"I know that these techniques work from the tough environment of practice. I love the world of analysis, observation, of research, but also passion, imprecision, the hunch. Space Syntax is the testing of the interaction of these opposing worlds."
Working as a design union, The China Academy of Urban Planning & Design (CAUPD) and Space Syntax have created a low carbon masterplan for the extension of Beijing’s CBD – one that puts people first.
The Central Business District (CBD) of Beijing is schedule to grow substantially in the near future. Initial growth is designated for the Chaoyang district to its north-east. Seven teams, including one co-led by Space Syntax, were invited to create visions for this expansion. The brief for the competition put a significant emphasis on the twin themes of sustainability and people-centred design.
The existing CBD is characterised by high levels of vehicle traffic, high demands on public transport infrastructure and energy-intensive buildings. People travel long distances to reach the CBD and there is a high degree of severance between the CBD and surrounding neighbourhoods. There is a shortage of public open space and of convivial, non-commercial activities.
CAUPD invited Space Syntax to create a “design union” to tackle these problems and, in doing so, to develop a radically different vision for the future. Space Syntax contributed both visionary design thinking and objective urban evaluation techniques to the design union.
The design union developed a vision for Chaoyang that has five guiding principles: first, to celebrate the deep history of the district, including the ancient movement routes and landmark buildings; second, to integrate new development with the existing CBD and the surrounding urban neighbourhoods in order to embrace the wider city; third, to promote a total energy solution for the new CBD incorporating resource-efficient consumption and renewable energy generation; fourth, to establish a civic identity for the new CBD based on human-scale streets and public spaces; fifth, to balance historic preservation with redevelopment to create a harmonious historic continuity.
A set of core planning principles were developed with CAUPD to guide further design development. The design principles were then brought together into a spatial layout that was tested and developed using Space Syntax’s urban modelling technology.
The overall vision is to create a new, low carbon environment that offers a place for human interaction and a stage for cultural celebration. Every building within this vision has been designed to be a power station, generating energy and controlling emissions. The masterplan includes sustainable transport systems in which pedestrian movement, cyclists and public transport usage are encouraged by connecting key routes for different transport modes at every scale.