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There are cities and then there is Beijing. As one of the world’s largest and oldest urban areas, it is indeed easy to imagine how a city like this—one inhabited continuously for over three thousand years, oneseemingly propelled on a lightspeed course straight into the future on the inertia of its own history—would be well aware of its tradition. Yet Beijing is a city that defies logic, one that has been growing and changing at a mindboggling speed. Blink, and something that was there only seconds ago may have suddenly vanished and forgotten.

 

有许许多多的城市,而我们选择了北京。作为世界上最大最古老的城市地域,不难去想象北京城——一个有着三千年历史的人类聚居地,一个拥有深厚历史并以光速推向未来的城市——非常重视它的传统。但北京却是一个不遵从任何逻辑的城市,一个以令人难以想象的速度生长和变化的城市。眨眼间,几秒钟之前存在着的事物就会突然消失,甚至被遗忘。

 

We think we know the entire story. Articles upon articles describe how internet-based commerce, improved logistics, flows of transnational goods, and the expansion of service industries on a global scale have all contributed to anextraordinaryamount of growth in urban areas. Speed reigns in the globalized 21st century—people and things move faster across borders than ever. And no matter whether we decide to look at all, some, or none of these kinds of facts and figures, the most compelling evidence for this growth remains visible. Cities like Beijing become known for their congestion and pollution. For every picture of a clogged traffic arterial or overcrowded train, there appears another showing a cloak of brown smog enveloping the city. Such are the visions of our urban future, and no matter whether we live in New York, London, Kuala Lumpur, Mexico City, or Mumbai, it is one that we share with Beijing.

 

我们自以为了解整个故事的情节。无数的文章都在描述全球范围内的互联网交易、不断增强的物流、跨国贸易以及服务业的扩展是如何使得城市空间超负荷的扩张。“速度”统领着全球化的21世纪——人和事物都以前所未有的速度跨越现有的边界。无论我们是否想要去探究全部、局部、亦或是忽视这些事实和数据,这种扩张的有力证据仍然是显而易见的。北京城的拥堵和污染众人皆知,伴随每张交通堵塞或是拥挤的地铁的照片,都能看到另一张整个城市被厚厚的雾霾笼罩着的照片。这便是我们城市未来的图景,无论我们是居住在纽约、伦敦、吉隆坡、墨西哥城还是孟买,它是我们共同面临的问题。

 

The reality of the situation does not fit neatly into any of the above narratives we read in the world’s newspapers or through websites. It is true that urban growth of such unprecedented scale and rate can alter the physical makeup of a city rather drastically. Again, Beijingis different. Consider the narrow alleyway connecting courtyard residences, or Hutong [胡同], which has been the exemplar of Beijing’s urbanism since the city became the capital during the Yuan dynasty. Hutongs have provided legions of critics and writers with the necessary fuel to decry the rapid pace of urban growth and its destructive effects on traditional urban fabrics. We often hear how Hutongs have been demolished in the maw of modernization and construction. The truth of the matter is that Beijing is a city that has remained in a state of suspended animation, one that has been weathering massive political and social upheavals in ways others could not. It was not until the 1990s, a period marked by a massive influx of global capital, that Beijing began to truly changein its physical form. Hutongs, however, continued to play a constant and important role in the organization of urban spacethroughout this time.They not only defined administrative areas, but also became the nexus of socio-cultural life. And as urban demolition slowed in preparation for the 2008 Olympic Games, Hutongs proved to be more resilient than ever. Many would remain for use by government or other “danwei”- state or local administrative or military owned organization. In all, Hutongs are here to stay. They remind us that the reality of Beijing’s urban situation is too rich and too complex and resist any attempt to classify it in terms of tradition versus modernization. Today Hutongs not only provide a glimpse into Beijing’s long and heralded history, but they are a cultural and physical reality providing a key to a prosperous urban life in the future.

 

现实的情况和我们在世界各大报纸和网站上看到的故事并不完全相同。当然,这种史无先例的城市增长速度和尺度会剧烈的改变城市的面貌。但仍然,北京不仅仅是这样。想想那些连接着四合院的狭窄巷道——胡同,这是从北京成为元大都时就形成了的城市特征。胡同给大量的评论家和作家提供了批判城市急速增长和对传统都市肌理带来破坏的素材。我们经常听到胡同被夹裹在现代化的造城运动中被蚕食。但事实上北京是一个曾停滞于“假死”状态的城市,也是一个曾经历过大量政治和社会动荡的城市。直到90年代,一个标志着国际资金大量涌入的时期,北京才真正开始产生空间形态上的改变。而胡同持续的在城市空间中扮演着重要的角色。它们不仅定义了行政区划,而且成为了社会文化生活的联结点。尤其是为2008年奥运会的筹备而减缓了拆除改造旧城的步伐时,胡同进一步证明了它的顽强。很多胡同都被政府和其他“单位”使用着——这些单位可能是国有的、地方的或军方的产权。总之,胡同留了下来。它提醒我们北京的城市现实过于多样和复杂,足以颠覆任何试图就传统与现代将其进行定义的尝试。今天的胡同,不仅使人们能对北京悠久的而带有预示性的历史得以一窥,并且作为一种文化与物质的存在,它们也为人们提供了一把开启都市未来的钥匙。

 

[META:HUTONGS] recognizes that as Beijing changes so do Hutongs. We recognize that discussions are deadlocked between opposing views concerning the city. Public discussions here have revolved around the utopia idea of PRESERVATION and have celebrated the value of Beijing’s architecture for historical preservationists as well as for advocates of commercial redevelopment. Yet some developers have embraced the dystopian ideal of DEMOLITION as necessary to accommodate new growth. A different voice is needed, one that mediates between these utopian and dystopian realities! An alternative model of regeneration is in order, one that looks at the CURRENT REALITY from the point of view of one on the ground, so to speak. This alternative model must consider the Hutong as a laboratory that experiments with the current Beijing, a city teeming with energy and passion. This model does not want to take sides. It seeks allegiance with neither preservationists nor with demolitionists. It does not want to resuscitate a utopian fantasy, and it certainly does not want to condemn the dystopian impulse. [META:HUTONGS] is this alternative model. It is a cross-disciplinary investigation whose purpose is to create an exploratory atmosphere with the goal of creating a new understanding that celebrates the unique quality of Hutong culture, and which creates PROJECTIVE FUTURE possibilities.

 

[超胡同]认识到胡同在与北京一起发生着改变。我们发现关于城市的讨论陷入对立观点的僵局中,一方面公众舆论导向乌托邦式的保护,文保主义者津津乐道于北京古建保护的历史价值,并且倡导对业已“死去”的虚伪形式进行商业再开发。而另一方面激进的开发商却在极力拥护反乌托邦式的“推倒重来”,并且认为这是接纳新增长的必要手段。我们需要一个不一样的声音,一个介乎于乌托邦和反乌托邦之间面对现实的声音。一种替代性的城市再生模型正在涌现,它将从此时此地的观察出发,关注当下现实。这一非传统的模型将胡同当做一个城市创新改造的实验场地,为当下喧嚣涌动的北京城寻找出路。这一模型不带有任何预设的立场,既不与保护主义者结盟也不与破坏者为伍。我们不希望唤醒怀旧乌托邦的幻想,也不希望苛责现实的压力与冲动。[超胡同]所寻找的就是这样的模型:通过跨学科的调查和研究,营造一种探索性的氛围,以创造新的理解方式为目标,来发扬胡同文化的特质,并通向未来的种种可能。

 


Theoretical Framework


理论框架

Paradoxical as it may seem, even the most celebrated and emergent urban researchers of the past decade have presented a mode of thinking that has been an impediment to the approach which our discipline has spent over a century trying to construct. Architects and urbanists traffic in the business of the contemporary. We seek techniques, instruments, and theories that allow us to intervene effectively in the “terrain vague” that is contemporary urban space. From an urbanistic point of view, high modernist planning has not created an ideal model of urbanism. It has done the opposite, to the point that today, the urban condition can be anything but a defined one.


听起来似乎是矛盾的,但即使是近十年来最著名的城市研究学者所提出的思考模式,却成为对我们学科近一个世纪以来试图建立的方法论的反对。现今的建筑师和城市学者只关注于眼前。我们寻找各种技术、工具和理论,让我们能够在当代城市空间的“模糊地带”进行有效的干预。从城市学的角度来说,高度现代化的规划并没有为城市带来一个理想的模型。相反的,直到今天为止,城市现状仍处于一种无法被定义的状态。


At this moment, the Hutongs in the center of Beijing are an laboratory where new knowledge can be produced that will allow for interventions to tap into the potential of the urban present—a present in which the Hutong’s interior spaces, its narrow paths, serendipitous encounters, observations, experiences have coalesced to create a new, living organism. In short, the Hutong has become another creature, a new “urban vernacular” living and thriving inside the megacity.


当前,北京城中心的胡同俨然成为了这座城市创新改造的实验场地。这里将产生出允许我们更深入的介入到城市现状所需的知识,这一现状凝聚了胡同的内部空间,那些窄巷、邂逅、观察、体验,共同创造出了一个充满活力的生命体。简言之,胡同变成了另一种产物,一种在巨大的城市中生存并繁荣的“城市土著”。

 


Urban Emergence


城市涌现

Urban emergences in America, Europe, and above all, in Asia are all characterized by wild mutations. Obstructions, congestions and violent eruptions appear, disappear, and reappear through the multiple layers of everyday life. For us, these urban emergences are metaphorical. They suggest and represent the mechanisms of order (or of non-order) that are the engines for urban growth.


在美国、欧洲、尤其是亚洲产生的种种“城市涌现”,其特征是狂野的城市变异。阻碍、拥堵、以及猛烈地爆发,在日常生活的诸多层面中出现,消失,然后又出现。对于我们来说,这些“城市涌现”是一种对现实的隐喻,它们间接体现了城市发展的原动力——即秩序(或无序)背后的运行机制。

 


Field of Actions


作用场地

In order to test the capacity of this evolutionary model to explain and confront the physical mutations and processes of the city—as a basis for understanding the new relationship between architecture and the metropolises of today—we propose that the “urban” is in reality a Field of Actions: juxtapositions, intersections, ruptures, and eruptions; in short, a series of dynamic layers working together toward a new hyperactive situation.


为了检验这个演化模型能够在多大程度上解释和印证城市的物理变异过程——这是理解当代建筑和大都市关系的基础——我们建议将“城市”理解成一个多种行为共同的作用场地:并置、交错、断裂和喷发;简言之,就是一系列动态层级共同作用以达到一种超活跃的城市状态。

 


Meta-evolution


超进化

To speak of evolution is to speak of a multi-layered feedback system. In this recursive process, certain tendenciesaccelerate evolution into new levels of complexity, and the production of its evolution in turn retroacts in its evolutional trajectory. This is “Meta-Evolution,” the evolution of evolutionary mechanisms in the ongoing process of life.


进化实际上是一种多层级的自反馈系统。在这个循环的过程中,某些趋势将进化加速提升到一种更高的复杂性层级,而后其进化的结果反过来又作用于进化自身的轨迹——这就是“超进化”:生命过程中的进化机制的进化。

 


Project Structure


项目结构

[META:HUTONGS]is comprised of 4 phases over a 2-year period, all instigated by Shuo Wang and Andy Bryant:


[超胡同]由四个阶段组成,将历时两年。是由王硕和安竹·布莱恩特发起的。


Phase One (MAPPING) consists of creating graphic representations of visible/invisible data as layers of information. Through a series of on-site documentation, the project will construct a comprehensive mapping of Hutong areas, visualizing the physical and social characteristics of space and the quotidian activities within those environments. The objective is to understand the interactions between these different layers.


第一阶段(映象):其组成部分是基于可见的/不可见的层叠信息创建的视觉呈现。通过一系列现场的数据记录,本项目将建立一个胡同空间完整的映象,将空间的物理和社会属性以及这些环境中的日常行为进行可视化表达。此阶段的目标是理解不同层级之间的相互关联及影响。


For Phase Two (COLLABRATIVE PLATFORM), the project will create a portal website as a research platform. This is a depository of previous research/ideas on the Hutongs and a medium for furthering dialog.


第二阶段(协作平台):项目将建立一个胡同维基网站作为合作研究的平台。网站既是一个基于之前的胡同研究/想法的资料库,也是一个未来产生对话的媒介。


During Phase Three (SIMULATION), the project will extend to multi-disciplinary workshops utilizing the support of universities. During these workshops, dynamic modeling for understanding the processes of urban emergence will be generated and allow to test simulations.


第三阶段(模拟):项目将会充分利用与学校及其他学术机构的合作,拓展出多个跨学科的工作坊。在这些工作坊中,将会产生理解“城市涌现”过程的动态模型,并进行模拟测试。


Phase Four (PROJECTION) will deploy the knowledge accumulated from previous stages. The project will work with key participants to develop concept scenarios for projection of what the future of Hutongs could be. Following this, active interventions within select Hutong areas will be realized including use of multi-media installations, and artistic interventions.


第四阶段(投射):将把前三个阶段积累的知识在现实中进行展开。项目将邀请关键参与者共同协作,发展出投射胡同未来的概念场景。随后,将会在选定的胡同空间中运用多媒体装置和艺术作品等方式进行积极的介入。



Project Objective (Deliverables)


项目目标及成果

As an alternative to one-off or simplified proposals and strategies, [META:HUTONGS] is a polydisciplinary initiative that will bring together researchers, media artists, curators, historians, social anthropologists and universities resulting in a series of workshops, publications and events centered around key sets of issues related to the reality of Hutongs. The outcomes of these investigations will be tested through active engagement within select Hutong areas and include interactive installations, socially minded interventions and projective urban models. The goal of these interventions is to raise an awareness and dialogue in regards to the local situation to reveal unique potentials of this urban situation.


不同于一次性的提议或简化的策略,[超胡同]是为多学科交流而发起的。它将汇聚研究者、媒体艺术家、策展人、历史学家、社会人类学家和各个学校,围绕着与胡同现实相联的关键问题,展开一系列工作坊、公共活动以及相关的出版物。这些调查研究的结果将通过介入选定的胡同区域来进行测试,介入的方式包括互动装置、社会层面的干涉以及城市投射模型。这种干预的目标是引发人们对当地现状的思考和对话,以揭示这一城市现状独特的潜力。


During this two-year period, the project will produce specific, original research concepts and actions. This includes photo-text publications, website content and video documentation of the interactive installations, workshops, online dialogue/provocations and exhibitions. These will be presented as part of other public events/exhibitions including the Beijing Design Week, Architectural Biennial Beijing, Get it Louder, and other festivals in China and abroad.


在两年的时间里,[超胡同]项目将会产生出独创的、特定的研究观点及行动。这当中包括图文出版物、网站内容及在线对话、互动装置、工作坊、展览及相关的影像记录。并将作为其他公众活动/展览的一部分呈现在北京国际设计周、大声展以及国内外的其他展会上。


The project maneuvers between indefiniteness and specificity in search of types of emergence that are “local indexes.” We intend to decipher and decode the meta-evolution behind the Hutongs, in which the “dirty realism” of present urban culture gives way to a different reality. Our ambition is to expose new approaches for understanding and dissemination of these urban emergences and projections. Through active interventions into these locales, a meaningful engagement with its constituents can be explored, generating dialoguein order to rethink the future of these urban areas and to actively explore new possibilities.


[超胡同]项目游走于不确定性与特定性之间,寻找能够代表“地方特色”的城市涌现。我们试图去解译胡同超进化的遗传密码,在破解当今城市文化这种“混乱现状”的同时找到一条通向另一种现实的道路。更长远的目标是以一种新的方式,将我们对这种城市涌现及其未来的理解和传播展现出来。通过积极地本土介入,以及促使当地居民的有效参与,产生出一个能够重新考虑城市未来可能性的对话。












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