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Utopia Is Always Green
乌托邦永远是绿色的

RE-IMAGINING GUOMAO INTERSECTION

CLICK HERE to watch a video about this futuristic landscape vision!

BAM re-imagines a hyper-busy, continuously expanding intersection at the center of Beijing’s Central Business District.

“Instead of doing ‘little green tricks’ in the city, we will incorporate roads and bridges and extend the definition of landscape design.” BAM

“Designers must look beyond technology in their visions of the future.” BAM

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BAM believes it is the job of designers today to probe visions of future urban landscapes for social purposes. How can we reclaim our urban spaces as a true fabric of the city? How can we recreate an urban realm that is not only about pop-up retail, rental bikes, and other quasi-commercial interests? How can we resuscitate the local culture that exists in the streets and allow it to grow into a larger, more flourishing culture of the new urban spaces?

To answer this question BAM believes we must delve deep into the current conditions of our streets and the people who occupy them. By interviewing, recording, measuring, counting cars, counting pedestrians, drawing, and modelling for over 1.5 years, BAM analyzed the Guomao intersection in Beijing.

GUOMAO IS A LANDSCAPE

Guomao intersection is a landscape and needs to be designed as one.

The Guomao intersection constitutes the largest area of public space within the CBD of Beijing. As Beijing races to become one of the great cities of the world, this center of its Central Business District becomes a glaring contradiction to the city’s otherwise futuristic ambitions.

BAM’s analysis of Guomao examines the complicated nature of the design problem surrounding the Guomao site. The drawings, diagrams and documentation are compiled by BAM preceding a design phase wherein the entire Guomao intersection has been re-imagined.

Although Beijing development has been very fast, the damaged urban condition of Guomao has been building up over the past 30 years. Over those last 30 years it has never been designed for people, only automobiles. Although the intersection is designed for automobiles, driving through the intersection is actually the slowest way to get through it. During peak traffic hours it is faster to walk through the intersection, which given its massive size can take upwards of 8 minutes to traverse. It is almost always faster to ride a bike through the intersection than to drive.

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When examining how the intersection functions it is blatantly evident that although the intersection was really only conceived as for cars the variety of uses and programs that inhabit the space are far more diverse. BAM has categorized these kinds of programs into two basic types, HARD programs and SOFT programs. As is the case with Landscape Architecture, a specific program is often not defined, as opposed to architecture in which a buildings occupancy is limited, number of facilities are calculated and predefined, areas for programs are prescribed or suggested, landscape projects and sites more often than not lack this kind of rigorous predefined framework or requirements. In the landscape, those requirements, must be created, as the project develops, or observed as an existing cultural behavior then reinserted as a project ‘requirement’. Thus, in landscape ‘program’ can range from the functional use of a designated space, to transient activities that the design hopes to encourage either through how the site is managed or what is physically permissible, as determined by the physical and ephemeral (shade) qualities of the space.

For the Guomao analysis, HARD programs are seen as constructed, or semi-permanent functions of the space such as Bus Terminal, parking lots, green areas, HVAC and other Technical structures, subway entries, fenced off empty space (hardscape) and roads. The SOFT programs are those programs which manifest and cluster in regions at specific times then dissipate with no or insufficient constructed infrastructure or organizational system to maintain order. In many cases such programs have a grossly under-sized infrastructural facilities which during peak traffic hours cannot hold the vast numbers of people, thus quickly overflow creating large groupings of people which start to invade and hinder the flow of other aspects of the intersection.

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One such example are the local bus lines and associated street stops. These stops have small shelters associated with various bus lines, yet during peak traffic hours the numbers become so great as to entirely fill and block large portions of the sidewalks, pedestrian traffic in these regions comes to an almost stand still, food vendors are pushed into the roads and other regions of the intersection, the amassing group of bus-waiters then further grows as people start to flood the streets, which then not only hinders automobile traffic but makes it difficult for busses to fully pull over to the dedicated bus lane which is by this point rendered useless. Partially pulled over busses then cause a ripple effect with more busses jammed behind, creating greater problems for the general auto traffic. This SOFT program of ‘bus waiting’ occurs at multiple points in the intersection to varying degrees. Such other SOFT programs which encounter their own set of issues are things like food vending, and taxi pick up or black cab ride soliciting.

In the end when mapped visually it is possible to see the fact that Guomao is an incredibly complex and interconnected landscape. It is not only an intersection for cars, it is heavily used by people and it needs to be designed for these people. Guomao is a landscape.

Moreover, the design problem of the Guomao landscape is not just about how to fix functional issues, nor just about achieving a Hong Kong level of efficiency and interconnectivity. Guomao is a landscape that represents the center of the Central Business District of the capital of China, and there exists a problem between the idea of the space and the reality of the situation. In photographic representation and indeed in people’s imaginations, Guomao is a majestic show of ingenuity. However, when actually experienced at the scale of a person the environment is much different.

The idea of Beijing’s CBD is one of incredible shiny building and amazing architecture, yet the reality of Guomao is a disorganized, messy space this is difficult to walk, drive, or bike across. The idea of the CBD is modern, efficient, advanced, but the reality of Guomao is that it is random, disorganized, and under regulated. The idea of the CBD is that it is a leading center of business for the world. The reality of Guomao is that it is not designed to meet even the basic standards of local city transportation. The idea of the CBD is that you must build skyscrapers because the land is so valuable, yet the reality of Guomao is that the land is so undervalued that huge areas remain empty, unused, and dirty. Devoid of value, both financially and emotionally.

UTOPIA IS ALWAYS GREEN

When taking on an entirely theoretical project, such a Guomao, the critical questions which BAM continues to grapple with is the extent to which the final proposal manifests as a utopian vision. Is the intention to be a fully practical and implementable proposal or is it simply an exercise in unfettered imagination? Are we intending to imagine what the condition could be in 5 years or are we envisioning how it would ideally function in 100 years?

We believe that a middle road must be taken. As with all things Chinese the contradiction is in fact that we envision the project to be a chabuduoa (more-or-less) implementable ideal yet not fully utopian proposal. For example, we know, as does everyone in Beijing, that under Guomao there is a secret network of pathways and military infrastructure, there could in fact be an entire subway system that we are unaware of, thus it is almost inevitable that the design proposal will conflict with such unknowable secret infrastructural networks and we simply have to trust that if the vision for Guomao is seductive enough that such issues would not be viewed as prohibitive to the implementation of the proposal. Yet on the other hand the proposal has to reign in its futuristic utopian visions as to not simply function as an icon but to actually offer concrete solutions to current problems such as the car.

In a theoretic design proposal, it would be easy to simply remove all the roads from the site and propose that, what was once road is now a park. No doubt a green, sustainable, utopian vision for the city. Yet such a strategy only serves to further ingrain in both the general public as well as the design community that the roads, and the intersection are not landscape. Such a proposal would only exacerbate and inflate a dichotomy which doesn’t exist, it promotes the misinterpretation that the roads and intersection are not a landscape, and since the entire existence of this theoretical exercise is to define ‘what landscape is’ promoting such a sophomoric ideal wrapped in the guise of beautiful renderings and pseudoscientific analysis serves to better educate no one. Thus, the roads and how or why we choose to deal with them is one of the critical founding pillars of the design proposal’s intent.

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Simply removing the roads and making the area green seems like the most obvious “landscape” solution. The choices we have made about the scope of the design and what items will be designed for are intended to expand the standard understanding of where landscape design lies. Just removing the roads and replacing it with green, such as Ma Yansong’s theoretical project in Beijing for Chang-An Jie, simply displaces the problems of the system elsewhere, outside of the arbitrarily defined site. If the Guomao proposal were to remove all roads and not deal with the automobile traffic as a central issue of the site and just make this region a park or plaza or pedestrian street, there would be two major draw backs, one for the design problem which we have set for ourselves and the other for the definition of landscape design.

The first is that we would be pushing a major portion of the design material (in the form of the automobile traffic problems) out of our designated site area, which then creates only two options, one to either fix the auto circulation outside of our designated site in order to free up our site of such requirement or two, given it is only a theoretical pursuit, ignore the fact that we have displaced this major issue elsewhere. If we were to go with the first option of designing the auto-traffic to circumvent the intersection and free Guomao from traffic we would be confronted with the paradox that the site which we have designated as the critical site for landscape oriented thinking, in fact is not the site which takes the lion share of effort to determine, because any region that actually deals with the auto will be a more complex problem to solve. To free our chosen site, the Guomao intersection, of cars we would in fact have to focus not on the site itself but on peripheral sites. The problem then turns form the issue of dealing with one intersection (Guomao) to the 4-6 other intersections directly adjacent to Guomao all of which have their own unique problems and conditions. By attempting to remove the automobiles entirely from the Guomao intersection, a condition is created in which the region of design focus has the tendency to continue expanding. By pushing the critical design aspect outside of the proposed site for intervention, the size of the site continues to enlarge itself, potentially infinitely.

The lack of clarity which would arise from a continuously expanding site is not something that we wanted to have happen in the design process. The site needs to be defined. The solution for the site needs to be a localized solution which deals with the problems of that specific condition without pushing major design elements or constraints onto other parts of the city. This would be true for other such programs on the site whether or not they are HARD or SOFT programs those functions cannot be placed outside of our designated site. For this theoretical design problem to illustrate the power of understanding and designing the urban landscape everything that is currently contained in the site must be designed for. This also has the effect of taking the idea of the project one step away from purely theoretical towards potentially feasible.

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However, the complexity of the site does not fully allow for a clear distinction between what is and what is not the Guomao intersection. Furthermore, Guomao’s iconic flyovers are extremely large and touchdown much farther away from the Guomao intersection itself. For the intersections north-south flyover the elevated roads actually start and stop in different intersections in seemingly completely different parts of the city as is the case for the Shuangjing intersection to the south which is directly connected to Guomao via a very long flyover. Thus, BAM has organized the site into two basic scales, the smaller scale, which is the Guomao intersection itself, the point at which all roads, metro stations, bus lines, intersect, this is the ‘Site.” The slightly larger scale, called the “Extended Site’ is determined by where all of the various flyovers touchdown.

Ultimately, the most important reason to not ‘push’ the problems of the site, such as the roads, out of our designated area, is that this would essentially perpetuate the almost ubiquitous understanding that landscape design is a dressing. Often people don’t see roads and especially highway like interchanges such as Guomao as the purview of landscape architects, or the landscape at all. Architecture, Landscape, and Urban designers are generalist, their purpose is to be able to problem solve across varied fields to help arise at a holistic vision in order to function in the people’s best interest. By contrast Engineers typically are specialists, their focus and expertise are often only one aspect of what a building, landscape, or city is. Yet in situations such as Guomao there is no ‘designer’ advocating for the integration of various engineered aspects. Essentially Guomao was designed by engineers, not designers, and the result is an atrocious human experience. The exercise of designing Guomao is a method through which BAM can insist and illustrate that landscape design is not just the “parsley on the pig.”

THE DESIGN CONTEXT OF GUOMAO

BAM’s exploration of the Guomao site does not stand alone but is one among a growing discourse surrounding the site, both theoretical as well as professional. On the professional end of the spectrum, Beijing’s CBD is more than doubling its size. SOM was the winner of the masterplan for the CBD expansion. Guomao is considered the central hub of the first half of the CBD, and as such plays an important infrastructural role in the CBD expansion.

Additionally, the last plot of the first half of the CBD, which is directly adjacent to the Guomao intersection and boarders the intersection’ North East corner. This plot is being developed as a series of ‘iconic’ tall towers designed by star-architects such as KPF and MAD. The base of the towers there will be a small park lined with ‘luxury’ retail.

The professional discourse surrounding the site functions as a reference for how in the future Guomao is intended to be used and understood, which is essentially entirely in alignment with how its currently being view and understood. While the future development will further strain the traffic condition at Guomao, which are already far past capacity, how the intersection is functionally viewed is essentially the same.

On the other hand, the theoretical discourse of Guomao gives a much more interesting perspective on how prominent designers and thinkers are viewing the problem of Guomao. While there are just a handful of people who have considered this condition, the most prominent and purposeful to analyze are proposals by Rem Koolhas of OMA and the other by Ma Yansong of MAD. It possibly should not be noted however, an EXTREMELY under-whelming proposal for the Guomao intersection was created by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, entitled ‘Golden Cross Sky Ring’ which won the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design ‘International Architecture Awards for the Best New Global Design 2011.’ However, it is clear that this proposal contains essentially no value in either illustrating a point or arguing one, and even mentioning it as is done here probably gives it more standing than it is worth.

OMA’s proposal was not directly for the Guomao site but for the last plot of the first half of the CBD, which in its current form add a handful of new towers adjacent to the intersection. Rem understood Beijing’s urban condition and typologies. Beijing is inherently not a vertical city, but a horizontal one, and like in many cities across China, original typologies be they from pre-modern times or post revolution industrial times are being systematically destroyed and replaced by the ‘Corbusian mistake.’ Thus, in an effort to maintain something classically ‘Beijing’ Rem, clusters all the required GFA into one large super building which occupies and bridges the interstitial space of the Guomao intersection leaving the plot which was indented to be built on, available for low density, low rise Beijing style markets and habitations.

Rem’s proposal for Guomao is ingenious. While architecturally and urbanisitically the super structure over the Guomao intersection does further complicate the intersection, the current built situation of the intersection is already an amalgam of band-aid solutions never considered holistically. Thus, the insertion of architecture is simply one more element which would prompt more add-hock development of the space. While this may seem far from ideal, given the already dismal condition of the intersection, it essentially can’t be any worse. A building would be welcome.

While in this proposal the intersection itself would be almost impossibly complicated, however what is gained on the last plot of the CDB which was intended to take upon this architectural mass is instead a low rise urban condition which is sensitive to it context, not only historically and architecturally, but humanistically. A low density, low rise, environment would provide great potential for respite in the overly crowded hyper dense, overpriced, bustling busy, dirty and loud Beijing CBD. However ingenious Rem’s proposal is, in the end, it is more of a protest then an active solution. Yes, the idea is great, and yes, the city would be much better if considered this way of proceeding, however, this proposal does not take into consideration the Chinese mindset for developing, nor put in the real time and effort to be convincing design proposal. Rem’s proposal is really more of a ‘fuck you’ to the Beijing government as well as any and all architects participating in the competition for the last plot design. Let’s be perfectly clear, BAM is all for ‘fuck you,’ however with regard to this critical site we believe that a more profound exclamation regarding the values of landscape oriented design can be made, and a more proactive proposal could be used to enlighten the current thinking about the site as opposed to alienating the Beijing audience, and when all is said and done, the proposal is still only an architecture-centric perspective, in which buildings are seen as the only solutions to urban problems. If one were to make a stand and speaks out against this rampant development perpetuating the unavoidable Corbusian architectural dogma, why continue to propose architecture at all?

In contrast to Rem’s proposal which can be lauded from a variety of perspectives, Ma Yansong’s proposal is laughably sophomoric and speaks to the shallow and A-intellectual aspects of Chinese ‘technology driven’ architectural thinking. Given that Ma Yansong’s flashy and smooth designs have thrust him into the spot light of Chinese architecture and he is seen to be pushing the boundaries of the profession, the impetus to advocate for Beijing and China responsibly and intelligently is heightened, yet his retrograde, early-modernist-eutopian-nature-romance thinking does not deliver in today’s day and age.

Ma Yansong’s proposal is a giant alien like structure which floats over the entire CBD which supposedly supports a park on top of the fluid shiny form and Ma Yansong’s states the following about the proposal:

The CBD in Beijing was built according to a western vision of modernization created in the last century. We need to jump ahead and create a city centre for our post-western, postindustrial society. The future of Beijing needs to be interrelated rather than a sea of individual glass boxes, each striving to be taller than the last.

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There are so many things wrong with this statement. Firstly, even the term CBD is not entirely a ‘western’ fabrication. European and American cities developed over time, their ‘down towns’ flourished and failed, and the cycle repeated and again, but the CBD or Central Business District is not a result of the ebb and flow of capitalist markets. The CBD is not the result of the expansion and contraction, the diaspora then re-congregation and gentrification of urban centers which over time has solidified clusters of economic prowess in European and American cities. The CBD, as a term as well as an existing place is a planned, constructed, and injected with economy and is nothing but a direct result of booming developing world economies looking to create cities overnight. Dubai, Shanghai, Jakarta, and the list goes on. The creation of a CBD itself is predominantly a ‘developing world’ phenomenon. Ask a New Yorker, or a Londoner, where the Central Business District is, you will receive a cock eye glance seeming to say, “What are you talking about?” Go to any city in China, Southeast Asia, or the Middle East and ask the same questions, chances are you will be taken to the correct place. Its laughable to equate a CBD with western ideologies or economic modes.

In the global economy, ideas clearly do not stay put, but the driving force behind the creation of CBD’s was the demand created by the booming east, not an idealized vision enforced by the west. Additionally, visions of New York City, and London, with their skyscrapers are manifestations of capitalist markets and the resulting wealth and prosperity. China is infamous for constructing entire towns of skyscrapers which stand completely empty, apart from entire cities built for nonexistent inhabitants, similarly entire CBDs are build, with no tenants in mind and do not reflect market needs. While this driver to create entire new cities may not be unique to China it is certainly and by far more present in China than anywhere else in the world and it seems misplaced that Ma point the finger at the west for China’s ubiquitous use of the skyscraper.

Ma does recognize the issue that people often mistakenly view cities not for the landscape, which functions as a connecting tissue, but for the buildings which define the skyline, yet falls utterly flat and in fact contradicts his own feeble statement in the design proposal itself. He critiques the model of ‘western’ urbanization for its one-upmanship of building heights yet proposes a structure far taller than any building in Beijing, and possibly the world, far beyond what is considered to be possible. Ma calls for Beijing to be more ‘interrelated’ yet ignores the ground plane proposing a park atop an impossibly tall structure which has no relationship to the city as is, nor to how people use the urban landscape or parks.

Ma claims the Beijing CBD is a western vision yet utilizes a design language which has developed from western architectural discourse, utilizing digital tools created by westerns in the west, not to mention his western education which no doubt played a role in his exposure to the discourse. Yanson’s confusion and discontent with the Chinese urban condition is understandable, as we at BAM also search for answers to similar questions, yet to have ones work so clearly represent the antithesis of what one says, suggests that the west’s burning desire for logic, maybe the only thing from the west Ma Yansong managed to miss.

To continue along the academic vein, MA state that his proposal is in contrast to the west’s vision of modernization yet does not delve nor propose a definition of ‘western modernization,’ or how it got to be that way, or in any way shape or form illustrate a knowledge of the condition being contrasted points to fundamental lack of any meaningful position. Yet, as a utopian vision Ma Yansong’s Guomao proposal cannot be attacked for its imaginative qualities for which it is clearly strong. Utopias, are typically build upon social issues or technological advances and in some cases pure fantasy. Ma’s utopian vision tend more towards pure fantasy than anything real however when such an idyllic proposal is placed in the context of a city which is facing serious, long term and globally impacting social, organizational, and environmental issues to be publicizing such a proposal as a vision for Beijing in the year 2050, with no recognition of the actual urban issues the city faces, is entirely vapid. This proposal amounts to no more than architectural masturbation with computers, lacking any content, vision, or intellectual basis. BAM stands in direct opposition to this evangelical non-thinking, and meaningless formalism which is no more than early modernist visions of the ‘machine-for-living’ or the ‘machine-the-garden’ masked by computing.

In response to these various proposals for Guomao both theoretical and real, BAM believes there is a void. The theoretical proposals tend to not deal with the real condition of the site nor with a consideration for of how the city intends to develop. On the other hand the ‘real’ proposals are simply corporate architecture and planning companies fulfilling requirements as set forth by bureaus and developers, and completely lack any consideration for what would be better for the city. Regardless of whether these Guomao proposals are theoretical or ‘real’ they are entirely envisioned through architecture and exclusively by architects. BAM’s proposal for Guomao intends to illustrate the true power of not just design thinking, but of LANDSCAPE oriented thinking when applied to desperate urban conditions, and work to debunk China’s architecture-oriented visions of urbanity.

重新成像国贸路口

点击这里 观看关于这个未来风景愿景的视频!

BAM在北京商务中心区(CBD)的核心,重新设想了一个超级繁华并不断扩张的交叉路口。

“我们将道路和桥梁融入城市的脉动,以此拓展‘景观设计’的定义,而不是使用所谓的‘绿色小把戏’。” BAM

“设计师在对未来的想象中必须有超越现有技术的视野。” BAM

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BAM认为,如今设计师的工作是探索未来城市景观的社会用途。我们如何才能将城市空间重新还原成城市的真正面貌?我们如何能够重塑一个不仅是为了获取‘快闪商铺’、‘共享单车’和其它商业设施利益的城市空间?我们如何能够重现街道上已有的本地文化,并使其成长为一个更大、更繁荣的新城市空间?

为了回答以上问题,BAM深入研究了CBD周边街道和其‘使用者’的现状:BAM用一年半的时间,通过采访、记录、测量、绘图、建模及对车辆和行人的计数,对北京国贸枢纽进行了详尽的分析。

国贸是一种景观

国贸桥应该被视作“景观”来进行整体设计。

国贸桥环绕于林立的摩天楼宇之间,是北京CBD内最大的公共空间,也是北京的几大“拥堵点”之一。随着北京向世界级发达城市转变的快速迈进,国贸桥作为CBD的核心,其现状与城市未来发展的雄心形成了明显的矛盾。

BAM根据国贸地域复杂的自然属性做出了详尽的分析,并提出新的设计可能性,我们可以从这些图纸资料中看到BAM是如何基于这样的畅想,完成项目设计的过程。

北京从未停下发展的脚步,同时也遗留了一些问题和矛盾,随着发展不断变得激化。国贸桥就是这样一个问题,其成因甚至可以往前追溯30年。在过去的30年间,国贸桥的设计似乎从来都只为机动车考虑,而非行人。即便如此,车行至国贸桥处依然会遭遇交通拥堵与滞缓。尤其在早晚高峰时期,步行通过此处都要比开车快得多(开车通过需要至少8-10分钟),因此在任何时间段,骑自行车也许才是最明智的选择。

在分析国贸桥——这个承载多种活动的公共中心该如何运作时,除了考虑到显而易见的机动车行要求,还要将潜在的各种可能性,以及与该地块产生关系的因素都一并考虑进去。BAM将在此已有的功能和设施,以及可能发生的活动分为两个属性:“硬性”与“软性”。与建筑设计不同,在景观设计中,某个空间的属性通常是没有明确的定义:建筑设计因为其空间容积有限,需要事先将各类设施、功能空间所占的面积规划好;而景观设计中则大多不需要这样精准的预估,类似的需求被相对“软化”,或可成为项目内置的文化特征及人文表现,往往还会随着设计的进程而不断演变发展。因此,景观设计中发生的“活动”,以及承载它们的空间属性,可以是纯功能性的、固定的,也可以是临时的、瞬时性的。通过对空间“质感”的微妙把控,我们想用设计来强化的,不单是客观的、物理性的存在,还有如何使其产生时间效应并与使用者建立联系。

对国贸桥的分析中,“硬性”设施,包含道路、公交枢纽、地铁站、停车场、绿地、封闭空地、HVAC(暖通空调)等市政设施,以及其他永久或半永久性质的构筑物。“软性”活动则代表脱离了物理空间限制或管控,动态流量在某一时间点大量聚集,在另一个时间点又分散、消退的现象。大部分情况下,基础设施的不够完善的确会导致“软性”活动的产生——在早晚高峰,大量人流、车流涌现时,失去了应有的效应,导致人流、车流“侵占”其他空间,严重影响交通通畅。

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公交线路及其沿线站台就是其中一个例子:在早晚高峰时段,由于等候公交的人群太过庞大,不但将这些带有顶棚的候车区域占满,还挤占了大面积的人行道,并且不断向道路上蔓延;而原本应走在人行道上的那些人举步维艰,沿街的小摊贩也被人流挤至机动车道,而等候公交车的人还在不断增加。这种混乱不仅导致车辆无法通过,公交车专用道也变得“无用”,等待载客的公交车甚至不能正常行驶进站、载客离去——好不容易让一半车身“钻”进站,却又堵住了紧随其后的其他公交车——一系列连锁反应造成了恶性循环。“候车”这个被我们视为“软性”的活动在这个案例中就像投入水中的石头,激起多方相互作用,并且随着不同的情境,还会导致不同的严重程度。类似的,容易导致一系列问题和矛盾的“软性”活动还有沿街摊贩、出租车上下车以及黑车揽活等。

最终通过这些视觉的映射,我们可以看到,国贸桥其实是一个极其复杂却又相互关联的景观。它不仅是一个为了使汽车通行而存在的交叉路口,它也需要为行人而设计,事实上,已经有大量的行人在使用这个路口了——国贸桥是一个景观。

此外,国贸桥的景观设计不是仅仅解决功能性问题,也不是仅仅达到“香港式”街道的高效与联通这么简单。国贸是中国首都北京CBD的核心,有着可以被航拍的壮丽美景,有存在于人们脑海中的想象与向往,摩天大楼亮闪闪的玻璃幕墙渲染出满眼繁华。然而,当我们以个体的角度沉浸式地体验它,却发现混乱与不便大于繁华。

理想中的CBD集合了不可思议的光鲜的高楼和惊人的建筑,而现实中的国贸却是无序的,混乱的空间让行人、机动车、自行车都举步维艰。理想中的CBD是现代化、高效且发达的,而现实中的CBD却是随机的、杂乱无章且疏于管理的。正因为高昂的地价,国贸并不是被设计用来仅仅满足当地最基本的交通需求,而是要建造各式各样的摩天大楼,而现实却是,土地被如此低估,以至于大片地区仍然是无用的、空置的、甚至是脏乱的,无论从经济上还是情感上,这都是毫无价值体现的。

乌托邦永远是绿色的

国贸桥的再设计是一个纯理论层面的规划项目, 畅想和希冀暂时只停留在图纸上,我们这种乌托邦式的设想究竟只是一场头脑风暴、还是切实可行的,以及我们是否需要考虑今后5年的情况、甚至说是否需要想象它会在100年里完美发挥功能?

BAM相信,解决这样的棘手问题,就算无法一蹴而就,也要在一条“折中”的道路上坚持。这个项目并不是单纯的“乌托邦式”设想,至少我们认为它有其“相当的”可行性。比如每个生活在北京的人都知道国贸区域的地下空间存在着有一部分并未公示的地铁系统和军用设施,而我们的设计不可避免地会与这些尽管存在、但不可见也不可控的因素产生矛盾。但如果我们的设计具有足够的吸引力,那么这些因素是否也不应该成为阻碍因素呢?另一方面,尽管我们的设计的确着眼于较为理想的未来视野,但它不仅仅是一个空泛的大框架,而针对现存问题提出了详尽、可靠的解决方案。

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在一个理论性的规划方案中,有的设计方式也许倾向于轻易地剥离现有的设施,将任何看起来不太合理的道路变成公园,这样的国贸桥地块岂不是更像一个绿色的理想世界?但其实这种做法,无疑没有将道路、岔口这些相对复杂的城市“有机体”视作景观的一部分。简单粗暴地将道路变为绿地,只能得到一些绿意盎然的渲染图,看起来挺漂亮的,但是对于现实生活中仍旧存在的问题并无任何建设性的意义,并且让景观设计陷入一种并不存在的二元对立。尽管这只是一个理论项目,我们依旧坚持在设计中将道路、岔口的真实现状作为设计的基础,而疏通则是我们的意图。

尽管将道路替代以绿地听起来颇像“景观”的设计,但我们恰恰希望,通过避免这样二元对立的处理方法,从而延展“景观设计”的定义与范围。马岩松提出过类似的设想,将长安街现存的问题抽离了设计的体系,用一副全新的想象图景易以代之。我们不妨做个假设——如果在国贸桥地块的理论规划项目中,也将所有的道路移除,去建设一个贯通CBD的大型中央公园——将会引发什么样的问题呢?

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第一个问题是人流、车辆的去向。早晚高峰时大量的动态流量引起的交通阻塞问题,恰恰也是具有现实意义的设计原材料。如果只是“为了设计而设计”,忽略现存问题并且推行全新的中央公园方案,之前阻塞在国贸桥下的人流、车辆,势必要绕行,要么规划出新的交通路线,要么索性忽略它们的存在。而不管采取哪种方式,人流、车辆去向都会在任何区域产生如同国贸桥区域这样的混乱现象。中央公园尽管用“制造景观”的方式让国贸桥获得了自由,但随即我们需要面对一个辩证性的问题:以制造新矛盾的方式解决旧矛盾,何时去解决新的矛盾?一个被4到6个甚至更多新的问题区域所包围的大型中央公园,在诞生的同时必然需要更多的解决方案了。将中心区域的交通问题向外推开,只会让现有问题更加扩大化、复杂化,并且这个问题区域会不断向外辐射。

在设计过程中,这样不断变化、向外扩散的问题区域是必须尽力避免的,需要进行规划的区域要有清晰的界线。我们为国贸桥地块提出的方案也需充分考虑其地域性,对于现存的矛盾和限制,无论是“硬性”设施,还是“软性”活动——我们视其为设计原材料,加以针对性地解决。即使国贸桥区域暂时只是浮于纸上的理论项目规划,也不能过于天马行空,我们将地块上发生的一切“有机的”元素融入设计的肌理,一同作为“都市景观”来整体规划,这也为这个“理论”项目的“现实”可行性奠定了基础。

尽管如此,国贸桥区域的界线却也不能用“清晰”来形容:标志性的巨大的高架桥延伸出区域本身,南通双井,北连团结湖。因此,BAM从两个不同的设计尺度看待亟待规划的国贸桥地块:“小尺度”,即国贸自身的道路、岔口、公交线路、地铁站;而“大尺度”则代表着国贸高架桥延伸的整个范围。

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最后,为什么不能用理想主义的中央公园轻言规划,最重要的原因是“景观设计”是广义的定义,而非表面化只做“景观”的设计;景观设计并不是建筑空间、城市空间这些主菜上铺陈的可有可无的香草叶。只不过,人们似乎普遍认为:道路,尤其是城市的高架桥、快速路不属于景观设计师们的工作范畴,它们本身也丝毫谈不上景观可言。然而,建筑师、景观设计师、城市规划师这几类人都有共同的特点——他们是“全才”设计师,常常跨领域进行设计,从囊括“全景”的高维度视野去看待问题,并得出有益于使用者的一个相对全面的方案。与“全才”设计师们相对比的是“领域型”工程师,他们往往有一套针对某行业的高精尖技术与工艺,出于它们的专业性,他们看待建筑、景观、城市的角度往往倾向于关注设计的某一个特定的“面相”。然而现今的国贸桥地域可以看作不同工程师们各自专业的汇总,谈不上有统领全方位的设计,而它早晚高峰时闹起的脾气,就好比身上零件之间不和谐的冲突。如今BAM在这次理论性质地畅想中,不再满足于“拼凑”出一套不同工程师眼中的“不同设计面相”的集合,而是从都市景观设计师的角度出发,也不只是做些“为城市添点绿”的小把戏,而是将道路、桥梁都融入城市的脉动,拓展“景观设计”的定义。“我们将道路和桥梁融入城市的脉动,以此拓展‘景观设计’的定义,而不是使用所谓的‘绿色小把戏’。”

国贸的设计脉络

BAM对于国贸桥区域的理论规划并不是孤立的,它存在于一个关注度越发高涨的城市规划探讨中,这其中既有理论性的展望,也有即将付诸实践的专业方案。北京CBD的范围正在扩大,未来会形成2倍于最初面积的规模,SOM建筑事务所的专业设计方案在此前赢得了北京CBD扩建设计竞赛。国贸桥区域被视作CBD一期的核心区域,也将成为CBD扩建的重要角色。

此外,紧挨国贸桥路口东北角的那片区域是CBD一期的最后一片发展地块,这里将有标志性的摩天大楼拔地而起,而KPF和MAD这样的“明星建筑师事务所”也参与其设计之中。为这些摩天楼规划的首层景观设计基本上依旧是环绕着奢侈品零售店的小型绿地公园。

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在对北京CBD的整体规划中,从建筑、景观设计,以及城市规划等专业角度衍生出来的探讨与设计方案代表着诸如国贸桥等核心地块未来的发展方向。然而,这些发展方向仍旧着重于打造普遍意义上更加“繁荣”的北京CBD,但单纯地将此区域的繁华现状再现式地向外扩展并不能解决现有的交通阻塞等复杂问题,甚至有可能让已然超负荷运转的公共系统更添压力。

从另一个角度来说,纯理论性的规划与探讨,则为有志于改善国贸周边现状的设计师和有识之士打开了更广阔的视角。尽管参与者并不算太多,但其中不乏有库哈斯(来自OMA)和马岩松(来自MAD)这样世界知名的建筑事务所代言人,提出他们大胆且具有问题针对性的方案。这里有个有趣的案例:来自芝加哥的Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill建筑事务所曾设计了一个名为“天空之环”(Golden Cross Sky Ring)的项目,尽管该项目获得了芝加哥雅典娜建筑设计博物馆颁发的“2011国际建筑奖”,因为其看似过于“架空”背景的“突发奇想”,成为了理论性项目过于空泛而无法产生任何现实效应的例子。

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OMA建筑事务所的规划方案并不是直接针对国贸桥区域的,而是选择了CBD一期的最后一片发展地块,那里正静候着更多高楼拔地而起。库哈斯对北京的城市地貌特征颇有了解,他认为,充满底蕴的北京城,本质上并不是个适合“纵向”发展的城市,更适宜“水平”发展,让厚重的文化、历史铺展开。但在城市快速工业化、现代化的进程中,部分宝贵的城市特征被抹去,取而代之的是将柯布西耶式、西方现代主义不适时宜、“水土不服”的解读付诸实践。库哈斯在方案中提出,建造一座大体量建筑,跨立于国贸桥地块之上,将办公室、公寓、酒店等功能、设施统一移至这座“超级大楼”当中,而在本该施工建楼的CBD一期最后地块,打造一个低密度、遍布低层建筑的生活化、宜居的人本社区,寻回传统的“北京特色”。

尽管库哈斯方案中提出,建设一个跨立于国贸桥上的“超级大楼”,从建筑以及城市规划的角度来看,似乎会让交通阻塞的情况更加复杂化,但将一处已然混乱不堪的公共空间转变为一座建筑却是十分巧妙的构想。我们已然从各个角度分析了国贸桥宛如“设计大杂烩”的现状,各个部位之间不断发生冲突。在这种情况下,人们对于糟糕现状的乐观智慧“总不能比现在更糟了”说不定也适应于库哈斯的方案:当一座空前的大型建筑出现时,势必会带动周边的发展,甚至革新,形成新的有机系统。

我们暂且把注意力从这座既可能使现有问题升级、也可能带来新发展的“超级大楼”,转向库哈斯方案中的另一个重点:释放CBD一期最后地块的空间压力,将本应被高楼大厦填满的高密度街区转变为低层建筑为主的低密度生活区,还原舒适的城市生活节奏。这个提议在其建筑价值与历史价值之外,兼具宝贵的人文价值。这样的生活区无疑会成为在拥挤、高速、焦虑、喧嚣一线城市中的小岛,北京CBD若能有一处这样的小岛,简直是一片绿洲。库哈斯方案之中的大胆与精妙,更多的是他强烈的个人态度的一种表达,而非可操作的解决方案,批判性与反思性大于实际性。这个设计无疑是令人向往的,城市若真按照方案提出的角度进行发展,也看起来“会更好”。但毕竟这是为北京提出规划方案,目前中国对于发展的追求仍旧是更加繁华与发达。库哈斯和其他参与北京CBD理论性展望的建筑师,包括BAM,都多多少少在方案中体现出一些与当地政府所持的不同发展态度。不难看出,库哈斯坚持将建筑作为规划的绝对主角,似乎只有建筑空间才能产生解决问题的答案。然而,我们似乎又面临一个悖论:如果建筑的过剩开发导致了眼下无尽的“柯布西耶式错误”的现代主义蔓延,为什么还要继续通过建造更多的建筑解决问题?

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对比库哈斯提出的这个值得从多个社会层面切入的大胆设计,马岩松当时提出的方案则略显单薄,只不过包裹在较强的“技术流”的设计“外衣”中。曾经由马岩松创造的那些惹眼、平滑的建筑空间已然将建筑师本人置身于建筑圈的镁光灯下,他也被视为推动设计手段的行业革新者。正因如此,一定程度上他在世界建筑行业中代来自中国北京的力量。而马岩松的建筑思虑,则偏向于带有一定浪漫色彩的早期现代主义时期,也许并不是最适应当今环境现状的最先进的建筑方法论。

在马岩松的方案中,一个流线型并闪闪发光的巨型建筑将悬浮于整个CBD之上,而这个形似外星生物的巨型建筑最上层还将打造一个空中花园。马岩松对此方案是如此解读的:

“北京CBD的最初形态,是根据上世纪西方现代主义的建设概念构成的,我们的设计思维需要跳出这个框架,打造带有我们自身特色,后西方、后工业时代的城市中心。未来的北京应该是相互贯通的,而不是一片比拼着谁更高的孤独玻璃盒子的海洋。”

然而,这份解读中不乏概念上的误解。首先,“CBD”这个说法,并不完全源于西方的语境。欧洲和美国的城市在不断发展中,市中心的概念是“Downtown”,经历不同的时代发展兴盛又衰败,周而复始。但“CBD”——“中央商务区”并不只是资本市场起伏不定的结果,也不是扩张和收缩的结果。随着时间的推移,散居在外的移民社区随之重新集结以及城市中心的高档化,在欧洲和美国的城市中巩固了其经济实力。“CBD”是发展中国家蓬勃发展、经济腾飞、“万丈高楼平地起”时造就的概念。迪拜、上海、雅加达……还有更多的城市在陆续地加入进来。“CBD”的产生更多是存在于“发展中国家”的现象。如果问一个纽约客或者伦敦人,CBD在哪儿,你会收到一个白眼好像是在说,“你在说什么呢!”而去中国,东南亚或者中东的任何一个城市中问相同的问题,你很可能会被带到正确的地方。所以将CBD与西方意识形态或经济模式划等号是可笑的。

当然,在全球经济中,任何观念都不会只停留在原地,但是推动CBD发展的背后的核心力量是东方世界经济发展的诉求,而非西方世界的意识形态。此外,诸如纽约、伦敦遍地摩天大楼都是与资本主义市场和其带来的财富与经济实力直接挂钩。中国因建设完全空置的摩天大楼而臭名远扬,除了建造了一座座“鬼城”之外,整个CBD也是建造出来的,既没有租户,也没有反映真实的市场需求。尽管创造新城的驱动因素可能并非是中国所独有的,但是,显然在中国比世界其他任何地方都要多见,而且看起来马岩松用中国遍地的摩天大楼来对比西方似乎是用错了地方。

马岩松确实认识到了这个问题,人们往往错误的只看到了城市,而不是具有连接组织功能的景观,但是对于那些定义了天际线的建筑来说,却变得完全扁平,事实上这与他设计建议本身虚弱的陈述相矛盾。他批判“西方”城市化的模式,就因为其在建筑高度上的一技之长,却提出了一个比北京甚至可能是世界任何建筑都要高得多的建筑,这远远超出了人们认为可能的范围。马岩松呼吁北京需要更多的“相互联系”,却忽略了这样一个基本问题:在一个高不可攀的建筑顶上建造的公园,是无法与城市建立任何联系的。另外,这个方案也不考虑人们如何去使用城市景观或公园。

马岩松声称,北京CBD是一种西方视角,利用了一种从西方建筑话语发展而来的设计语言,利用西方人创造的数字工具,更不用说他的西方教育,毫无疑问,这些都在他的演讲中发挥了作用。可以理解马岩松对中国城市状况的困惑和不满,因为我们BAM也在寻找类似问题的答案,但是,他的作品显然代表了与之所说的对立面,这表明,西方对逻辑的强烈的追求,也许是马岩松唯一的错失的来自于西方的东西。

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继续从学术的角度来探讨,马岩松的方案看似与西方现代化的视角形成了鲜明的对照,却并没有研究也没有提出“西方现代化”的定义,或者如何去达到,也没有提出如何以这种方式,或以任何方式塑造或构成说明对比状况的认识,表明缺乏基础深意的立场。但是马岩松的方案的确是一个完满的乌托邦式畅想,从他的方案本身出发去看待方案中的那些想象力,是足够有说服力的。然而,乌托邦,通常是建立在社会问题或技术进步的基础上,在有些情况下的乌托邦,最后只是奇幻的想象。马岩松的乌托邦视角更倾向于纯粹的幻想,而不是真实的情况。然而,当这样一个田园诗般的提案放在一个面临着严峻的、长期的及全球性影响的社会、组织和环境问题的复杂的城市肌理之下来宣传,对于北京2050年北京的展望,规避城市面临的实际问题完全是索然无味的。忽视这些问题,脱离设计语境,用计算机技术渲染出的乌托邦是空泛的,意淫式的设计。BAM认为这种自说自话、感动自我的形式化设计是缺乏思考的,就像重新经历人们依靠机器摆脱了手工的早期现代主义时期,认为机器无所不能。然而,机器终究不能替代我们真正的生活,电脑也无法取代我们设计。

综上,在对北京CBD的这些形态各异的理论性规划中,BAM认为仍然存在着一处空白,也是我们多次提及的——这些纯理论性质的方案对于现实问题的解决程度上都有所欠缺,也并未对城市未来的发展提出更远的展望。另一方面,通过设计竞赛等途径获胜,真实存在的专业方案又过于商业化或者体制化,仅仅满足政府、开发商建设的需求,对于现有“繁华”进一步复制,并没有从城市整体的角度寻求更好的可能性。但不论是理论性规划,还是即将落地的专业设计方案,完全出自建筑师的视角,仍旧本着以建筑为核心答案的方法论。而对BAM来说,这次对于国贸桥区域的设计挑战,我们决定通过思考的力量,既能重新定义与强化一直以来我们看待景观设计的角度和意义。最后,希望我们的努力能够为建筑的主流提供一些不一样的视角。