Thanks SHUISHI for authorizing the publication of the project on mooool, Text description provided by SHUISHI.
SHUISHI: While carrying out block renewal, SHUISHI views the familiar environment from a unique perspective in its urban regeneration design, and guides people to change from concept to behavior with the shaping of scenes. In the block renewal of Leshan New Village in Xuhui District, Shanghai, we have once again practiced our “reflection” on the road space in central urban areas, and put into practice a number of models for the transformation of the “15-minute life circle” street elements in the domain of Xujiahui area.
01 徐家汇的后街 Back street of Xujiahui
Located in the west side of Xujiahui, the Leshan New Village is a high-density old residential area reconstructed from shantytowns in the 1980s. It is “small but complete”, with grocery market, school and centralized green space readily available. Due to site restrictions, all public facilities were arranged with residential buildings at a minimum distance. There was little open space in the entire block except for the central greenbelt. Roads were the most typical outdoor social space for the residents of the Leshan community. But before the renovation, the narrow sidewalks were piled up with non-motor vehicles, rows of stools that residents sat to bask in the sun, and garbage left behind by nagging old people. It was a headache for the street management team.
When the renovation started, we visited the neighborhood committee and the residents with the question “What do you expect in the renewal of the Leshan New Village?” As shown in the feedback, the residents were more concerned with renovation in the community than outside. They did not know what to do for the homestead where they had lived for more than three decades.
▽改造前乐山鸟瞰 Aerial view of Leshan before the renovation
▽改造前的乐山社区入口，背景是徐家汇中心The entrance of the Leshan community before the renovation. The background is the Xujiahui Center.
In our discussions with the sub-district and district authorities, we saw an opportunity for the growth of the Leshan community: As Xujiahui was developing towards a world-class CBD center, the population structure of the adjacent communities was changing. The arrival of more enterprises and businesses brought a large number of young workers and tourists, and Leshan Road would quickly become a comprehensive street serving Xujiahui. It was necessary to take into account the needs of people in and out of the community, and to supplement services, businesses and venues that matched the development of the surrounding urban areas to create a higher quality urban public life form and space.
From the perspective of planning, we first sorted out that the Leshan community needed to integrate “secular life” and “fashion”, combine “convenience” with “greenness”, and update the positioning of “care” and “autonomy”, thus proposing the street site planning that matched Xujiahui culture, and the scene design related to open urban life. At the level of specific landscape and architectural scene design, we considered the method of transforming the limited space of the street as a result of reflection of the cramped nature of the site and some stubborn ways of use. Through the observation of behaviors over multiple periods, communication with different groups of people, and discussions with proprietors in the sub-district, we proposed a renovation plan for diversified street elements in a critical way.
▽乐山街区的环形路网与改造后的多个口袋空间 The circular road network of Leshan block and multiple pocket spaces after the renovation
02 可以被阅读的街道 A readable street
The street is the most important public space in Leshan community, bustling with huge crowds from morning to night. We hope that the renovated street scene is a real “street that can be read”, so we pay more attention to the creation of scenes and the implantation of cultural connotation of the block in the design.
For the boundary of the street, the first thing we thought of was to intensify people’s experience of walking in the block in a 3D space technique. We adopted several different street boundary designs in Leshan block, which were to superimpose the spatial hierarchy beyond the plane of the original walls. Through different combinations of light and shadow, materials, colors and plants, we achieved 3D scenes with light and shadow changes. These scenes had a harmonious visual relationship with the adjacent places, which deepened the impression left by the site and gave a richer visual experience to the walking experience.
Another experience of “reading the street” was achieved through the performance of the block culture. At the beginning of deciding on the plan, we worked with the sub-district committee to plan the idea of “Block Gallery”: present cultural materials related to the development of Xujiahui in an illustrated way on various nodes and the foot traffic line of the block. They included a number of creations on the themes of art, celebrities, and children’s paintings of the Xujiahui area, and a cultural exhibition wall on the “source of the Shanghai style” composed of more than 60 display panels.
Every time we see the residents and children lingering and reading in front of these display panels, we are touched with a feeling: the culture of a neighborhood is certainly not something that can be replicated by quantification, and it must come from the story of the block itself. When the content becomes more local, it will be more easily accepted and carried on by the block.
▽徐家汇音乐艺术展墙被作为街区临时库房的入口 The Xujiahui music and art exhibition wall is used as the entrance to the temporary warehouse in the block
We created a group of “Leshan” public artworks together with the artist Lv Haiqi, which are placed in the street pocket square by the Guangyuan West Road. This set of public artworks ingeniously turn the Chinese characters “Leshan” into urban furniture that interact with pedestrians: by rotating the steel pipes, they form a group of structures to sit, lean and play, adding a fun and unique experience for people to stay on the street side.
▽以“乐山”为主题创作的城市公共艺术品为行人与场地的互动更添亮色 The urban public artworks created under the theme of “Leshan” enhance the interactions between pedestrians and the site
03 街角的意义 The significance of street corners
The road network of Leshan block is unique in shape. The block with unequal sides has a set of inner ring road connected to the surrounding roads in three different directions. This multi-fold road forces motor vehicles to slow down naturally after entering the community. Coupled with the green shade on both sides, the road is ideal for use as a walkway. However, before the renovation, there were very few joggers on the roads in the Leshan block. We learned from the neighborhood committee that, in addition to the illegal parking and mixed traffic of people and cars on the street, there were often troublesome uncivilized defecation on several street corners.
At the advice of the community planners and traffic consultants, the sub-street committee introduced new management measures to limit parking on the street. And we put forward the idea of opening each street corner, and turning the corners hidden from view into public communication places, letting more eyes focus on here, to reduce the occurrence of uncivilized behaviors.
▽一个融入了花坛、座椅与雨篷的街角，既拓宽行走的宽度，又留下邻里间交流的空间 A street corner with flower beds, seats and canopy expands the width of footpath and leaves space for neighbors to communicate
So we planned each street corner into a post in the Leshan footpath: In the external corner space, we use show windows, maps and landscape flower pools to provide opportunities for people to stop and read. In the internal corner positions, which have better outward views, we partially lift the sites, and set up L-shaped rest seats and eaves with night lights, to constitute barriers for motor vehicles, and eliminate the impression of dark corners at night. The building of these corners has received strong support from the sub-street committee and surrounding school and businesses. Among them, we proposed to set up a corner window in the corner outside the Jiaotong University Press. Under the elaborate arrangement of the publishing house, we loaded it with the newly published books, which lit up a beacon on the Leshan footpath on the Panyu Road.
▽改造后乐山街区面对番禺路的街角 The street corner facing the Panyu Road after the renovation of Leshan block
04 街区的眼睛：26路公交站 Eyes of the block: No. 26 bus station
The terminus of No. 26 Bus is located on the south entrance of the Leshan block. Before the renovation, the station already shouldered a number of functions: When it was set up, it was used to solve the travel difficulties of the residents around the Leshan residential area. Limited to the site at that time, the station was built at a compact space of the intersection. For years, the station provided lunch breaks for the drivers and the surrounding sanitation workers with its poor site conditions. It was recently upgraded to a charging station for electric buses. Due to the innate deficiencies, the original waiting area kept the closed and low state all the year round, and the uncomfortable waiting space became the focus of uncivilized behaviors.
▽改造前的车站隔墙 The station partition wall before the renovation
▽改造后的公交站台解决了隔墙阻断过道与车站联系的问题 The renovated bus station solves the problem that the partition wall blocks out the corridor and the station
The idea of “building the station into a demonstration landmark of block renewal, to establish a new image for the block” was supported by the sub-street committee and the bus group. In the process of deepening the design, the staff of the bus group analyzed and explained many times the functional requirements of the station. We also focused our design on a more spacious, brighter solution to extend the service feature of the station.
Finally, the station renovation not only changed the platform itself, but also adjusted and improved the overall environment around the station. At the entrance to the station, there was erected a set of characters, “No.26 Terminal”, like newly lit eyes of the Leshan community. The bright orange color represents the confidence of Leshan block, and conveys a more open and sunny community spirit.
▽改造后的公交站台提供更宽敞的空间 The renovated bus station provides a more spacious space
▽改造后的公交站，街道背景是徐家汇中心 The renovated bus station stands against the backdrop of Xujiahui Center
05 街区的色彩 The color of the block
We compared many high-density old blocks in China with some famous neighborhoods abroad, and found that many Chinese blocks were characterized in spatial density and richness of community life. But they were a far cry in the visual perception of the space. SHUISHI conducted the data analysis of colors of most old neighborhoods in Shanghai, and concluded that in the hard scene part, the building and ground materials looked dull and mixed because of the age; in the soft scene part, greenness usually accounted for a low proportion, dominated by several types of common tree species, with few layers; in the scene setting part, the shop signboards, often in bright Chinese characters, competed with each other for fascination. Such a scenario appeared stiff and lacked intimacy, and had become a common problem of most of the old communities.
▽改造后的乐山社区入口 The entrance of Leshan community after the renovation
Our goal of color adjustment of Leshan block was to endow it with localized characteristics, featuring young vitality of different green levels. First of all, we selected several groups of representative low-rise shop areas, and by adjusting the facade and ground materials, realized changes of dominant colors of street near-human scale visions. Combined with the use of Xujiahui theme color red bricks, we put together two kinds of face bricks of different textures to form a facade effect with a sense of hierarchy and rhythm. At the same time, we used bricks of different materials under the same theme on the exterior walls of the community and school to warm up the overall background color of the near-human scale part. In the treatment of the community walls, we transformed the original glazed-brick top of the walls into flower troughs that accommodate green plants, and hang vertical orchids on the wall head, to increase the vertical greenness of the street.
▽徐家汇主题色红砖墙为空间增添色彩 Xujiahui theme color red brick wall adds color to the space
▽改造前为琉璃砖的墙顶 The wall roof of glazed bricks before the renovation
▽墙顶花槽与围栏植物增加垂直绿度 The wall top flower grooves with fence plants increase vertical greenness
The block guide system is an important part of the visual design in Leshan community. SHUISHI carefully compiled the public service facilities in Leshan on the guide map, and set up a guide sign at each corner. Taking the orange of the morning sun as Leshan’s new logo color, it embeded a series of stylish signs into the street. The unified block VI with the orange logo design constitutes the continuous visual cues on the street.
▽街角的导视标牌用鲜亮的色彩，为“十五分钟生活圈”中的各项设施带来积极的指引 The guide sign on the street corner adopts bright colors to give positive guidance to the facilities in the “15-minute life circle”
▽乐山社区标志以和谐共生为主题背景，将时尚与经典的视觉元素巧妙融入街巷烟火 Leshan community logo takes harmonious coexistence as the theme background, ingeniously integrating fashion and classic visual elements into the street life
Like repairing a painting, the teams carefully removed some colors from the block scenes and added some other colors. In the repeated sampling and comparison to the sites, they managed to recede the vicissitudes of life from the buildings and the street, showing more hierarchical charm and vitality. Comparing the scenes before and after the renovation, people find that the familiar street is added with greater order and vitality.
06 围墙之辩 The roles of community walls
Community walls are one of the most common elements in old neighborhoods. In most people’s understanding, the walls also represent their ownership of land and the definition of administrative boundaries. This understanding brought us great communication pressure in the Leshan community project.
It started with the narrow sidewalks of Leshan sub-street. On both sides of the Leshan Road before the renovation, the average width of the sidewalks was less than 1 meter. In the places where non-motor vehicles were parked or shade trees were planted, human foot traffic lines were interrupted, forcing people to dodge back and forth between vehicles on the motorway. At the same time, the other side of the walls was mostly idle space, piled up with debris, or overgrown with weeds. So we proposed if the wall could be conceded 1-2 meters inside the red line, we would free up the walking space on the side of the sidewalk.
▽改造后的围墙形态改善乱停车的情况，为街道活动提供了更多可停留与交流的空间 The renovated fence walls improve the disorderly parking condition and provides more space for stay and communication in street activities
Unexpectedly, this simple idea sparked a fierce response. The communities and schools involved in the changes of wall locations in our proposal voted against us, because everyone mistook this was to reduce the area of their land property rights. No one would agree. So, we had a door-to-door, face-to-face explanation and communication along with the sub-street working group.
First of all, we explained that the land boundary on the property certificate is the legal basis for the official land ownership, and the change in the form of the walls completely does not affect the right of the property owners to use these lands. Secondly, we carefully analyzed the functional changes caused by the corrected position of each wall, which were beneficial to the use of the residents: Outside the kindergarten gate, the concession of the wall set aside the distance between the motorway and the pick-up area, making parents’ waiting and children’s access safer. Outside the community walls, with the inward movement of the walls, the width of the sidewalk could accommodate both pedestrians and non-motor vehicle parking. The newly built fence walls stretched out a canopy to the sidewalk, and lighting facilities could illuminate the ground at night. Hard work paid off. Thanks to the understanding and support of Leshan residents and schools, the old walls finally moved their positions with the joint efforts of everyone.
▽改造前乐山幼儿园围墙 The fence wall of Leshan Kindergarten before the renovation
▽围墙的微调后既为街区老人预留休闲交流的座椅，又用景观的方式解决了隔墙抛物的问题 After the wall was fine-tuned, it reserves seats for leisure and communication for the elderly in the block, and solves the problem of partition wall projectile in the way of landscape
The street space transformation of Leshan community has experienced more than 8 months of design and site work. SHUISHI, along with multiple inter-professional designer teams from the planning, architecture, landscape and vision fields, reflected and designed from the perspectives of city, humanities, community governance and site use, accumulating new practical experience and achievements for block renewal of high-density core urban areas. We would like to thank in particular the Xujiahui sub-street committee, Leshan community residents and the school for giving us the strong understanding and support.
Project Name: Renovation of street blocks in Leshan community, Xujiahui, Shanghai
Construction unit: Xuhui District Xujiahui Sub-District Office
Design time: 2021
Completion date: 2022
Design unit: SHUISHI
Design Consultant: Shen He
Planning and Design of Block Public Space & Architectural Design:
SHUISHI Urban Regeneration Center
Landscape design: SHUISHI landscape Design Department Ⅲ
Visual Design: SHUISHI Technology R&D center – urban space visual design department
Public Art Design: Shanghai Yulinjia Art Engineering Center
Structural design: Jimu engineering
Project photography: Wang Xiu, Yang Yang
Article written by Dong Yijia
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