Beijing 2009 - SOHO Jian Wai
The architect is Riken Yamamoto, famous for his minimalist-modernist designs. In his design statement he mentioned that he was inspired by Moroccan cities, where the narrow alleyways and tight urban places - and the indiscriminate mixing of everything together made him feel the life and pulse of the city. He was trying to recreate that feeling at SOHO Jian Wai.
Looking at the actual project, it reminded me more of the Villa Radius conceptual city by Le Corbusier. Essentially towers placed in open spaces to alleviate the high density required of a modern city and still provide sufficient open space and sunlight for everyone. The visionary proposal by Le Corb has influenced urban design for decades. It has also been discredited for creating anonymous and squalid public housing blocks, which later had to be demolished due to their dilapidated state.
SOHO Jian Wai is located at the 39 East Third Ring Road, in the Chaoyang District.
The towers are very minimalist in design. They look like New York office blocks. Car parks are provided in basement levels with atrium connection to the plazas.
Generous open spaces between the towers provide much needed relieve from the high density.
Shops are on the lower floors of the buildings, and there must be hundreds of them within the project.
I had always thought that Le Corb's idea was spot on, for it is impossible to keep on building low and spreading out further and further into the landscape. We are just competing with nature, farmlands and water sources. That is a nightmare scenario in China, and perhaps projects like this are and example of how to create high density livable spaces in the city.