MEGA-CITY . Shenzen Bay


The project for a new mega-city in Shenzhen Bay is a unique opportunity to produce a new architectural expression for the Global Downtown of the 21st Century.

Global downtowns throughout the world, generated by the pressures of consolidated capital, population and infrastructure, aimed at attracting increased amounts of capital and human resources. The need provide high concentration and interconnection of employment and residential space to boost competitiveness can only be resolved on a unitary scale, rather as an expression of singular competing forces. The previous model of Downtown has become obsolete: the city of exceptions, based on the premises of corporate capitalism is unable to either enable or represent these emerging forces which is effectively turning the whole city into a single building. A new sense of unitariness and genericness will define the new generation of global downtowns. Shenzhen Bay will become the forerunner of a new breed of global new mega-cities characterized by a continuous physical system laid over natural and artificial topographies.

Eroded Urbanism is a new urban prototype developed for deployment on the (soon typical) mega-city. In the age of mass urbanization, the seamless continuity and formal indetermination of Eroded Urbanism will provide the flexibility to constantly adjust to any type of market and scale of development.
Eroded Urbanism is based on the idea of the city as a flexible container, indifferent to land use or density: because of its structure is capable to work with any type, program, scale or density.
Eroded Urbanism explores the articulation of the approximate. It begins as a new generic typology of efficiency and evolves to a modulated, articulated whole with an ideal ecological performance and systematic spatial variety. The proposal exists at the middle-ground between top-down comprehensive master planning and bottom-up, site-specific development. It creates a new, cohesive and varied whole capable of shifting use and performance based on evolving, often unpredictable market turns.
In Shenzhen Bay Mega-City we are generating the city as a sequence of squares, containers of public space rather than lines of flow. The traditional correlation between urban form and traffic grid is no longer necessary in the new hyper-dense new urban conditions of global downtowns.
The Shenzhen Bay Mega-City does not revolve around the topography and the traffic arteries, like in the traditional cities. Its structure emerges from the conflict between the solid-state structure of the city and the vectors and flows that cross it: vehicles, people, water, air are the agents that carve the solid-state form into a new form or the urban. The traffic structure of Shenzhen Bay Mega-City is designed around the hypothesis that adequate public transport will be provided to the area through the Shekou Line Station and the interchange box for lines 9 and 10. Urban Bus Transport will be also guaranteed by the infrastructure being planned on the site. Therefore, the main traffic arteries have been planned for a diminishing automobile use, aiming at pedestrian connectivity across main arteries. There is an average block site of 200x200m with a two-way traffic system with two lanes per direction. In some of the blocks, and internal, one-way lane will be able to bring traffic inside of the larger blocks. Parking will be systematically placed underground.

Eroded Urbanism departs from a continuous and complete mass of built fabric: a three-dimensional solid primitive which has been carved out in order to ensure air and daylight supply in all spaces as a generating principle. The ideal solid of Eroded Urbanism always produces naturally cross-ventilated and daylit interiors; that is why its ideal shape is a waffle-like structure, a sequence of ideally scaled urban squares, divided by ideally dimensioned intersecting slabs. Eroded Urbanism forms a city without streets, where every address has the benefit of an urban square. Thin floor plates (16m) maintain daylighting and cross ventilation, while the terraced, eroded form of the architecture will encourage air circulation by breaking the uniformity of the boundary layer. The variation in height of the massing will generate up and down drafts to ventilate the public spaces, while using the squares to maintain the highest comfort level for the respective microclimates.
This continuous fabric can be deployed in a variety of scales to create organizations ranging from blocks to districts. The 16m floor depth will guarantee both natural ventilation, daylight and the viability of occupation, both for commercial or residential uses. This structure is comprehensive of a variety of architectural typologies, including the courtyard block, the slab and the cruciform tower, the “T” and “L” towers… The continuous monolithism of Shenzhen Bay Mega-city enables a continuous variation of uses across the city. Programs can always spill over throughout the city to accommodate any scale or type of program.
A CITY OF SQUARES Shenzhen Bay Eroded Urbanism is based on the tuning of a fundamental unit of urbanity structured around void rather than solid. The fabric is constructed from an ideal sequence of urban rooms based in well tested examples like the Place de Vosgues in Paris, the Plaza Mayor in Madrid, the Piazza San Marco in Venice, Bedford Square in London, and the Old Town Square in Prague.
The minimum void scale in Shenzhen Bay will be a 64x64m square, which can grow to double scale. The maximum depth of the block will be 16m, in order to ensure natural ventilation and daylight everywhere in the city, regardless of whether the land use is commercial or residential. Unlike the European Squares that serve as a model of urbanity, the Shenzhen variation will constantly present a wide variety of heights.

GLOBAL GREEN Shenzhen Bay Mega-city will constantly dialogue, both on an ecological and an aesthetic level, with the natural environment. It will engage with natural cycles on its multiple organizational levels: hydrological cycle, urban microclimate, urban transportation, refuse treatment... By making extensive use of vegetation, both on horizontal and vertical surfaces, we will turn the ground and the roofs as water-retaining devices which will contribute to reduce heat island effects by absorbing solar radiation and producing adiabatic evaporation. Vertical walls will be surrendered to creepers and planters, which will create even more CO2 absorption, but also water collection. Trees will be planted selectively, using models of airflow in order to control undesirable downdrafts and reduce wind speeds. They will also provide a green canopy to protect pedestrians from direct solar radiation. But perhaps the most important function of the green will be aesthetic: it will express the notion of the future city being integrated with nature. The city will never be completely rid of it: our play with abundant and contingent vegetation seeks a lineage to the picturesque, which will convey this continuity between the urban and the natural.

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