3/01/2011

Golden Dream Bay: for a new housing block typology by Safdie Architects

After the TATA Tower for Mumbay, the Grenelle Tower for Paris, the Golden Dream for the city of Qinhuangdao, Hebei province of China. Frankly speaking, Moshe Safdie's housing block is an illustration of Chinese search for housing solutions to house its urban population growth. China is much closer to Mumbai than our latest post on Grenelle Tower which deals issues of housing in France — an issue which beside the question of high-rise (housing) building in Paris, gives rise to discussions, surveys insofar as France lacks of housing, specifically social housing. China's public policies aim at developing a harmonious and attractive society. Chinese cities continue to absorb rural migrants and turn them into urban citizens. Yet as urban population ratio increased, living conditions in cities begin to be more outstanding. Chinese cities are what I call, borrowing David Harvey's notion, "entrepreneurial cities" (see his text entitled Flexible Accumulation through Urbanization Reflections on "Post-Modernism" in the American City"). "Entrepreneurial city" means increased inter-urban competition across number of dimensions. David Harvey has defined four different forms of competition that I quote:

  1. competition for position in the international division of labour;
  2. competition for position as centers of consumption;
  3. competition for control and command functions (financial and administrative powers in particular); and
  4. competition for governmental redistribution.
Of course the list is not closed, consequently we can add a fifth form: competition for a better housing spatial which goal is to house the most population within urban space. In a previous post, I quoted an article discussing Chinese "ambition" for a meta-city regrouping Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Dongguan and six smaller cities, and I mentioned that China's goal is to turn into a meta-city instead of country demonstrating the increasing influence of the city on country. An increasing number of researchers state that next economy will be metropolitan (and no more national, if I follow certain economists). To a certain extent, I might say that Architect Moshe Safdie's project Golden Dream Bay inscribes into this logic.
Golden Dream Bay © Moshe Safdie Architects

Different parameters seem to have influenced Moshe Safdie's design proposals. One of the most important points is the transformation of Chinese urban centers. Recent chinese cities see their spaces — center and peripheries —  to be filled of high-rise buildings creating a spatial organisation made out of compact blocks which tend to absorb small scaled buildings — Hutong (housings), shops, ateliers, and so forth. The second element concern rapid population growth. About half of Chinese cities' population live in an area smaller than cities' total land surface. Qinhuangdao's density is 359.1/sq km (930.1/sq mi) for an urban population of 1,177,300. The Prefecture-level city's area is 7,812.4 square kilometers (for a prefecture-level city population of 2,805,400). The prefecture is divided into three districts: Haigang District with a population of 550,000, and an urban density of 4,545/sq km; Shanhaiguan District with a population of 140,000, and an urban density of 729/sq km; Beidaihe Dsitrict with a population of 70,000, an urban density of 1,000/sq km. It also contains four counties: Changli County with a population of 550,000, density of 465/sq km; Funing County which population has a total of 520,000, and a density of 316/sq km; Lulong County with a population of 420,000, a density of 444, Qinglong Manchu Autonomous County which population has a total of 520,000, and a density of 157/sq km. The last important issue is the population components, specifically the household which size — like most cities — has been decreasing over time meanwhile small households are increasing to reach a considerable proportion of the population.
Qinhuangdao has important ambitions and compete with other Chinese cities to attract population as well as tourists and offices in substance. It needs new master plan to house the new citizens and make them live and work comfortably.
© Moshe Safdie Architects

I cannot assert that these factors have played a role in Moshe Safdie's design but his proposal for a deconstruction of the residential skyscraper tends to confirm these points mentioned. He also reforms the layout into four repeating geometric vertical structures that are linked by skywalks like a chain. This strategy maximizes personal space. As many of the apartments open up into roof decks, they will be offering beautiful views of the surrounding beach setting.
The key element to this project is to "create a garden environment combining numerous private and public gardens in the sky".
The housing block contains public garden and pool areas which are located atop the parking deck, 15th and 30th floors.
© Moshe Safdie Architects

A north/south running boardwalk and an east/west bazaar-like spine will be integrated. Their function is to link the community with the surrounding urban layout and beach front.
© Moshe Safdie Architects
© Moshe Safdie Architects

Overall, Moshe Safdie is an interesting project, we may say, for a new housing block typology responding to metropolitan spatial mutation.
The Golden Dream Bay is due to be completed in 2014.

Who is he?
Moshe Safdie is an architect, urban planner, educator, theorist, and author. Embracing a comprehensive and human design philosophy, Safdie is committed to architecture that supports and enhances a project's program; that is informed by the geographic, social, and cultural elements that define a place; and that responds to human needs and aspirations. Safdie has completed a wide range of projects, such as cultural, educational, and civic institutions; neighborhoods and public parks; mixed-use urban centers and airports; and master plans for existing communities and entirely new cities around the world. Major projects by Safdie Architects currently under construction or recently completed include Mamilla Alrov Center, a dynamic urban centre near the Old City in Jerusalem; Marina Bay ands, a mixed-use integrated resort in Singapore; Khalsa Heritage Memorial Complex, the national museum of the Sikh people in the Punjab, India; The United States institute of Peace Headquarters on the Mall in Washington, D.C.; the National Campus for the Archeology of Israel in Jerusalem; the West Edge project, a mixed-use facility in Kansas City, Missouri; the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Missouri; and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville Arkansas.

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