Guangzhou ICETC

Guangzhou, People's Republic of China
2008

 
Spatial Layering
Overlapping frames of reference invigorate the human experience of the place making within a city. Sensation, memory and thought contribute to this personalization of space and allows for its inhabitants to engage in a life that is filled with visually dramatic episodes. The amazing landscape of New York City as an example can reveal through its vertical splendor the existence of a complex system of lines of influence that shape, guide, and design the horizontal layer of streets and blocks which gives the meaning to the physicality of place making.
 
A condition exists in New York City upon the landscape of an island called “Manhattan” when the regular north-south grid gives way to the haphazard grid of the district of lower Manhattan. To understand the complexity that makes the district of Lower Manhattan a special place one would need to understand the complex layers of time and how it has affected the place making through the generations. The haphazard weaving of streets, unique building shapes, irregular open spaces, and tracings of edges within internal light courts are the beginning episodic events that mark a continuance of the historical imprints of this developing district. These edges have been generated by the tracings of farm lines as a way to record and define boundaries between two families and have survived time to record the events through the physical realm. Cities in Europe have similar conditions that have existed over thousands of years that provide a link from the as far back as the ancient Roman Empire to the contemporary. A vibrant city reveals its history through memory and a condition of layering new buildings upon the foundations of the old provides a physical remembrance of the previous culture. Unique situations can be encountered by the alignment or layering of program to explain this historical approach instead of the obvious re creation of traditional patterns of city form making that existed in prior civilizations. The history of the site might celebrate a use that once existed and that can be used as a distributor of invented hybrid uses for this new modern city. These abstract patterns provide the context to experiment and a new spatial experience can be provided for the pedestrian and vehicles as they move through open space and landscape. New building forms created through spatial experimentation can exist within this new system of alignments and celebrate a visual connection to explain the tracings of history found and invented.
 
Framework of Organization
The existing context of the site in Guangzhou provides a rich framework of elements to create a field of activities that will celebrate the history of the region and provide a platform for future city making. The farm ownership plot lines that currently organize the site were studied and used to realign the new program and provide the new context and shape behind the new International Commodity Exhibition and Trade City. The initial visit to the region revealed a farming landscape consisting of a patchwork of irrigation canals, wetlands, and scattered village buildings. The visual patchwork of elements creates a collision and layering of pieces that became the initial abstract concept for the arrangement of open spaces. A field of multiple patterns was conceived that would integrate the various new program parts from water transportation canals, landscape fields, pedestrian pathways, building blocks, and programmatic districts to become an overlaying mosaic onto a more definitive system of existing regional transportation patterns, local village building context, irrigation canal system, power line routes, and land boundaries. Water will play an important part within the new city to form a bridge to the past as a reminder of the necessary irrigation canals that exist. The use of the canals will no longer be a product of commerce to sustain farm life but to provide a tranquil setting within all public spaces, courts, and plazas to engage the pedestrian as they traverse through the districts. A large lake in the exhibition district will provide a setting for leisure activities including paddleboats, canoes, and possibly water taxi’s to move people through the various districts as a form of low-tech transportation.
 
Landscape Fields
The existing village becomes an island metaphorically isolated within the new city form of streets and blocks, but through its physical association to a new retail district to the west, the village population will have a context that promotes engagement, connection, and inclusion. The new retail/cultural/restaurant buildings will physically mimic the scale of the village while walkways between the courtyards will connect over water canals and through green zones of demonstration gardens to the village. Instead of providing a walled environment to isolate the village, new landscape zones are situated to create an ecological sustainable environment to be enjoyed by visitors and villagers alike and provide a sensitive edge to the new Trade City. The pedestrian experience within the central zone is heightened by a connection path from two signature Exhibition Halls over foot bridges that span major vehicular routes to allow users to move through the Central Park. The Central Park is envisioned as dynamic field of landscape episodes that activate program within these fields of operation. Passive activities such as reading, sleeping, sitting, and fishing will be organized along with active zones. Pedestrian paths for jogging, walking, and rollerblading will weave through these large fields for basketball, tennis, and soccer. A patchwork system will organize various planting, grasses, mounds, edges, and paths of connection to invigorate and stimulate activities to engage the ground plane. The imprints of the old farm lines are used to connect the districts and streets/blocks with each other through laying of trees/shrubs/berms/planting masses to accentuate the experience of physical and temporal connections.