Fragmented Continuum

A new method of revitalizing an old canal in Beijing as a new urban axis

Related Staff : Holger Kehne, Yan Gao, Ulrich Kirchhoff

Student: Yin Chuhong Haley

Thesis Abstract

My thesis is to revitalize the full length of a 20-kilometer old canal in Beijing as a new urban axis by introducing a series of small scale urban infrastructure as the “fragmented continuum” other than merely landscaping the whole canal bank or do large commercial development on selected spots.

Historically, the canal was essential in transporting commodities between counties and cities. The series of stopping points such as water locks and piers alongside it enhanced the prosperity of surrounding villages. But since the railway system became dominant, the canal was gradually forgotten and abandoned. However, since the setup of the new sub-center of Beijing, there is the urgency and potential to revitalize the old canal to activate the linear urban space between the two centers.

The main challenge is to tackle the extremely large scale and the universal context. My overall strategy is to overlay a regular frame system on the canal and pick one spot per kilometer. Then I compress all of them and compose a new collaged fictional site. After that, I propose a linear infrastructure on the fictional site, consist of two main types of program which are homogeneous exhibition space and local-specific community spaces. Once everything has been settled in the linear infrastructure, it will be divided into 20 pieces again and redistributed to the actual location. The canal itself would be activated as the stretched internal circulation and space of the proposed fragmented infrastructure. By doing so, the whole canal can be revitalized and act as the backbone of its surrounding linear urban space.

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