November 12, 2012 - January 30, 2012
Wild Be[ij]ing is a direct forward attempt to deal with uncontrolled urban emergences. It inspects Beijing, a wild city of unprecedented rapid growth, in which logics for production of urban substance are constantly shifting and reinvented.
Wild Be[ij]ing is a direct forward attempt to deal with uncontrolled urban emergences. It inspects Beijing, a wild city of unprecedented rapid growth, in which logics for production of urban substance are constantly shifting and reinvented. It seeks to deploy a strategic proposal in response to the interweaving reality: instead of the current regulating process; it takes the urban as field of action and offers strategies for intensifying the mobile density through enabling the massive subversive forces. In turn, it will expose the city’s future of unprecedented three-dimensional congestion – a hyper-dense city.
In this approach, Wild Be[ij]ing tries to merges two seemingly opposing concepts of urbanity into one: the top-down plan that treats developments as lockdown enclaves; the unregulated activities that flood the urban ground. It propagates a new urban process by using the vast urbanizing developments as a framework to proliferate street commerce – instead of being parasitical, unregulated activities can weave into the rigid structure of existing residential blocks and disturb it like a virus infection. Once they reach the critical masses that catalyst the ferment, the city will reinvent itself as an uninterrupted continuation of hyper-dense artificial landscape capable of accommodating all manners of street life.
Paradoxical as it may be, the past decade of urban development has reflected that, the execution of an ideal of modernism’s urban planning have, in turn, generated a reality to its opposite end – a far more complex condition even intensifies diversities. To the point that today the metropolis is nothing but a defined one.
The urban transformations that have come to pass around the world, in American, European, and above all, Asian are filled with wild mutations. In a way, the physical transformations of urban field consist of hamperings, congestions and violent eruptions in different directions. These emergences present something metaphorical about the structure of the order, or non-order, by which the cities actually grow.
In an unspeakable way, such sign is embodied in Emmet Gowin’ landscape photos: The plan of the pivot agriculture as a presupposed unitary control is disturbed by its harvest traffic. The dynamic interaction which bring the static back to life finally results in a chaotic pattern….
Urban as field of action
In testing the capacity of the evolutionary model to deal with the phenomena and the process of physical mutation of the city, we should look at the urban as a field of action, in which juxtaposition, intersecting, rupture, and eruption…all of these dynamic layers work together toward a new hyper-active situation.
The city is inundated with innovative urban upheavals – points and lines of dense grassroots activities in the urban surface are viewed as “vertical” eruption of the underlying dynamics. Their intensified changes are understood as the link between urban rupture and temporal conflict. Acting in such pinch points of the city, social subsystems are often suspended in a situation of internal cohesion rather than integrated to the territorial networks in which they are simultaneous involved, but their interaction processes can serve as a tool box for new modes of intervention. By investigating the varies evolution of these “eruptive” facts, a programmatic catalogue can be build up used to activate the urban space and offer strategies for intensifying the dynamic density through enabling the massive subversive forces.
The explosive urbanization in Beijing opens a new level of urban growth. Under the desire of development, the city is giving all way to consumer economy, leading to the relent relocation of inner-city inhabitants, disappearance of historical identity, rapid construction of monotonous world-class skyscrapers. But even the wildest reality contain certain profound quality. The urban as a complex situation involves the active participation of the masses. The question is how the overflow of density will land in a way that does not kill its unique vitality, constructing an alternative city based on multiplicity and heterogeneity.
Focus on Wild Be[ij]ing
Wild Be[ij]ing take the temporal dimension of the change as an opportunity of dynamic situation to question the city’s profound quality in the present reality.
Beijing’s urban transformation shows an accelerated evolution process from the single and simple to the diverse and manifold. It has been experiencing an incredible magnitude of urban growth since the last quarter of the past century. In a decade, 5 million rural migrants have rushed into the city. Their new vision of the city reshaped the urban ground in an unprecedented explosive way. The largely uncontrolled economic upheavals presented its domestic urban condition as a paradigm of urban wildness that thrives against any prediction from the discipline. Beijing’s future is unpredictable, only one thing is for sure, that urban planning can never hold up the energy of onstant eruptions.
The main driving force of the recent rapid economic development is the acceptance of a powerful and uncompromising ideology of late-captalism. Beijing as a city-state, mostly urged by free market forces, there is no time to think or reflect. The strain on infrastructure are becoming increasingly apparent. Old buildings are torn down and cleared up the next day for new constructions. While this untapped fast growth happening in such a large scale, Land, as a factor of production in limited supply, would lead to diminishing returns: the overall benefit will relatively decrease after a certain point of sprawl. The up coming 6th and 7th ring roads seem already go beyond the point where infrastructural development in the newly established area becomes economic unfeasible. The city is undergoing with “thinning out”. As a synthesis representation of the density, floor area per capital and land cost, most of these numerous constructions is located between 3rd Ring and 5th ring. Formally diffused boundary of the city is becoming intense urban battlefield.
In contrast, the rapid urbanization is paired by over-population, joblessness and poverty in the rural area. Rural migrants have entered the city. Because of no secured employment, they rushed into any open public space and flooded it with innumerable street trades. This has inevitably resulted in the spread of squatter settlements and shanty “village in the city”. The only way we can describe the city is a state of constant instability: There is a huge urban migration resulting in 20% floating population without settled jobs and an exacerbating income gap between the newly rich and the remaining poor. This presents Beijing as a serious challenge and at the same time a paradigm for wild construction/reconstruction.
At this moment, there is no given urban grammar for the haphazard development in Beijing. However, there are some inductive quality in some of those area , which can in turn, be developed or already developing, a subversive logic of urban nomad strategy. That is one based on the ill-defined public ownership and its relation to private initiative. Private initiative appeared as the most possibility to fulfill demands of growing masses and move economy from the previous centralized planned to a chaotic stage of dispersed developments, shuffling the urban ingredients to keep their variety and vitality. The evolution of such urban typologies will be used as anchoring points to activate the urban space. This “developers” logic might be elusory, but is constructing to a large scale of development.
Research for Alternative
At this moment, Beijing produces itself as an urban laboratory of innovative substances, from which new strategy will be drawn that allow urban interventions tapping into the real time evolution of lived space.
In order to tap into the real time transformation of the city, there are several co-operating components going through the research:
1. Specific locale. i.e. particular sections of the city in a specific period of time. They are taken as inductive to certain quality, and even zoomed into certain block for detained analysis.
2. Discontinuity / heterogeneity, new program, wild growth which cannot be represented by the “plan”.
3. New language and techniques to tap into the situation, restate them in certain aspects.
Site – Da Hong Men Migrants Area
Since late 1980s, the flux from the rural populations to the urban area has been poorly matched by land reclamation. The way they carve into the urban surface, is like scars disfigure a face – migrants share common hometown concentrate in the camp, formally termed “village in the city” – scattered in between ring roads.
During one and a half decades, Da hong men area grew from a diffused suburban area with small villages and a couple of factories to the most contested urban area of the city. With a distinct 0.11 million migrants (mostly from the Zhejiang Province) and 40 thousand original inhabitants concentrated in less than 10 km2 of land. The density reaches 15000 p/km2. As the continuous low residences near the inner city are replaced by new block/tower developments, the small villages grows quickly to accommodate migrants. The land of the former fabric and wood factories is encroached by small initiatives and sold illegally to residential developers for making profits. As the new developments are forced out, the migrants start to look for sites within former oil refineries to build their new “migrant village”.
In early stages, garment venders blossomed along the lines of transportation flux while rapidly intensified towards any possible open public space and take hold of it. The flooding of this huge network simply finds its way around any institutional authority, remaining mobile to escape prosecution. In a moment, the local administrator did consider legitimate spontaneous markets. Bits by bits of clearing is processed and empty temporary structure is provided. All available city space gradually turned into testing grounds for new commerce through dense juxtaposition of formally unrelated units. As a result of incessant spatial reconfiguration, the possibility of arranging programs are far more stretched then ever conceived.
Studying everyday life, the ensemble of personal territories, shows that the periphery of Beijing is not an archipelago, it does not work as a collection of detached enclaves held together by infrastructure. Its urbanity moves in between the masses, in between the flooding of surface area by massive amount of people, in between the coexistence of opposing top-down plan and unregulated activities.
We also have to move away from the prevailing modernist urbanism in which “top-down” and “bottom-up” have been framed in binary oppositions, as mutually exclusive and inherently incompatible aspect of the urbanity. The face-to-face contact turned out to offer a far more mixed spatiality that necessitate a “transitional urban intervention”, to bridge together the territories that has been kept apart, to augment the transitional connections and to steer its development trajectory for prosperity.
What is enabling?
Urban Reforming Test
Through investigating the evolution of spontaneous facts, stirring the mechanism of wildness across different layers, EWB propose dynamic design procedures as a means of choreographing simultaneously the inhabitants, small initiatives, market and institutional forces. It aims at augmenting mobile density in relation to the continuous changing parameters in the urban environments. Below are three consecutive tests on pieces of urban fragments, which belong to a tangible, urgent, all-encompassing situation. They might be of different scale, different stage, attacking different aspect of an existing system – They aren’t providing a complete set of answers of the city in present, nor do I desire to offer one, rather, They are posing possibilities of desirable future scenarios. The transformation takes time, eventually the site will be activated with increasingly diversified compactness in the territory to withstand any given form of order, either centralized monopoly or flaccid sprawl.
SCENARIO #1: Attacking Privatized Space
The urban paradox now presents itself as an interface between seemingly disengaged elements: the lockdown developments and the street commerce. while merging them towards one network of urban dynamic, it propagates a new urban process of using the vast urbanizing developments as a framework for the street commerce to proliferate – instead of being parasitical, unregulated activities can weave into the rigid structure of existing residential blocks and disturb it, in a way like virus infection.
SCENARIO #2: Altering Public Space
Densifying the fast-growing mobile population within theconstraint of existing urban infrastructure. Vivid spatial connections inserted into the blighted structure, stimulating a multitude of scenarios that offer new possibilities of blending urban ingredients, and adapt them to the urban realm of wildness. They gradually take hold of the public pace and in turn back-engineer the entire infrastructure using the informal, nomadic activities, to reach a new vertically congested city.
SCENARIO #3: Urban Implosion
With underlying the necessity of response to an all-encompassing realm, the “violence” is unavoidable in the urban field. The truth that every urban form confines human occupancy, in the reciprocal way that human intrudes the urban space, such violent process will serve as the fundamental blue print for a new intervention. Rather than leaving all the forces submerge in the detached environment, EWB try to enhance the collision between the fields of action and the physical urban space, to reveal its potential of an urban implosion.
When such implosion find way to its physical presents on the urban surface, it works as an epicenter of a vast underground energy release. The life and death of numberous energy epicenters from different aspects of everyday life together form a bigger picture of the ever densifying future city – the Beijing “DONUT”
how epicenter grows
The future of hyper-density has yet to come…