Location: Taian China
Type: Urban Design
The project consists of a number of interrelated procedures in order to construct an urban proposal for Tai'An. At the core of these operations is the strengthening of connections between cities, places and people - the aim to create sustainable social and economic communities. Two assumptions guide the overall approach to Tai'An as a 'connected city'.
The first assumption is that cities are defined topographically and through infrastructure. In other words cities are connected from the start. These two forms of definition allow for an urban typology to be developed that brings actual and virtual interconnections to be established. Once established generative diagrams of a connected city can then be constructed.
By combining topography and infrastructure the city can be reconfigured as a dynamic system which while having the level of abstraction necessary in order that any ensuing diagram contains a generative quality, the presence of different configurations of topography - from the geographical to the historical - allows for the reintroduction of the initial site's already inherent complexity. Abstraction and the pre-given - the latter operating within a number of different permutations - will work together to maintain the masters plan's overall utility. Abstraction is necessary in order that the plan allow for the development of different strategies. This will allow the specific demands of the brief to be addressed.
The second assumption guiding the project is that the density of Tai'An will allow for internal rather than external development. The city can increase in size by 100% within the pre-existing fabric. Hence it is essential that this fabric be mapped in order to develop generative diagrams that will position and define possible sites of urban development.
The procedures leading to the master plan began with a series of diagrammatic exercises. In addition to the initial road systems, maps were constructed of divisions and location of public and private space; the site and the interconnection of historic buildings; major tourist areas; international comparison of cities in terms of density; view analysis diagram incorporating Taishan Mountain; relation of Tai'An to other major Chinese cities. These maps established pre-given points of connection within a dynamic system. At the same time they allow for the development of new points of connection. An example of the latter would be the new connections between historic sites within Tai'An. The new connection would cut the pre-existing systems of connection - roads, public transport etc - opening up places for densification. Tai'An's historic areas are maintained by the twofold strategy of holding then in play while allowing their connection to other sites and systems to define sites for possible development. Nodes within the mapping are no longer points within a Cartesian grid. Each point is a node of intensity. (Andrew Benjamin 2006)
Design Team: Steve Hatzellis and Andrew Benjamin with the mDa_Lab students