable planning models currently available. Though eager to copy and paste the best green solutions available, China is in reality limited to an approach of technological window-dressing. One the one hand because no relevant holistic models of sustainable planning exist for China’s booming market, on the other hand because China’s own planning codes, aimed to streamline the construction of its hundreds of new cities, effectively prevent any real sustainable design from occurring.
BARC (Beyond Architectural Regulations in China) is an ambitious collaborative design project to produce a holistic and tangible case study for sustainable planning in China. The outcome, a large model and an interactive video-wall, aim to inspire what a progressive green city could ultimately look like. The design process is fully documented to provide a clear presentation of how to achieve an integrated system through a long-term collaborative effort. New guidelines are deducted that shed light on how to manage sprawling regions around the world.
Problem / Solution
In three decades China has radically reconfigured itself spatially, economically and socially, with urbanization as one of the two main engines of growth. The mesmerizing speed of construction has supported double-digit economic development while facilitating the emergence of a vast home-grown consumer market. But such speed comes at a price. With no time to consider the future, China’s aggressive real-estate market has reduced urban planning to a single formula of sealed-off mega-block neighborhoods connected by highways - a fail-safe method to plot by plot privatize China’s once communal land. In a wave of modernization dozens of megacities are reconstructed from center to deep into the suburbs, while entirely new cities mushroom around them. The sense of control to design the cityscape (and indeed society itself) seems infinite. But exactly thirty years after the open door reforms and after thirty years of top-down planning (with the Olympics as its climax) the limits of instant urbanization are harshly revealing themselves. All generic problems of modernity, from congestion to alienation can be found on an enlarged scale. Seemingly in control, the mega-compounds are micro-planned, yet the sum of the countless real-estate projects grow together into organic urban patterns. The urban research of the DCF has mapped and analyses a process of increasing Market-driven Unintentional Development or MUD.
Bigger city, Better life
After thirty years China is half-way done. This simple fact makes its relentless top-down planning approach redundant. Modern China has a context, and its urban environments, however new, are affecting the direction of its ongoing development. In response to this MUD formation the DCF has produced the planning model Dynamic Density (DD) that adheres to China’s speed and works with the market-trends to streamline the natural direction of growth. It assumes a city has an inherent optimum proportion between urban footprint and population density. Counterintuitively that means China’s cities can grow much bigger while gaining efficiency and living comfort - a crucial notion for a green future in China.
Super Satellites (OUT as such )
The fundamental deduction of DD is that no new cities are needed. In reality, defined by Chinese planning culture and politics, hundreds of new cities will inevitably be build over the next few decades. Each potential new growth centers of more sprawl, of more MUD. This is where our design challenge begins. How can we make the omnipresent Chinese satellite city into a Super Satellite: A healthy fully integrated expansion of the mother city; a settlement that is not just ecologically, but socially and economically sustainable.
Accepting the contradiction the satellite city represents draws this project far beyond the suburbs into the countryside. The traditional distinction between urban and rural areas is in China all but lost. Complex production networks run from the CBD to the villages where the products are manufactured. This has made the rural periphery into an integral part of the urban economy, and as such essential to any sustainable urban prototype. The Super Satellite will carefully embed the Chinese city within its rural environment.
Equally important, it accepts the farmer turned migrant/factory worker into the equation of the modern Chinese city.
codes ... walking ...
bottom up ...

Book / Tianjin ..........................

Concrete design

Installation will feature:

model of the selected Chinese city in the year 2050
an interactive exhibition detailing the evolution of the model from the year 2010 to 2050
visual presentation of DCF background research, as well as analysis of the process
mock-ups of model/project
artifacts from process: drawings, sketches, scrapped items?
a comfortable seating and observation area for patrons

Clarity of task

What differentiates this project from other urban interventions (for the mayor)
Smart cities have nothing to do with technology; it simply isn’t enough. Even the most highly-engineered, ambitious projects, like Dongtan Eco-City, prove difficult: isolated from Shanghai, 400,000 of its residents will need to commute daily, hardly characteristic of a green, self-sustaining, or economically-viable environment. China, already technology-driven and highly-pragmatic, is missing vision: a green master plan that proposes a new urban system – and, by extension, a way of life – for the new Chinese world.
The Dynamic City Foundation, a wildly creative urban research firm, will put together six highly-regarded architecture firms to design a new scheme for the selected city, to be presented at Shanghai Expo 2010. The intervention will be presented in the form of an innovative exhibition – featuring detailed virtual models, film, and other methods of display – to an audience of millions, as well as a number of renowned experts in economics, urban design, and architecture.
DCF, a Dutch-Chinese organization engaged with rigorous urban research, may at first seem like an unlikely combination; urbanization in Holland and China may seem to be quite opposite, but the reasoned specificity of Dutch design may be applied to rapid Chinese development. Our objective is to increase the size of mid-sized cities to prevent the development of new ones, which can easily drain the country and/or region’s resources.
In order to thrive, a city needs to specialize. DCF will work closely with the mayor, real estate developer, and project teams to reinforce the identity of the city, and to grow it accordingly. The old way, splitting cities, or creating satellite cities, is divisive and costly. DCF instead hopes to double the number of people in the chosen city in a way that allows richness and growth. The city will be one connected system with an over-arching plan, not a series of interventions dealing with wastewater, air pollution, and civil engineering.
The process, documented throughout, will be an excellent future resource for the city – as well as urban governments nationwide – and, as well, an art piece devoted to it. Super Satellites’ ultimate manifestation will be shown at the 2010 Shanghai Expo in a large installation manifesting rigorous urban research and an extensive architectural process in the form of an engaging art installation made accessible to the public without diluting its content.

Consultants, etc.

Experience/About DCF

Specializing in comprehensive urban research, the Dynamic City Foundation manifests its findings in the form of gargantuan artistic interventions. It dismantles long-term observations, spatial concepts, urban theory, and ideas along all lines to create tangible works of art. DCF is uniquely future-focused, and scientific about its imaginings at a time when closed-circuit televisions patrol streets, where deterritorialized space extends beyond nationhood, and in which urban sprawl spills beyond borders, requiring cultural, physical, and virtual space to be woven together densely as a synthetic mesh. Regarding Chinese cities not only as enormous, chaotic organisms, but as laboratories for global forces, DCF provides refreshing insights in an era of dangerous flash urbanization, in which there is no time to imagine a long-term future.
Past DCF exhibitions have included: Freeze, a futuristic Noah’s Ark of ideas that forces the observer to imagine the world as it is today, in terms of flow and movement, beyond physical and political boundaries; Neon Dream, an animated city on a blinding neon wall, surrounding The Chinese Knot, a beguiling mass of highways tangled about China's Forbidden City; the multimedia model Beijing Boom Tower, accommodating all Chinese society in a single megablock; the interactive installation Beijing Real Time, allowing users to play a strategic game with Beijing’s sprawl over a Ming Dynasty table, and Golden Inflation, a luminous landscape of solid gold rendered in the form of inflatable golden mountains, exploring the nature of commerce, dreams, and the ineffable. DCF also published BURB Magazine, a publication from the future that documents urban, political, and cultural issues in the year 2020 with a cynical wink to China's present.

Concerning one of the most rapidly growing countries in the world, DCF’s interventions thread together architectural, cultural, and political space by rejecting traditional boundaries. The installations are frequently larger than life, combining models, videos and interactive components demanding the participation of the audience. Simultaneously they challenge issues of generic space, personal space, identity, political interventions, notions of density, identity, social sustainability, reality, and what it means to live in a world of uncontrollable urban growth. Attuned to the new Chinese social condition, its conceptions are at once radical and welcoming, utopian and dystopian, obsessively detailed, and serious about the fantastical.

Final Product


Phase 0: Planning building exercise
Phase 1: Building exercise
Phase 2: Synthesis, creation, revision
Phase 3: Exhibition design
Phase 4: Shipment to and exhibition in Shanghai

Expenses/Financial detail

Phase 1: Construction exercise at DCF, Beijing
- Foam building material
- Cutting tools
- Etc.
Process costs
- Printing
- Other production costs
Lodging etc. for 8 architect teams
- Lodging
- Food
- Transportation
- Per diem

Phase 2: Installation construction
Mounting and display of complete model
- foamcore material
- glue, cutting tools…

Interactive display

Documentary film

Display of DCF research

Construction of display room

Phase 3: Shipping installation to Shanghai
Packing materials
Labor cost
Installation of materials in Shanghai

Posted by Monica Datta / 13.6 years ago / 42540 hits