Independent Studio by Candidates for Master’s Degrees

Independent Study: Shanghai UrbanismProfessor Bing WangProfessor Richard B. PeiserSpring, 2004Units: 4Note: Students must also enroll in and meet with GSD 5212Wednesdays: 2:00-5:00First Session: Wednesday, February 4, 2004 at GSDThis Independent Studio gives design students who are taking GSD 5212: Field Studies in Real Estate, Planning and Urban Design, the opportunity to concentrate on intensive design investigations of a unique site in Shanghai, with the additional time allocation of 4 class units (8 units altogether) Note: This independent studio does not fulfill the requirements of a studio for purposes of students\’ degree requirements. Students who are enrolled in a studio this semester are not eligible for this course.The aim of this independent studio is to use design as an effective means to provide strategies and solutions for a complex set of urban problems encountered in rapid economic developments in current Shanghai, China, and to identify specificities of Shanghai urbanism in the context of Chinese culture. A cultural melting pot in China, Shanghai\’s history as a trading port – \”a Paris in the east\” – in the 1930s, as a backbone of the communist economy in 1960s and 70s, and as a leading city in China\’s transformation to a world stage since the 1990s, has molded its unique character.Located in the previous French Concession, the studio site is at the heart of old Shanghai, occupied currently by dilapidated modern lilong houses built in 1940s and 1950s. The city has an ambition to turn the site into a mixed-use development with high-end office, residential, retail, chic clubs and restaurants, etc. The site includes design of a high-rise building with prominent visibility from one of Shanghai\’s key view corridors.Shanghai\’s inconsistent historical fragments are well presented by the surrounding architectural contexts of the study site: typical Shanghai garden villas in the 1920s, art-deco buildings built at the initial stage of Chinese modern movement in the 1930s, soviet-style barrack residential quarters of the 1950s and recent modern high-rise developments of the 1990s. Although the site is next to an inner-city expressway, it is traversed by a curving pedestrian street along which private lilong housing courtyards and trees create the tranquil atmosphere of the neighborhood and constitute an urban oasis in the middle of crowded Shanghai. The project, to any designer, has a fascinating combination of challenges and excitement. Particular issues that need to be addressed by the design solutions of the independent study are: XHow to use spatial continuity and design of architectural languages to construct an urbanism that allows the flow of culture made up of disparate time elements of Shanghai as a treaty port, as a major industrial city under Communism and contemporary modern Shanghai. XHow to use physical design means to address the relationship between the economic forces of real estate development and modernization and the cultural dimension of the city\’s past, present and the future. The scope of work for the studio will include: understanding the historical trajectory of developments in this particular neighborhood at the city center of Shanghai; understanding project development processes in Shanghai, including various forms of regulation and their technical bases; and therefore providing design solutions based on the understanding of the local urban culture and present development practices, especially with regard to urban place-making, preservation of historical buildings and identity-creation of urban images.At the beginning of the semester, the students are required to work in groups to research how similar scaled mixed-use urban design projects have thrived in the place-making process in different cities and different cultures. In later pha