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Issue 01: Interview



Linxue Li | Architect’s responsibility fighting for public space


 

对话李麟学 | 为城市公共空间而战


Keywords: publicness, quality, culture, void, fighting



Prof. Dr. Linxue Li is Professor & Ph. D Supervisor at College of Architecture and Urban Planning of Tongji University and Principal Architect of Atelier L+. He is also the Director of CETA (Center for Energy & Thermodynamic Architecture) & SOCIOECO LAB, chairman of special column in T+A, international editor of urbanNEXT. In 2014, he was a Visiting Scholar at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, and in 2020, the Graham Wills Visiting Professor of School of Architecture at University of Sheffield. In 2000, he was selected by the Presidential Program “50 ARCHITECTES EN FRANCE” and studied in Ecole d'Architecture de Paris-Belleville.

Linxue Li establishes his teaching, research, practice and international exchange on the basis of a defining theoretical discourse and with an aim to integrate knowledge production and architectural pradtice. His main fields of research include thermodynamic ecological architecture, public architectural conglomerates, and is at the frontier for contemporary architectural practice. His main concentration of teaching is created through studying thermodynamic ecological system, exploring new paradigms of interaction between energy and architectural noumenon.





I. Publicness


ChinaGSD: The Hangzhou Civic Center took about fifteen years from design to completion, and it was completed between the transformation of Qianjiang New City from an open area to a fully functional, high-density urban built-up area during rapid urbanization. During this period, the Hangzhou Civic Center contributes to both the Qianjiang New Town area and the urban public space of Hangzhou as a dynamic changing process. Based on the perspective of "publicity", what do you think is the most significant contribution of the project, and how has it undergone changes in the history?

杭州市民中心从设计到建成目时间跨度大约十五年,也刚好见证了钱江新城从快速城市化时的空旷地带向功能完备的高密度城市建成区的转变。在这个过程中,杭州市民中心之于钱江新城区域乃至整个杭州的城市公共空间的意义和贡献,也是一个持续的动态变化过程。基于“公共性”的视角,您觉得项目最突出的意义和贡献是什么,在整时间史跨度中又经历了怎样的变化?


Li: From the perspective of participation in urban evolution and social economy, I think the Hangzhou Civic Center represents a typical model of new city development in China in the past 20 years. In this period, cities have entered a very groundbreaking stage of growth. On the one hand, the speed and scale of growth is beyond our usual understanding under rapid development; on the other hand, it has intensified a trend for the development model of mega-structures. The architecture itself has played a very important role in the evolution of the new city especially in how to shape and guide urban public spaces. For example, the function and location of the Hangzhou Civic Center determines it as a unique landmark. In other words, it is difficult for this building not to become a landmark because it is located in the core of the city or new town. The Hangzhou Civic Center becomes the focal point of this space naturally.

从城市演变与社会经济的参与层面来看,我觉得杭州市民中心代表了中国近20年左右,新城建设的一种典型发展状况。因为过去大概20年左右的时间,在这个时间段里,中国城市进入了一个非常具有开拓性的成长阶段。它的成长速度、规模和尺度都超出我们通常的认知,是一个超速发展的阶段。另外,建筑也往往呈现出巨构式的发展模式,建筑本身在新城的演变中起了一个非常重要的角色,尤其在城市公共空间的塑造和引导方面。比如像杭州市民中心,建筑本身的功能与区位决定了它的独特地标性,或者说建筑不成为地标是很难的,因为它在城市或新城最核心的地段,它自然会成为一个空间的焦点。



The Hangzhou Civic Center (©  Atelier L+)

Early stage construction of Hangzhou Qianjiang New City in 2003 (courtesy of Qianjiang New City)

In such a building, there are bound to be some memorial, symbolic, or iconic elements. During the design phase of the Hangzhou Civic Center, we proposed a concept called “weakened memoriality”. The focus is on how to achieve its iconicity through the introduction of public space or the expansion of a new urban space to ensure the building is not only concerned with the form itself, characterized by objects.


在这样一个建筑里面,必然会具有一些纪念性的、象征性的,或者城市标志性的要素。但在设计杭州市民中心的时候,我们就提出来一个叫“弱化的纪念性”概念,其中非常重要的就是怎么来通过公共空间的引入,或者通过对一种新型城市空间的拓展来实现标志性的诉求,而不仅仅关注建筑以物为特征的形态本身。

The building is spread out on a 400-meter square site, which is a huge structure for the entire city. It is determined that it will inevitably represent a strong spatial role in the city. We need to make a lot of judgments and even dynamic responses from a more systematic urban perspective. For example, the Hangzhou Civic Center was planned to occupy 450,000 square meters initially during the international bidding in 2002. As the design was pushed on, it was expanded and approached 600,000 square meters as construction area gradually. If you compare this building with Metabolism, the scale is equivalent to a small urban system. The Hangzhou Civic Center is responsible for how to construct or guide the development of a new urban system. During the bidding phase, I defined it as a mega-structure. I think it will have a decisive impact on the future of this city especially the production of urban public space.

建筑在400米见方的场地上展开,对于整个城市是一个巨构,所以就决定了它在城市的整个系统里必然起到非常强的空间导向作用。我们需要从一个更系统的城市视角去做出很多判断,甚至是动态的应对。比如在2002年国际竞标的时候,杭州市民中心大概是45万平方米左右的面积,随着设计推进它慢慢的不断扩展,最后接近了60万平方米的建筑面积。如果比较这个建筑和新陈代谢派的一些设想,它的尺度决定了其本身就相当于一个小的城市系统,担负着如何构建或引导一个新的城市系统诞生的责任。当时市民中心在竞标的时候,我将其定义为一个巨型的建构,我觉得它很大程度上会对这个新城的未来,尤其是城市公共空间生产产生决定性的影响。




“During the design phase of the Hangzhou Civic Center, we proposed a concept called ‘weakened memoriality’. The focus is on how to achieve its iconicity through the introduction of public space and the expansion of a new urban space. The appeal of the building is not only concerned with the form itself characterized by objects.”


The international bidding is an interesting story. Before the start of the international bidding for the Civic Center, OBERMEYER from Germany made a conceptual urban design. They proposed two high-rise buildings these are more than 300 meters located in the middle of the site as a center of the city to form an administrative complex. The task book only stipulated the area of the building, but there was no restriction on the height of the building during the international bidding phase. Therefore, it can be said that the judges and the government gave the discretion of the building to the architect entirely. They wanted to see the various responses and possibilities. It is understandable when the new city was uncultivated land at the time.

国际方案竞标是一个比较有趣的波折故事。早在市民中心国际竞标启动之前,来自德国的OBERMEYER事务所做了一个概念性的城市设计,希望在场地中间有两栋300多米的超高层作为城市的一个中心,来形成一个行政综合体。到市民中心国际竞标的时候,任务书只规定了建筑的面积,但没有任何建筑高度的限制,所以可以说评委与作为业主的政府,他把新城最核心建筑的裁量权交到了建筑师的手中,看你会给出一个什么样的答案,在当时新城还是一片田野的情况下,这是可以理解的。


There were about 70 proposals on the final bidding phase. The building heights were ranging from 200 meters to 300 meters, or even 400 meters; and the architectural forms ranged from single tower all the way to five towers. Our team proposed a “cluster-style” building that suggested the building should not exceed 100 meters. Since our strategy was to form a cluster of scattered volumes, it would dissolve the huge building into multiple blocks. More importantly, the cluster would forms an open public space as a "city heart" characterized by forests in the middle of the site. We hope that this space can be accessible and utilized by citizens rather than a monumental or iconic building with boundaries.

  从最后的竞标方案来说,大概有近70个方案,建筑高度有200米到300米的,甚至400米的;建筑形态有单塔、双塔、三塔,甚至四塔五塔。但我们团队构想了一个“群簇式”建筑,希望建筑不超过100米,分散的体量形成一个群体簇集的策略,从而把巨大的建筑面积化解到一个街区式的建筑里来。更重要的是群簇的建筑形成了一个中间开放的公共空间,一个以森林为特征的“城市之心”,我们希望这个空间开放给城市的市民使用,公众可以进入,而不是一个仅仅关注建筑的纪念性或标志性的封闭建筑体系。



Design Development of Hangzhou Civic Center (©  Atelier L+)

Panorama of Hangzhou as “lake-city” (courtesy of Atelier L+)

We proposed a concept called "iconic void". Hangzhou is very unique among Chinese cities. Its old city is centered on West Lake that is the world’s natural and cultural heritage. The city is understood commonly in Chinese as "the combination of lakes and cities". Half of it is a city; half of it is the surrounding mountains; and the middle is the West Lake. Additionally, it is also an open "void" and a public space accessible to all. It was hoped that the building could have a homogeneous urban relationship with West Lake in terms of the macro structure.

我们当时提了一个概念叫“空的标志性”(Iconic void),算是一个纪念性的虚空。因为杭州我觉得在中国城市里面是非常独特的,它的老城是一个西湖为中心的城市,西湖又是世界自然和文化双遗产,也就是我们常提的“湖城合璧”,一半是城市,一半是周围的远山,中间是西湖。所以我们谈到杭州的时候,会对西湖有一个非常深刻的文化或空间的意象。另外,西湖也是完全开放式的一个“虚空”,是公众都可以进入的一个公共空间。所以当时就希望在宏观构成上建筑能和西湖有一种同构的城市关系。

Therefore, the building complex was planned to be 100 meters high and connected in the air initially. In the middle of the building, an urban garden and a city forest is proposed in the original sketch. A cluster of open buildings can transition the surrounding public space, and super high-rise buildings of 300 meters or higher can be built in the CBD of the new city. This was a very important concept in the brainstorming process. This image has been well realized now, and there are many high-rise buildings of 350-400 meters that has been completed around this civic center.

所以在当时最早构想的竞标方案里,建筑群是100米高,在空中连成一体。在建筑的中间,形成一个巨大的城市花园,或者说是城市中充满树木的森林,这也是最早的草图勾画的愿景。这样在未来新城的CBD里面,一个群簇式开放式的建筑,可以把周围未来的公共空间贯穿起来,周边可以建设300米甚至更高的超高层。这是当时设计思考里边非常重要的一个概念,现在得到了很好的实现,市民中心周边已经完成了多幢350-400米超高层的建设。




Li’s conceptual sketches for the roof garden and “cluster” at Hangzhou Civic Center (©  Atelier L+)
The final bidding scheme consisted of the jury choosing from two schemes. One is the 400-meter-tall high-rise twin towers, and the other is the clustered open public space that we proposed. The judges had a controversial debate between these two schemes. The local government believed this area is far away from the West Lake, and the height of building can grow higher rather than lower. One of the most important responsibilities of the architect is to tell the owner why the concept of an open garden in a city is better in this process. Of course, this stage can be very difficult.

最后的竞标方案在两个重要的方案里面选择,一个是近400米的超高层双塔方案,另外一个是我们提出的群簇式开放式公共空间的概念。当时所有人在这两个方案之间形成一个非常激烈的争论,因为对当地政府来讲,这个区域已经远离了西湖,规划上高度可以做得更高,面对一个可以建设更高建筑的机会,为什么不做呢?所以建筑师在这个过程中非常重要的一个职责,就是要讲给业主听,为什么一个城市开放花园的概念是更好的,当然这个过程是比较难的。

After a half year of communication and constant debate, our plan was finally chosen. The decision makers not only made a choice on building itself, but a decision on the space and formation of the city. If we look back after nearly 20 years of construction, the core area of Qianjiang New City has been completed. The spatial system and urban outline of this area have all been clearly realized. Through these retrospectives, we can see that the architectural and urban decisions were represented with their inherent logic.

经过半年左右的持续交流和不断的争论,最后确认了我们的方案。当时的决策者不单是对一个建筑做出了选择,而是对一个城市的空间与形态进行了决策。今天如果我们再去看,经过近20年的建设,钱江新城整个核心区已经全部建设完成了,当初设想的整个区域的空间系统和城市轮廓线,已全部清晰的展现出来了。通过这些回溯,我们可以看到当时的建筑决策,或者城市决策,是有它们的内在逻辑的。

“The cluster forms an open public space as a ‘city heart’ characterized by forests in the middle of the site. We hope that this space can be accessible and utilized by citizens rather than a monumental or iconic building with boundaries.”


ChinaGSD: After the Hangzhou Civic Center is completed and put into use, from the perspective of civil participation and experience, what are the unique aspects or qualities of the public space it provides?

杭州市民中心建成投入使用之后,从公民参与和体验的角度看,其所提供的公共空间的独特性体现在哪些方面,或者说具备何种独特的品质?

Li: This question can also be understood as how the building serves the public. The building changed from a single municipal function system at the beginning to a multi-functional civic center. When it was finally used, it was a merge between the two. I think this reflects a “gaming mindset” phenomenon in the development of urban public space in China.

这个问题也可以理解为建筑怎么来为公众服务。建筑从起初单一的市政功能系统,最后变成一个复合功能的市民中心,最后使用的时候,又是一个介于这两者之间的概念。我觉得这反映了中国城市公共空间发展中的一个博弈现象。

From the perspective of architects, it is hoped that more space in the civic center building group can be opened for public use. This is a process or mindset of gaming: debate and compromise in all aspects. In the middle of the building, six 115-meter high-rise towers form the core area office. The towers surround the conference center occupying the middle. After the implementation of the conference center, the final ground floor open garden was unfortunately not realized, but the building retained a very pleasant roof garden with a diameter of 100 meters. The four L-shaped masses around the bottom of the building carry civic service facilities, which are connected in series by a public corridor of one kilometer underground, and all four parts of the facilities are open to the public.

从建筑师的角度,希望市民中心建筑群体更多的空间可以打开给公众使用,这是一个各个方面博弈、争论与妥协的过程。建筑中间以6栋115米的高层塔楼形成核心区域办公室,塔楼环绕的是占据中央的会议中心。会议中心在实施后,最后的地面层开放花园遗憾没有实现,但建筑保留了一个非常宜人的百米直径的屋顶花园。建筑底部周边的4个L型体量承载了市民服务设施,在地下有一公里的公共回廊将它们串接起来,4个部分的设施全部对市民开放。



Entrance to underground transportation at Hangzhou Civic Center (©  Atelier L+)
In fact, there was no complete task book at the beginning of architectural design. In the whole process, architects and decision makers had discussed again and again to make the building become more urban and public. This is a particularly interesting aspect of architecture in its evolution. One of the podium corners is the Hangzhou Library; the second corner is the Hangzhou Youth Activity Center; the thrid corner is the External Affairs Center and the Citizen Service Center that can provide services for all citizens from birth certificates to real estate transaction; the last corner is an urban planning exhibition hall and a service facility open to citizens.

实际上在建筑设计之初是没有一个完善任务书的,整个过程中,无论是从建筑师到业主的决策者,一直在不断的讨论和博弈,建筑也变得越来越有城市性和公众性。这是建筑在演变过程中特别有意思的一个方面。建筑裙房体量的其中一个角作为杭州图书馆;另一个角为杭州青少年活动中心;还有一个角为对外集中办事中心与市民服务中心,可以为所有市民提供服务,办理从出生证明到房产交易等等;最后一块是作为城市规划展示厅,也是对市民开放的服务设施。

On the basement level, the subway penetrates through these elements. The idea of introducing the subway system into the underground space and realizing it through the public corridor under the building originated from the schematic design stage. This is also an expectation for the future use of public space. In the early 2000s, China's high-speed rail had not been developed yet. The proposal that entering the building from Tongji University without an umbrella on rainy days was thought of as a fantasy by the public. But this has been realized today. We can take Shanghai Metro Line 10 from Tongji University to Hongqiao High-speed Railway, and from Hongqiao High-speed Railway we can take the intercity high-speed rail to Hangzhou East Station in about 50 minutes. It also connects to Hangzhou Metro Line 4, and passengers would be able to enter the corridor of the Civic Center building. Therefore, in terms of the evolution of the civic center function system and space system, it is necessary for architects to make very thorough predictions, have forward-looking thinking, and designing a systematic structure based on the actual use of the city in the next 15 to 20 years. The logic is related tightly to how the public participates in architecture.

在地下一层,地铁将它们整个贯穿起来。这源自概念阶段的设想,把地铁系统引入到地下空间,并通过建筑地下的公共回廊实现。这个也是对整个建筑未来公共空间的一种系统化预期。在2000年初期,中国的高铁还没有发展起来,当时我们提出来,以后从同济大学出发,在雨天能不能不打伞的就进入到建筑,当时大家觉得还是个天方夜谭。 但这个设想今天实际上已经实现了。从同济大学我们乘坐上海10号线地铁可以到虹桥高铁,从虹桥高铁可以乘城际高铁在50分钟左右的时间里到达杭州东站,然后再接驳杭州地铁4号线,最终它的出站通道就在市民中心建筑的回廊里。因此,从市民中心功能系统和空间系统的演变来讲,需要建筑师对城市未来15到20年后的实际使用,做出一个非常强的预判、一个前瞻性的思考和一个系统性的架构。这个思考的出发点,我觉得自始至终是跟公众怎么参与到建筑中来是息息相关的。


“The building changed from a single municipal function system at the beginning to a multi-functional civic center. When it was finally used, it was a concept between the two. I think this reflects a “gaming mindset” phenomenon in the development of urban public space in China. ”



II. Culture of the City


ChinaGSD: How does the design of Hangzhou Civic Center interpret the city culture? As an eye-catching landmark building, after its completion, how can it in turn influence Hangzhou's urban culture?

杭州市民中心的设计是如何诠释所在城市文化的?作为一个瞩目的地标建筑,其建成之后,自身如何反过来对杭州城市文化作出影响?


Li: The architecture itself has an corresponding relationship with Hangzhou's urban space prototype, which is an architectural space organization prototype with a void as the carrier. From the perspective of urban culture, I hope to express urban culture in an abstract way, rather than one-to-one operation. This is a very important part of architecture from beginning to end.

建筑本身跟杭州的城市空间原型是一个同构的关系,是一个以虚空为载体的建筑空间组织原型。从城市文化的角度,我希望以一种抽象性的,而不是完全一对一的操作来表达城市的文化。这是建筑自始至终非常重要的一部分。

Of course, as far as architecture itself is concerned, I think the long history of Hangzhou gives people a humanistic reference from beginning to end. Sudi and Baidi in Hangzhou were built by Su Dongpo and Bai Juyi, both important literary masters and officials in Chinese history. They have brought a lot of changes to the city, among which the inheritance of an interest in the humanities is particularly important. Therefore, I remember that after the library was built, there was a story of a viral celebrity figure that attracted everyone's attention. A beggar has been reading in the library. At first, everyone didn't pay much attention to him. At that time, the curator put forward that as long everyone washes their hands clean, no matter what your status is, we welcome you! Later, it was found out that he was a college graduate whose life was changed for the worse. It was also revealed that the beggar also supported many poor children with his garbage collection income, so I think this just reflects the unique spirit of Hangzhou. This is a kind of inclusiveness coupled with a genuine curiosity to understand the world, which is precisely the most essential spirit in urban public space. Therefore, in the building, we pay a lot of attention to these aspects in every detail.

当然对建筑本体来说,我觉得杭州这座城市的悠久历史,给人一个自始至终的人文参照。杭州的苏堤白堤,是苏东坡、白居易主政修建,都是中国历史上重要的文学大家和官员。他们给城市带来了非常多的变化,其中一种人文系统的传承是特别重要的。所以我记得图书馆建成了以后,有一个引起大家关注的一个网红人物的故事。一个乞丐一直在图书馆里看书,一开始大家不太关注他,当时馆长就提出来,只要你把手洗干净,不管你是什么身份,我们都欢迎!后来发现他是一个生活遭遇变故的大学毕业生,这个乞丐靠他的捡垃圾收入还资助了很多贫困儿童,所以我觉得这恰恰反映了杭州这座城市的独特精神气质。这是一种包容性,一种人文关怀,这恰恰是城市公共空间中最本质的精神。所以在建筑里边,我们在每个细节里对这些方面都给予很多的关注。



Daily scene at Hangzhou Civic Center (©  Atelier L+)

The civic center building itself is located in the center of the city and has an open attitude, which also leaves a connection to future space development of surrounding buildings. For example, in the underground space of the building, we proposed at that time that the building should be connected with all the surrounding buildings with reserved passages, and connected with the whole building until the underpass along the Qiantang River. This initial idea of connecting the maximization of public space also makes the commercial development in the surrounding areas follow this idea, thus achieving the balance between commercial interests and urban public interests, which is very important.

市民中心建筑本身位于城市中心并具有开放性的姿态,也给周围建筑的未来空间发展留有衔接。比如在建筑的地下空间,我们当时提出来建筑要跟周围所有建筑都预留通道进行连接,跟整个建筑一直到钱塘江边的地下城市公共步道连接起来。这一最初将公共空间最大化连接起来的设想,也使得后来周边的商业性开发遵从了这一理念,从而做到商业利益跟城市公众利益之间的平衡,这是非常重要的。

III. Void and Megastructure


ChinaGSD: From the form of citizen center, the building is a "void" in a city surrounded by six towers, especially around 2000. Such a building with the administrative center as its main program leaves a huge space in the center, and it is a more innovative practice to create an ecological greening core for citizens. What is the original motive and significance of this strategy?

从市民中心的形态上来看,建筑是6个塔楼围成的一个城市中的“虚空”,尤其在2000年前后,这样一个以行政中心为主要用途的建筑在中心留出一片巨大的空间,为市民创造生态绿化核心是一个比较具有革新意义的做法。这一策略的的最初动机和意义什么?


Li: At that time, in 2001, I had just returned from studying in France and finished the project of "50 architects in France". My life and travel experience in Paris have deeply influenced me, and I also had a trip to Europe for about 3 months. Seeing the history of European architecture and art at that time was an exercise with both depth and intensity, and it was a great gain for me. The whole urban space evolution of Paris and the contemporary art practice industry there are particularly important. I have visited almost all the corners of the city in Paris. This experience is a very potent influence for me. 

那时候2001年,我刚刚从法国留学回来,结束了“50位建筑师在法国”的项目。在巴黎的生活和漫游深刻影响到我,对欧洲也有一个3个月左右的系统游历。当时看到欧洲的建筑和艺术的历史与断面,是一个兼具深度和强度的锻炼,对我来说收获是非常大的。巴黎的整个城市空间演变和当代艺术实践的断面是特别重要的。我在巴黎几乎都走遍了城市的众多角落,这个经历对我来说是一个非常潜在的影响,因为画了很多的草图,带来的尺度感的影响是潜移默化的。

Paris is not a big city in scale, but when you live in it, you will feel that the public space in the city is endless. From the Middle Ages to the Haussmann transformation of cities, until different stages of development in modern times, the experience and publicness running through them are very distinct. Therefore, my doctoral thesis at that time was on Paris urban reconstruction, and the potential impact on me was how to grasp the scale and spatial openness of a city.

巴黎从尺度层面不是一个很大的城市, 但当你生活在其中的时候,会觉得这个城市的公共空间是无穷无尽的。自中世纪到奥斯曼对城市的改造,一直到近代不同的发展阶段,贯穿其中的体验性和公共性非常鲜明。所以我当时的博士论文也是做了关于巴黎城市重构的研究,这个对我的潜在影响就是怎么去把握一个城市的尺度和空间的开放性。

Li’s sketches in 2001 while studying in Europe (©  Atelier L+)

Therefore, when I got this project with the characteristics of mega structure, I naturally took this experience in Europe as a reference. At that time, a very strong idea was to explore how the scale of a megastructure could be better associated with the scale of people and the scale of the public. Therefore, we have compared the treatment of giant buildings or scales in many historical cases. The Pyramids is a giant structure and an object; the theater in Rome is also a huge structure and a void. Similarly, from Corbusier to Metabolism, they also put forward a lot of proposals for mega structure. But what is missing may be the connection between the mega structure and the public, especially with human experience. Therefore, I wonder if we can do this kind of work to reconstruct this connection, which is a very strong perspective and the root of the concept of architecture.

所以拿到这个具有巨构特征的建筑项目时,我就自然而然的把欧洲的这种体验当做一种参照(reference)。当时非常强烈的一个想法就是要去探讨一个巨构性的建筑尺度怎么更好的与人的尺度、与公众的尺度相关联。所以我们比较了诸多历史案例中对巨构建筑或巨构尺度的处理,金字塔是一种巨构,但它同时也是一个实物(object);罗马的剧场也一个巨构,但是它却是一个虚空。同样的,从柯布西耶到新陈代谢派,他们也提出了非常多的巨构建筑提案。但其中缺失的可能就是巨构形式跟公众之间,尤其是人的体验之间的一种关联。所以我想是不是可以做这样的工作,去建构这种关联,这是一个很强烈的视角,也是建筑概念产生的根源。


“At that time, a very strong idea was to explore how the scale of a megastructure could be better associated with the scale of people and the scale of the public. ”



ChinaGSD: From the scale of Hangzhou Citizen Center, it is a great challenge for architects to realize the urban public space with a similar scale. What are the obstacles and difficulties encountered in the implementation of ideas during project design and construction? How do you overcome them? 

从杭州市民中心的尺度来看,实现类似巨构尺度的城市公共空间,对建筑师是一个巨大的挑战。在项目设计施工过程中对想法进行的落实,遇到的阻力和困难是什么?最后又是如何克服的并将其最终实现?


Li: The building process is full of twists and turns, and this tortuous process is really a great challenge for architects. The challenge is not only about your professional knowledge, but also your body and mind. I was only 32 years old when I won the bid in 2002. When I was coordinating this project, the client felt that the architect was so young that he developed a skeptical and distrustful attitude. In one stage, there was too invested in the project, which led to serious illness. It also made me feel that the achievement of projects and ideas is really a game playing with strength and the understanding the existing system at all levels. How to best coordinate urban public interest or public space and its future experience in the concept of architects is particularly important and heavily tested.

实际上这个建筑也是一波三折,这个曲折的过程对建筑师来说,确实是一个非常大的挑战。挑战的不光是你的专业知识,还有你的身体和心智。当时获得竞标的时候在应该是2002年,我只有32岁,在统筹这个项目的时候,业主看建筑师这么年轻,会有一种怀疑和不信任的态度在里面。这个过程中有一阶段的投入过多,我由此也生了一场大病,也使得我觉得项目与理念的达成,确实是各个层面的力量和系统的博弈。从中如何最大程度的把控建筑师概念里的城市公共利益或公共空间及其未来体验,是特别重要的,也是特别受考验的。

On the other hand, the challenge comes from architecture itself. As an urban engine, the civic center is in a very strong urban political background, which is actually a kind of logic that could be mined for its potential. Especially for such a huge building, its political influence is pretty significant. I think this requires architects to make a more strategic response. For example, the building has gradually changed from a simple municipal center as it originally designed to a complex functional system, an urban living room open to the public.

另一方面的挑战来自建筑本体,市民中心作为一个城市引擎式的建筑,处在一个非常强的城市政治背景中,实际上是它的一种潜在逻辑。尤其像这样一个巨构建筑,它在政治性层面的影响是非常大的。我觉得这要求建筑师做出更有战略性的应对。比如建筑从最早设想的一个单纯市政中心,到最后慢慢变成了一个复合功能系统,一个对市民开放的城市客厅。




Hangzhou Civic Center under construction (©  Atelier L+)

Qianjiang New City and the completed Hangzhou Civic Center (©  Atelier L+)

From the perspective of the whole city operation, the owners have made many innovative ideas. For example, the original assets of the administration should be revitalized, the public programs scattered in every corner of the city should be co-ordinated, and the functions should be concentrated in the citizen center. Those replaced functions, those original plots, some are returned to cities, some are prepared for functional developments. From the perspective of the whole city, this idea has a very strong internal logic. Because of the government's intervention or guidance, the Qianjiang New City area got rid of the slow development in the past 10 years or so and was stimulated rapidly. Therefore, strategically, architecture plays the role of an engine.

从整个城市运维(operation)的角度来说,业主做了非常多创新的设想。比如把行政的原有资产做一些盘活,把分散在城市各个角落的建筑面积统筹出来,功能统一集中到市民中心这边来。那些置换出的功能,那些原来的地块,更多的还给城市,或做一些其它的功能性开发。这种理念从城市整体的角度来说,具有非常强烈的内在逻辑。因为政府的介入或引导,使得钱江新城区域摆脱之前近10年左右的缓慢发展而被迅速激发。所以从城市战略意义上来说,建筑起到了一个引擎的作用。



Hangzhou Civic Center and constructions in the neighboring area (©  Atelier L+)

Panoramic skybridge bridge in Hangzhou Civic Center (©  Atelier L+)

I think this strategic aspect may be unique in the development of new cities in China, an opportunity for architecture and urban public space as well as a challenge. In my opinion, the final achievement of the openness of building public space is also a difficult gaming process. For example, at the top of six high-rise buildings, at an altitude of 90 meters, a panoramic skybridge with a maximum span of about 72 meters runs through them. At that time, we assumed that this public space would be completely open to the public and could be reached by a special sightseeing elevator. We hoped that in the future, it would include an exhibition gallery or art gallery open to the public, or even a footpath for viewing the city and natural landscape, overlooking a public place of Qiantang River and West Lake.

我想类似这种战略性的一面,可能是中国新城发展里边非常独特的,是建筑与城市公共空间的机遇,更是挑战。建筑公共空间开放度的最终达成,我觉得也是一个艰难博弈的过程。比如在6栋高层的顶部,在90米的高空,最大跨度72米左右的公共连廊把它们贯穿在一起。当时我们设想这一公共空间是完全对市民开放的,并且有一个专用的观光电梯可以到达,希望将来包含对市民开放的一个展廊或艺术馆,甚至是一个观览城市与自然景观的步道,可以远眺钱塘江和西湖的一个公共场所。

In the end, this open space could not be realized, because of possible problems such as security and functional interference, but the key is that there is no agreement on the concept of space openness. As a huge building, the complexity of its internal system determines that its construction practice is indeed a process of constant gaming. In the whole process, some systems have been well preserved and fully realized, and some systems have left many regrets in the end, which is also a unique part of Chinese reality.

实际上,这个开放性空间最后没能实现,因为有安保、功能干扰等可能问题,但关键还是在空间的开放度理念方面没能达成一致。市民中心这样一个巨构式的建筑,它的内在系统的复杂性决定了其建造实践确实是一个不断博弈的过程。在整个过程中,有些系统非常好地保留了下来,并且充分实现,有些系统最后也留下了诸多遗憾,这也是属于中国现实的独特部分。


“As a huge building, the complexity of its internal system determines that its construction practice is indeed a process of constantly playing a game.”



Underpass in Hangzhou Civic Center and Qianjiang New City (©  Atelier L+)


Night at Hangzhou Civic Center and Qianjiang New City during G20 (©  Atelier L+)

The G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China was held in 2016, and the citizen center was put into use and played an important role. What we see today is a real urban complex and a public space practice in the form of urban cluster.

2016年中国杭州G20峰会举行,市民中心全部投入使用并发挥重要作用,今天看到的是一个真正的城市功能复合体,是一个城市集群的公共空间实践。

IV. Post-Pandemic


ChinaGSD: In the context of the current epidemic, high-density crowd gathering becomes difficult. If "dispersion" and "isolation" become the new normal of urban life in the future, do you think it is possible to transform the large-scale urban public spaces just like the Hangzhou Civic Center?

在当下疫情的大背景下,人群高密度的聚集变得困难。如果“分散”和“隔离”成为未来城市生活的新常态,针对类似杭州市民中心这种集中式大型城市公共空间的转型的可能性,您是否有新的思考?

Li: Regarding urban building density, I don't think it was an issue that was raised after the epidemic. In fact, this has always been a controversial topic in China's urban development. For example, Shanghai's urban center stipulated a floor area ratio ceiling of 2.5. From the perspective of the overall occupation of the city, everyone feels that such a floor area ratio is very low. In the new areas of Shanghai's urban renewal such as the North Bund or Yangpu Binjiang, the government is constantly adjusting the density and functional complexity of the city. Today we see that the given density may reach 3.5-4.0, that means its density control standard is being iterated.

关于城市建筑密度,我想不是今天在疫情之后才提出来的一个议题。实际上在中国的城市发展里边,这也是一直有争议性的一个话题。比如一段时间,上海的城市中心规定有2.5的容积率上限,今天从城市整体的运作来看,大家普遍觉得这样一个容积率反而是非常低了。现在在上海城市更新的新区域,比如说在北外滩或杨浦滨江等,政府都在不断的调整城市的密度和功能复合度。今天我们看到给出的密度,可能到3.5-4.0,也就是它的密度控制标准在往上提。

Hangzhou Civic Center at ducks (©  Atelier L+)
I think the challenges on density always exist for architects. The epidemic does not mean that the density of cities must be dispersed and isolated. The density of buildings in urban centers may not decrease, or even increase. I think this may be what makes China different from European and North American cities. Agglomeration is still the root of urban vitality.

密度问题带来的挑战,我觉得对建筑师来说是持续存在的。疫情并不意味着城市密度的必然分散与隔离,城市中心的建筑密度可能不会降低,甚至某种程度来说还有所提升。我觉得这可能是中国不同于欧洲与北美城市之处,集聚依然是城市活力的根本所在。

This brings a very important challenge to architects: how to ensure high quality design while maintaining high density or even ultra density in the core area of the city. The urban development strategies of New York and Singapore give a lot of inspiration to Shanghai, Hangzhou and Shenzhen. I think how to introduce and utilize more natural and functional elements in the high-density urban space to maintain a high-strength and high-quality health and publicness is a practical issue after the pandemic.

这里对建筑师自然带来一个非常重要的挑战:怎么在保持城市核心区域高密度甚至超高密度的情况下,来保证一种高品质,尤其是整体公共空间的高品质。如果我们看纽约,看新加坡,他们的城市发展策略,实际上给到不论上海也好、杭州与深圳也好非常多的启发。所以我觉得在疫情之后,怎么在城市高密度空间里边引入和利用更多的自然与功能要素,来维持一种高强度与高品质的健康性与公共性,是一个切实的议题。


“I think the challenges on density always exist for architects. [...] (The pandemic) brings a very important challenge to architects: how to ensure high quality design while maintaining high density or even ultra density in the core area of the city.”



Village in Mt. Tianmu where the interview was conducted (©  Atelier L+)

Professor INAKI ABLOS and I have been promoting some research on building thermodynamics and thermodynamic cities since 2014. Linhe Architecture Studio (ATELIER L+) and I have been doing research and construction practices in large-scale public buildings as well. In 2015, we aimed at the high-density area of Lujiazui, Shanghai, and made a series of research designs to deal with smog to discuss how to improve the air quality in the core area of the city. This issue will become more crucial after the pandemic. For Chinese cities, decentralization is not a good strategy because there is not enough land and space to accomodate decentralization in a large scale. Bringing innovation and vitality through the agglomeration of metropolises is still the direction that continues to strengthen. The mega urban public space such as the Hangzhou Civic Center will continue to be developed and tested. It is still a challenge on how to introduce more urban natural elements while maximizing the benefits of open space.

这里对建筑师自然带来一个非常重要的挑战:怎么在保持城市核心区域高密度甚至超高密度的情况下,来保证一种高品质,尤其是整体公共空间的高品质。如果我们看纽约,看新加坡,他们的城市发展策略,实际上给到不论上海也好、杭州与深圳也好非常多的启发。所以我觉得在疫情之后,怎么在城市高密度空间里边引入和利用更多的自然与功能要素,来维持一种高强度与高品质的健康性与公共性,是一个切实的议题。自2014年以来,我与阿巴罗斯教授(INAKI ABLOS)一直在推动建筑热力学和热力学城市的一些研究,主要也是关注这方面的一些问题,我与麟和建筑工作室(ATELIER L+)也一直在做大型公共建筑集群方面的研究与建造实践。在2015年的时候,我们针对上海陆家嘴的高密度区域,做了一系列应对雾霾的研究性设计,来探讨如何提高城市最核心区域的空气品质。疫情之后,这个问题将变得更为迫切。对中国城市来说,分散不是一个好的策略,因为没有那么多土地和空间,去做一个比较大的分散,通过大都市的集聚带来创新与活力,依然是一个在持续加强的方向。类似杭州市民中心的巨构型城市公共空间,还会持续发展和接受检验,如何引入更多的城市自然要素,同时最大化的创造一个开放的空间体系,依然是一个充满挑战的公共议题。

Finally, I am happy to share something about my location for this interview. This is a small village located on the halfway of Tianmu Mountain with ancient bridges constructed during the Song Dynasty. Nature, history and rural construction form the local culture. This is a great contrast compaired to the agglomeration of big cities such as Shanghai and Hangzhou. It is a remarkable picture depicting the tension between the public space in China's urban and rural areas.

最后,我也非常高兴来分享清晨接受采访的场所,这是一个保有宋代古桥的位于天目山半山腰的小山村,自然、历史与乡村建造是这里的主题,这与上海、杭州等大城市的集聚形成极大的反差,也是中国城市与乡村公共空间最为充满张力的图景。




Project Credits:
Hangzhou Civic Center
Location: Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China
Client: Hangzhou Civic Center Engineering and Construction Headquarters
Area: 580,000 m2
Height: 110 m
Program: Urban complex, municipal administration offices, administrative services, public service center, municipal library, municipal youth activities center, urban planning exhibition center, etc.
Design Team: Linxue Li, Lizhi Ren, Jie Wu, Jianqiu Chen, Liping Zhang
Dates: 2003 - 2015
Status: Completed






Interview by: 王轶群 Yiqun Wang,吴逸欣 Yixin Wu
Graphics:  高盛枫 Lisa Gao,秦瑜 Qin Yu,吴叶 Bella Wu
Editing/Layout: 汪宸宇 Claire Wang,吴叶 Bella Wu,  施云子 Yunzi Shi
Proofing/Overview: 何牧 Clara He,汪子京 Tommy Wang,曾迪 Di Zeng ,陈勇图 Toby Chan

2020 | ChinaGSD