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EADG：In todays’ fractured society, is it possible for communities to improve? Rapid urbanization has gradually disintegrated the interpersonal network between residents. In the face of social issues such as unaffordable housing, mental and physical wellbeing, housing configurations cannot solely provide a solution. Maybe the renewal of settlements and their green environment in terms of physical space can alleviate some of these problems, such as the Baiziwan Social Housing project. Divided into three dimensions in a hierarchical manner; a community business on the lower level, a community park in the middle, and residential flats on the upper level, it has three layers of living areas connected vertically. This has enhanced the connection between the site and the people and made it more attractive for residents to go outside. This has promoted interaction amongst the residents and built a sense of community.
▼百子湾社区局部鸟瞰 Partial Aerial View of Baiziwan social housing
总体概述 General overview
Baiziwan Social Housing is located next to Guanghua Street, Chaoyang District, Beijing, and the Chemical Station of Metro Line 7. The project covers an area of 93,900 square meters, with a total construction area of 473,300 square meters. It consists of 12 residential buildings ranging from 6 to 27 floors. It consists of six small blocks, with a total of 4,000 households. This first social security housing designed and built by MAD Architects was opened in 2019, and nearly 3,000 residents have since moved in. It is called “the most beautiful public rental housing” by the majority of netizens.
In this large-scale community living model that requires complex management, it breaks the traditional community model and welcomes urban residents in the form of an open vertical living community. The overall planning of the Baiziwan public rental housing project is very much forward-looking. As a landscape design unit, EADG and MAD have completed a practical exploration of urban community life and social aspirations.
▼立体的社区空间 Three-dimensional community space
关于项目的畅想和思考 Thoughts and reflections on the project
“From the project start we looked more broadly towards how people use the landscape socially instead of a traditional model. ” At the beginning of the project, when we were commissioned to design the landscape for this social housing project, we went to nearby streets and community parks in Beijing to observe how people would use these spaces, and during the process we found that modern housing developments focus more on the physical aspects of the street and park design, and rarely really pay attention to these human attributes. So, for this project we wanted to focus on the comfort of the residents in the design of the community park. Some of the smaller scale spaces, rich planting and meandering paths were designed to enhance the comfort of the residents, and these now seem to fit the project perfectly. At the neighborhood level, our design concept introduces the small scale streets that are so ‘popular’ in traditional Chinese culture, a living space that has been replaced by huge shopping centres in the modern city, so we were keen to recreate the former traditional living space pattern in the Baiziwan community.
In general, our design is not based on a real estate development perspective, but on human comfort and social attributes. We are faced with many challenges in the process of high urbanization, especially in the fast-paced big cities like Shanghai and Beijing in China, where people commute frequently, walk through busy streets and are in a fast-paced life at all times, even without a relaxing, slowing-down journey home after work. If you can see a lot of plants, feel the light change and hear the insects and birds chirping on your way home, this environment will certainly bring a different feeling to your body and mind. People in modern cities need a ‘sanctuary’ where they can ‘escape’ from their fast-paced lives to a place where they can feel the peace and quiet and slow down the pace of their lives. But it is clear that the landscape alone cannot solve all these problems.
▼优美的社区环境 Beautiful community environment
▼舒心的归家路程 A pleasant journey home
分层式设计带来的立体化生活方式 Layered design for a three-dimensional lifestyle
“MAD Architects had a very specific and perfect idea for the architectural design, taking into account the need to solve the many problems that occur on the ground level of the building and providing a solution – raising the landscape space to another level. In this way, the first level will be connected to the main street, more commercial, more life-like and faster; the second level will be relatively quiet, more slow-paced and focused on human leisure. Such a two-storey design is a rare and interesting working experience for landscape architects, so the whole project has been a pleasure to work with. The project we completed with MAD Architects links several areas together to form a large whole, providing an upper level garden space for walking, exercising and resting; and a lower level space that can address the community’s daily dining, shopping, medical and other amenity services, so that the design can encourage the community to explore and discover more interesting things.” When EADG design team talked about the landscape concept.
▼空间分层分析图 Spatial stratification analysis diagram
▼底层小尺度的生活街区 A small-scale living neighbourhood on the ground floor
The ground floor is an open living area linked to the city road, consisting of convenience stores, cafes, restaurants, kindergartens, convenience clinics, bookstores, elderly care facilities and a range of other community businesses. We believe that the best part of the street is the ‘hierarchy’ between the ground and first floor. Because many of the houses in Beijing are actually flat and short, the three-dimensional landscape in this project is particularly unusual. It is not a regular, flat residential landscape, but rather a three-dimensional landscape that can be viewed from above, and it is a wonderful experience to be able to look up and catch a glimpse of the residents’ warm and welcoming lives. We believe that the three-dimensional lifestyle provided by the sky gardens and the pedestrian bridges across the neighbourhoods is one of the most precious and beautiful.
▼底层商业 Lower level retail
▼尺度适宜的生活家园 A suitable living home
The design of the bridges in the project is striking and pure red, carrying more of a recreational function than bridges built across water, providing a space to walk and stroll and linking the lives of the residents.
开放共享的社区空中花园 An open and shared community sky garden
The Sky Community Garden on the first floor is a complete departure from the design of the ground floor. Elevated bridges, winding paths, bright colours and beautifully landscaped plants enrich the design of the second floor. The gardens are linked together by bridges to all floors and are completely open to all residents within the community. A dedicated spiral fire staircase provides easy and quick access to the main path on the ground floor.
The top slab of the ground floor of each building extends outwards and is joined together to form the slab level, which is then clad in greenery to form the sky garden. The greenery is created using a combination of trees, shrubs and grasses, with a large number of shrubs as well as some trees. We know that the thicker the mulch layer is, the better it is for the growth of woody plants, and the better the overall greening is in terms of ecological benefits such as humidification and cooling, energy saving and rainwater storage, etc. The 1.5m mulch depth has the best ecological benefits. The mulch depth for this project is 1.2m to 1.5m, which meets the overall loading requirements and provides sufficient conditions for plants to grow.
▼二层平面图及特色种植 2nd level floor plan & planting features
▼螺旋式消防楼梯 Spiral fire stairs
▼屋顶花园 Roof garden
The garden is set up with different leisure spaces, including a more spacious and open square area that can facilitate activities such as open-air movies or square dancing for the residents, but also sports and fitness areas, walking and leisure areas, and a relatively quiet and ornamental area for the elderly with good vegetation. There is a very special gymnasium in the centre of the garden, which has a good view of the landscape from inside.
▼建筑底层灰空间成为活动的舞台 The gray space on the ground floor becomes a stage for leisure
▼各种活动空间 Different leisure spaces
Strung together, the community park forms a much larger garden green space where residents can gather to exercise, chat or tend to the community farm, which was our vision of the ideal life of the park at the beginning. An open community and a beautiful environment is not an absolute factor in promoting friendly interaction between people, but it is a prerequisite for doing so. So, we started with a more detailed design for the park, taking into account various functionalities and a more complex design, which led to the initial planning of the ‘Smart Farm’. However, because of the complexity of managing and maintaining the ‘smart farm’ afterwards, we finally scrapped it for cost reasons and replaced it with a more specific planting strip. Even later on, we felt that the design should not be too complex, and that if any spatial arrangements and activities were to be reflected in the design, such an overly elaborate design would be like controlling the behaviour of the inhabitants, which we did not want to do, so we finally simplified it and now present a relatively simple part of the garden. We wanted to not define the specific function of the space, but to allow people to explore the space themselves, to find out what they want to do, to form their own living space and to find a real sense of belonging in the community.
▼最初畅想的社区农场 Community farm
▼串连在一起的空间 Connected roof space
“社区”和“社交” “Community” and “Social”
The two most important key words for the Baiziwan Social Housing project are “community” and “social”. At the moment, no matter how much change is attempted in real estate projects, both in China and abroad, they all feel very similar, and tend to be uniform, but this project is a step into the future, it becomes different from other projects and is instantly recognisable. At the same time it’s social housing with a large population, and it’s developed in a way that takes the “fantasy” of future community living out of the equation. We have truly returned the ideal house to the people: we live in a home with a big garden, so many trees, flowers and small animals waiting for us to come home.
The Baiziwan residence is also a very new place within the new development area of Beijing, and its existence is fortunate both for the people of the surrounding area and for the designers. It is a project that truly serves the people who use it, is simpler and more humane to live in, and we use conventional materials to create spaces that are approachable, not high-end for the sake of being high-end. Our design provides a sanctuary for the residents and provides them with more opportunities and possibilities for outdoor activities.
▼效果图纸 Effect drawings
Project Name: Baiziwan Social Housing
Design time: 2016
Footprint Area: 93,900 square meters
Location: Baiziwan, East 4th Ring Road, Beijing
Owner: Beijing Public Housing Center
Landscape Design: EADG
Company Website: www.ea-dg.com.cn
Architect: MAD Architects
Lighting Design: NING FIELD (former United Artists Lighting)
Logo Design: Beijing Dasi Advertising Co., LTD
Photographers: Zhu Yumeng
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