Weihai Cultural District
The Wei Hai Cultural and Industrial park will form a new cultural heart of the city. This proposal reflects a concerted effort to rethink fundamental notions of what a city is and what makes it successful. We have attempted to move beyond standard urban design solutions in order to bring to the proposal the innovation and specialty of character that Wei Hai deserves.
Our ideas stem from a few basic principles. We see a successful urban area as one that has a rich typological variety, vibrant common spaces, and provides a framework for a wide tableau of urban life. To achieve this our concept creates centres of exacerbated difference where each of the programmatic areas of the district have their own identity. This creates a plurality of experiences in close proximity which is the hallmark of a successful cultural area.
1. Continuing The Red Roofs of Wei Hai On entering the city for the first time, one is struck by the beauty of the red roofs of Wei Hai. This distinctive feature ties old and new together creating a common language for the architecture of the city. We embrace this language and continue to use it as a fundamental part of our proposal. The cultural district will be a city of roofs with the architecture creating a dramatic roofscape visible from the surrounding hills. It is a continuance of traditions and a unique urban statement appropriate to such a significant development. The distinctive gable form an analogous connection to the historic fabric of the city. and the rhythm of the roofs create the texture and grain that binds the district together and links it to the wider city. The roof is the grammar with which we construct the district.
2. Capturing Cultural Intensity The great cultural neighborhoods of the world are memorable because of an intensity of cultural activities in close proximity. In our initial research we looked at the Southbank and Bloomsbury in London and found that what makes them successful is precisely this overlapping of programs in well defined open spaces. We have applied these lessons to create a world class cultural district in Wei Hai. Our proposal captures different programmatic areas in different circlesallowing each to take on its own identity. By
allowing this exacerbated difference to form, overlaps in plan become a source of experiential richness that will create a true cultural heart for the city.
3. Creating Promenade Connections Connecting the different areas of the district are grand promenades which define the main axis of the proposal. Strong axis which structure a layered urban fabric has long been a tradition of Chinese city making. The two axis in the proposal represent two complimentary aspects of landscape; earth and water. The water axis connects diagonally across the site linking the landmark tower with the office and residential areas, the earth axis connects the main park with the media plaza. Where the axis intersect is the main cultural centre at the heart of the scheme. These are pedestrian walkways which will host street activities alongside leafy shopping boulevards and offices.
4. Defining Memorable Architecture At the centre of the circular captures are the special moments of the design, the cultural buildings themselves. Presented as unique objects on civic podiums, the architecture has a sculptural lightness and play that will be a memorable addition to Wei Hai. The positioning of the buildings creates an intimate connection with the common space of the circles, activating it with the grand display of cultural performances.
5. Rethinking Creative Environments The building fabric that binds all aspects of the scheme together is a new typology of architecture. It combines the terrace house with the shopping arcade to create a unique spatial organisation that caters for creative industries and retail environments. Our proposal constitutes a thorough rethinking of the creative office environment. Work spaces are interspersed with ample common spaces and an active ground plane to create communities with a high degree of social connectivity. In bringing together creative professionals with cultural events in a vibrant and dynamic urban setting, the district will be enticing location for many young businesses.
- Location: Weihai, China
- Use: Cultural District Urban Design Plan
- Client: The City of Weihai
- Status: Competition 2013
- Design Team: Chris Lee, Kapil Gupta, Stephi Qin Sun, Martin Jameson, Bolam Lee, Patrick Usborne, Simon Whittle, Fei Wu, Huang Tao