Urban Generator

location Beijing, China
date 2016
client Wanda Group
program shopping mall of the future
status competition, honorable mention
design team Studio Akkerhuis

For millennia cities have experienced a natural growth, with their urban fabric steadily developing around a market square, the city hall, a temple or a church. The industrialisation in the 19th century has accelerated the growth of our cities, culminating over the last fifty years in the rise of the mega city. Suburban sprawl, vast stretches of lifeless city blocks and ghettos are a direct consequence of this rapid growth.

Our proposal is to develop a new generator for the urban fabric and for city life. Inspired by the ancient city square and its farmers market, it will be a new powerful machine creating a sense of a true downtown. The reason is clear and deeply human: people need to meet each other, to experience the kind of energy and magic on which the notion of a city is fundamentally based.

Accessibility, urban morphology, diversity, identity, flexibility and density are identified as characteristics important to the growth and survival of today’s successful cities. These qualities are integrated in the framework of the project to insure a rich, powerful and interesting urban grid ready for a future in which it can adapt to the needs of future generations to come and act as a sustainable model for urban growth. The building is conceived as a traditional town square that develops into the sky and connects on multiple levels with its surroundings. The spatial organisation and its development are dependent on the transport infrastructures, which traverse the building. This infrastructure is its ‘raison d’être’: it is the modern city square, its boulevard and small streets connect its urban fabric.

We propose a new kind of space, around the connecting spaces and in between the urban fabric. This newfound space is neither inside nor outside: we call it IXterior space. It is where the new machine will thrive and finds its energy.

Like the piazzas, the boulevards and the little backstreets of the old medieval towns this is where urbanity thrives, where the town comes alive and fuels its neighbouring quarters with city life. It is the urban machine, the powerful generator of vibrant city life, a creator of energy and magic, on which our successful cities are based.