Beijing: The University Campus as an Operative Device to Reshape the Metropolis

ObjectivesIn the last thirty years, China and its long urban history, has been subject to a series of pressure systems that have aggressively altered the traditionally and culturally rooted morphologies of its urbanization patterns. Since the de-collectivization of agriculture in the late 1970\’s, the country has aggressively moved towards a socialist-market economy, causing major transformations in the structure, organization and growth pace of its major urban environments. This studio will focus on Beijing, explore its urban morphology, and the most significant patterns of transformation that have affected the city throughout the century, focusing specifically in the change of the last thirty years. The studio will construct a wide array of mappings of the new spatial configurations that have resulted from the distinct urban strictures imposed in the city in the Post Maoist Era, and use them as a primary source for the rethinking of new organizational structures for the Tsinghua University Campus. The objective is to explore the possibility of reconfiguring the campus into a more operative district within the city, and speculate on how this process can be useful when reconsidering other quarters in the metropolitan area.BackgroundBeijing\’s original urban structure is an amalgam of monumental historic buildings and low construction high density quarters in a rather intricate morphology. That system was heavily altered during the Maoist period. This new urban structure driven by the aspirations of socialist dogma established new live work scenarios known as work units or Danwei. This organization altered the functional differentiation of the traditional district in favor of new self sufficient districts that offered work, housing, healthcare and most other basic services, eliminating the need to travel between units. These were primarily walled complexes with three to five storey rectangular buildings. The current scenario (Reformist era) has been marked by a huge influx of capital, both local and foreign- in state owned land, which teamed with new forms of housing tenure have drastically changed the urban nature of Beijing, both in scale and assembly. This has resulted in major morphological alterations in the city where circulation infrastructure has been rescaled, vertical buildup has exploded, and traditional fabrics and layouts are continuously erased. The rhythm of urban growth is extraordinary. StudioThe studio will be made up of three investigations at three discrete scales which then will add up to one comprehensive project:Part 1. Beijing\’s emerging morphologiesThe first portion of the studio will focus on a mapping exercise that will tackle Beijing at a metropolitan scale, and construct a series of mappings that splinter the intricate morphological composite that makes up the city. Students will select a series of districts throughout the metropolitan area that have been subject to extensive change. This material, generative in nature, will serve as the primary source for the second portion of the studio.Part 2. The campus as an operative districtThe second component of the studio, will focus on developing new organizational patterns for the densification of the Tsinghua University campus and a recalibration of its grounds. Tsinghua University, has a campus structure characterized by well defined edges and is made up of a series of sub-campuses with scattered modern buildings sprinkled throughout a green carpet. This portion of the studio will look at inventive strategies to reconfigure its relatively loose ground condition, and develop strategies that might allow for the integration of city and campus.Part 3. The paradigmatic fragmentFor the last and longest portion of the studio, students will be asked to propose an architectural or urban project for the university g