Status: Project (1992)
Types: Masterplan, Public space
The study for the development of a major business district in Shanghai in the Lu Jia Zui district in Pudong is one of the great urbanistic reflections of our times. Our approach draws on the lessons of history, without excluding all the positive factors concerning the building of cities, whether they are ancient, modern or contemporary. At the outset, it is necessary to perform a historic reading of the city’s layout.
This shows that Shanghai is defined by routes running from North to South and from East to West, forming a relatively orthogonal fabric. This factor determines the general orientation of the networks of the new district so that it can be naturally linked to the existing city, and furthermore, to a comparison with other cities which provide elements of reference in order to assess the scope and needs of the project. The historical and functional analysis of the city cannot give account of the symbolical dimension of the “founding event” which must inscribe the new district within the landscape of the city. This “founding event” ‘must mark the development of the historic city center, of crossing over to the other bank which holds a new identity for the “heart of Shanghai” by establishing another relationship between Town and Nature. Opposite the river Bund, following its meander, we propose a broken line set at right angle, facing from north to south and from east to west.
This solitary and unique form is in counterpoint to the architecture on the other bank, like the yin and yang. It provides a great park at the water’s edge, and its rosary of high-rises acts as a support for the development of Shanghai towards the east. Just like a furrow in a field, this set square traces the plan of the new town. There will be room for two million square metres of offices, areas of activity or commerce and, beneath them; there will be a road network for cars, car parks and two additional tunnels joining both banks.
The whole project is designed in terms of duration, of time passing, of the slow creation of our cities’ landscape. This research could be called “Towards a living urbanism,” more interested in the void, in the in-between rather than on things themselves. We must protect the void, it is the city’s most treasured possession, It enables the creation of places, it ensures the future of our cities, it guarantees the presence of nature. The void is immaterial, it is nothing, yet it constitutes “the foundation of our towns.”
All our relationships, our glances and our hopes, are established through the void.