InCity: Urban Complex in Wuhan

Department: Architecture
Designer: Beisi Jia, in collaboration with Baumschlager Eberle Hong Kong Ltd
Contributing Partner: A+E (collaborating architect, structural engineer)

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InCity challenges the conventional urban architectural design at three levels. Firstly, it implements the “Infrasturalism” concept in the largest state-owned industrial community, stimulating a transition from socialist comprehensive enterprise community to city life. The building complex operates as a “platform” or “infrastructure” to support a changing diversity of the community. Secondly, it is designed by Integrated Design Process (IDP) involving a variety of professionals starting from early design stage. Thirdly, it actively uses passive energy design methods to respond to extreme climatic conditions of the city Wuhan, which is characterized by very hot summers and cold winters. In short, the project’s originality lies in its operation as “a city” within a city, which means that the project’s scale provides dynamic possibilities involving public spaces, multiple functions, pedestrian networks and job opportunities associated with the largest national pre-industrial estate in China.

Founded in 1954, Wuhan Iron and Steel Corporation is one of the largest state-owned factories in China and one of the 500 largest enterprises in the world. The factory, which is located in Qingshan, is an enclosed and self-sustained compound where employees enjoyed not only permanent work but also access to education, medical care, social and cultural facilities of all kinds. Wuhan Iron and Steel Corporation is also considered as a model of socialist enterprise. The Qingshan InCity project design started at a difficult time when the industry was closing down and tens of thousands of employees were either forced to retire or were dismissed. This project aims to re-establish a center of community, linking Qingshan back to the city, to provide jobs for small businesses and to sustain the memory and identity of the place. Apart from social and economic significances, the project also contributes to the following areas:

1. New urban morphology: Infrastructuralism in urban density

Although the transformation of urban density and the concept of creating a sustainable city  have long been implemented as part of the city policy, in-depth research on the theoretical understanding of new urban complexity and its impact on spatial quality based on newly-built cases have remained lacking. As a participatory design project, the Qingshan InCity project addressed the importance of the circulation system, the prototype of elevated public spaces in different scales, as well as internal and external interactions, thereby creating comfort and human atmosphere. Moreover, the project demonstrated a morphological difference between traditional high-density urban complexes and the new ones. High density buildings do not automatically create an adequate program mixture if the architecture does not have an infrastructural characteristic. Spatial atmosphere remains the key to the development of a sustainable city where people can enjoy the benefits of walking and commuting comfort and human atmosphere. Moreover, the project demonstrated a morphological difference between traditional high-density urban complex and the new ones. High density does not automatically create a program mixture if the architecture does not have an infrastructure characteristic. Spatial atmosphere remains the key to the development of a sustainable city where people can enjoy the benefits of walking and commuting.

2. IDP as design methodology

The traditional design process is no longer suitable for green design. Therefore, Integrated Design Process (IDP) was implemented for this project. We, the architects, became team leaders rather than form-givers, whereas other engineers played an active role  at the early design stages. The main strategies of IDP include goal-driven performance, collaborative effort, systematic thinking, interactive process and whole-life cost analysis. Key assistive measures, such as performance (target setting), integrated design team (staffing), quantitative environmental analysis (simulation), workshop (teamwork), and database (products) for green buildings were essential to the success of the building construction.

3. Passive energy design for inland city Wuhan

Wuhan is characterized by very cold winters and extremely warm summers. We proposed a maintenance energy reduction of 40%-50% while preserving  a high outdoor-indoor thermal comfort. Green architecture should not only rely on mechanical and engineering technology. Passive energy design can reduce a large proportion of cooling and heating energy by developing the layout, construction, and material defined in architectural design phases. Major design efforts were found in south-facing massing, shading device, compact forming, calculating minimum window to wall ratio, glazing with high thermal performance, good insulation, and incorporating high-level air tightness among others.

InCity: Urban Complex in Wuhan 1
UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG
FACULTY OF ARCHITECTURE