June 27, 2008

Super Bloc Superblocks

Over the past 50 years, Chinese city centers have developed very large blocks. Soviet planning brought International Style architecture and CIAM modernism to Chinese cities. The small, disordered alleyway was to be replaced by the order of the automotive-scaled thoroughfare. In this Corbusian vision, dense towers concentrate land use, leaving park space across the city. The lessons learned are that without careful attention, this actually obliterates human scale and walkability. A grid with fewer roads may exacerbate traffic as drivers have fewer routes.

Blocks here are often 600 meters or longer between through streets. (By comparison, Manhattan are 80 x 275 meters.) The interiors of these blocks are highly varied. Some contain blocks within blocks as cycles of development and in-fill have created layered spaces and cul-de-sacs. Many areas are walled off. Others are contained by continuous building frontages. As Beijing demolishes its historic hutong neighborhoods, some redevelopments present new spatial patterns with open plazas and throughways that break-up the superblocks. Scholars have studied the importance of walls and compounds to the Chinese. We will be doing some research into the physical forms of these blocks and the actual use of space. We'll try to understand a bit of how these spaces are being transformed, and how their use is formed by --and impacts-- planning and redevelopment processes.

More photos and notes here

Corbusier: "The Ordered City, the Chaotic City"

Corbusier: The Radiant City

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting photos and info.