Client: Ningbo Municipal Construction Office
Status: Competition (2014)
Location: Ningbo, China
Climate: Humid subtropical, Temperate
Environments: Riverside, Urban
Types: Masterplan, Public space
Cities in Asia, and particularly in China, are undergoing some of the world’s most radical urban transformations. While they attempt to modernize, their urban fabric often disperses to the city’s suburbs, and thus the historic city often loses its original character. Our proposal for Zhongshan Road seeks instead to amplify Ningbo’s rich identity through a series of interventions in landscape, infrastructure, preservation and architecture. Ten kilometers of Zhongshan Road -historically Ningbo’s cultural, commercial, and political spine- is designed to foster and exhibit the city’s past, while at the same time allowing for its rapid growth.
Ningbo is a layered city: as one of China’s oldest cities (4800 BC), it has a rich cultural heritage, boasts one of the world’s largest shipping-ports, excels in many types of industrial production, and within the last decade has become «home» to over two million new Chinese migrants. In the period of the great leap forward, many important economic and industrial activities (paradoxically) moved out of the city center, creating a patchwork of entirely new urban developments on the periphery, while depriving the city’s historic nexus of its activities and character. However, with the new construction of Metro Line 1 along Zhongshan Road, Ningbo has the opportunity to re-instate the historic axis and re-create the center as a place where the city’s identity flourishes.
Our proposal for the development of Zhongshan Road harnesses the city’s planned metro lines to reinforce Ningbo’s multiple identities, both existing and new. Eight zones along Zhongshan Road, denoted by metro stations, each have their own character – Parks, Education, Culture, Entertainment, Business, Landscape, Industry and Ecological Living – thereby creating a «necklace» of program which activates the city center. Their radius of influence (or the «ripple effect» from the stations) is determined by a comfortable walking distance of 600m. We propose a feasible infrastructure system, which allocates certain pedestrian-only stretches, and a downgrade of vehicular traffic in others, in order to restore pedestrian life while maintaining car mobility. With varying identities, the zones become residences for some, destinations for others, and in the end, Zhongshan Road reinforces the historical and cultural authenticity for which Ningbo should be known.