Small Intervention & Urban Surgery

We cannot expect the economy to keep high as what we have experienced in the last two decades. Many cities are transforming themselves from the rapid sprawl to the improvement of spatial and social quality. In the past decades, landscape architects have produced a vast amount of homogenous, coarse, and placeless spaces on this planet, especially on the land of China and other developing countries. We have to see the modern landscape design practice have created many fragmented, neglected, and unambiguous places in the city. They are often forgotten gaps or debris between many “symbolic”, “profitable”, or “iconic” spaces. We have to see we are so addictive to be designers of great “dream” projects. We are hands of crazy politicians and wasting billions of taxpayers’ money. We have to see we often have ignorance of local wisdom, power from grass root, and local construction experience. We have to see our values are pendulous: We are chasing most popular forms, materials, and colors from the Internet and magazines but we are so reluctant to make our hands and boots dirty on site. That is, we are very like an outsider or a knight on a white horse. Keeping doing that would finally make us become fast-fashion designers who are selling instant and superficial illusions. In this thesis study, we will explore several types of possibilities: How to revitalize the neglected, valueless, or even dangerous places in the city? How to understand human nature and behavior in a specific context and use the knowledge for a design intervention? On the other hand, how to understand the universal human nature and behavior as another driver of design intervention? How to use small and pristine design interventions to transform a site to a place with Genius Loci? Last, you don’t have to agree on all or some of my extreme opinions. Working with me if you have the same feeling(s) as mine.

Design Based in the Hidden Logic of Urban Environments: Chiangmai, Thailand

Invisible space refers to the hidden logical relationships among places, spaces, and human activities in urban environments. These relationships are often complex, multi-layered, and multidirectional. They are easily despised or ignored in the conventional practice of urban planning and landscape design, resulting in a significant lack of functional/spatial flexibility and social equity in urban environments. The students established one-to-one, or one-to-many, partnerships with Thailand residents to conduct in-depth field visits and research on urban space and landscape issues along the city moat and in its adjacent areas, and also to conduct a six-month design studio. The studio provided bottom-up research methods to understand the living status of residents and visitors, especially the socio-economically deprived individuals and groups in Chiang Mai moat. Students conducted the background research from literature review. They then worked with Thai students, focusing on behavior and phenomenon observation, questionnaire survey, and semi- structured interview, in order to identify the hidden logical relationships. Following this, the students developed landscape planning and design interventions based on the comprehensive and solid investigation findings, including design strategies, installations and models. The projects aimed to promote compatibility, flexibility, and just urban spaces for different types of users.

Small Intervention and Urban Surgery

We cannot expect the economy to keep high as what we have experienced in the last two decades. Many cities are transforming themselves from the rapid sprawl to the improvement of spatial and social quality. In the past decades, landscape architects have produced a vast amount of homogenous, coarse, and placeless spaces on this planet, especially on the land of China and other developing countries. We have to see the modern landscape design practice have created many fragmented, neglected, and unambiguous places in the city. They are often forgotten gaps or debris between many “symbolic”, “profitable”, or “iconic” spaces. We have to see we are so addictive to be designers of great “dream” projects. We are hands of crazy politicians and wasting billions of taxpayers’ money. We have to see we often have ignorance of local wisdom, power from grass root, and local construction experience. We have to see our values are pendulous: We are chasing most popular forms, materials, and colors from the Internet and magazines but we are so reluctant to make our hands and boots dirty on site. That is, we are very like an outsider or a knight on a white horse. Keeping doing that would finally make us become fast-fashion designers who are selling instant and superficial illusions. In this thesis study, we will explore several types of possibilities: How to revitalize the neglected, valueless, or even dangerous places in the city? How to understand human nature and behavior in a specific context and use the knowledge for a design intervention? On the other hand, how to understand the universal human nature and behavior as another driver of design intervention? How to use small and pristine design interventions to transform a site to a place with Genius Loci? Last, you don’t have to agree on all or some of my extreme opinions. Working with me if you have the same feeling(s) as mine.

For the Silent Majority: Community and Urban Space Design Interventions in Shenzhen Foxconn Urban Village

The Pearl River Delta is historically the manufacturing heartland of China and currently hosts some of the largest electronics manufacturers in the world. The resulting industrial structure, its related networks, and physical space have a great impact on the social, economic, and ecological landscape of the region. The eventual post-industrialization of the PRD—especially in light of the current economic slowdown and efforts to shift to tertiary industries—are particularly challenging and require strategic urban restructuring of the region. However, conventional methods of urban planning often operate at an urban or regional scale, overlooking the importance and agency of the individual in shaping their environments. This studio will investigate the social, economic and environmental impacts caused by the rapid growth of the electronic industry in the PRD. We will explore how landscape and urban design can facilitate new regional visions of the ecological and social environment that can be realized at the material scale, working simultaneously at multiple scales. The course unfolds in three stages: first is to understand the working and living status of Foxconn workers and other related population; in the second stage, we will conduct semi-structured interviews and field trip for a site in Shenzhen. The site is Qinghu Community adjacent to the Foxconn Longhua Industrial Park; In the third stage, we will develop planning and design strategies and techniques to create a more restorative and resilient community environment at the site and material scale.

Ms./Mr. Nobody: Humanity, Ecology, and Revitalization

The Pearl River Delta is historically the manufacturing heartland of China and currently hosts some of the largest electronics manufacturers in the world. The resulting industrial structure, its related networks, and physical space have a great impact on the social, economic, and ecological landscape of the region. The eventual post-industrialization of the PRD—especially in light of the current economic slow-down and efforts to shift to tertiary industries—are particularly challenging and require strategic urban restructuring of the region. However, conventional methods of urban planning often operate at an urban or regional scale, overlooking the importance and agency of the individual in shaping their environments. This studio investigated the social, economic and environmental impacts caused by the rapid growth of the electronic industry in the PRD. We explored how landscape and urban design can facilitate new regional visions of the ecological and social environment that can be realized at the material scale, working simultaneously at multiple scales. The course unfolded in three stages: first is to understand the working and living status of Foxconn workers and other related population; in the second stage, we conducted semi-structured interviews and fieldwork for a site in ShenZhen. The site is Qinghu Community adjacent to the Foxconn Longhu Industrial Park; In the third stage, we will develop planning and design strategies and techniques to create a more restorative and resilient community environment at the site and material scale.

Designing the Commonground – Landscape of Public Spaces in the City

The contemporary morphology of urban Hong Kong is the result of rapid population growth, land scarcity, diverse cultural identities and social, political and economic determinism. Its unique and ever-evolving urban forms are imprinted with the history of more than 150 years of piecemeal aggregation through reclamation, development, and renewal. Over time, each of these expansions adapts itself to the urban fabric, producing specific spatial conditions that shape the lives of its inhabitants. To work in this urban context, designers must develop a keen understanding of and ability to engage with its complexities and multi-layered conditions. The studio examines the relationships between people and the built environment in the public realm. Though there are a number of types and forms of open space within the city (from those that are formalized and legible to those that are ambiguous and contested; those that have been planned and those that have not) that together construct the public realm. We will primarily focus on the ‘everyday’ spaces within this assembly: the PR spaces of a dense and dynamic urban fabric, and the PR spaces of a primarily residential development. Though the studio is organized around the concept of ‘space’, we will see through research and design that this space is constructed by people, programs, and the flow of material and information through the city. Through a series of exercises, students will learn to identify, analyze, and document the key aspects (physical, ecological, economic and social) that shape an urban context; to build a vocabulary that communicates process, and to propose appropriate ways to intervene in this context. Studio will draw on methods introduced in ARCH 3103: Environment, Community and Design, in order to understand the various communities and stakeholders of each project site. Students will hone and apply skills of observation, oral interviews, and interpreting historic cultural research.

Industrial Ecology and Humanity, Landscape Strategies for Electronics Manufacturing in the PRD

This studio investigated the social, economic and environmental impacts caused by the rapid growth of the electronic industry in the PRD. We explored how landscape and urban design can facilitate new regional visions of the ecological and social environment that can be realized at the material scale, working simultaneously at multiple scales. The course unfolded in three stages: first was to understand the regional geographies of electronics industries by tracking the components and lifecycle of a smart phone; in the second stage, we conducted structured interviews and fieldwork for sites in the PRD heavily intertwined with the electronic industry; in the third stage, we developed planning and design strategies and techniques to promote healthy landscape and healthy people at the site and material scale. Taking Guiyu in the Guangdong Province as a potential site, we explored Guiyu Township in Guangdong Province and the serious environment problems caused by the illegal e-waste business. The studio explored how landscape and urban design can facilitate new visions of the ecological and social environment. Students’ primary entry point into the project was through observing the daily life of ordinary residents in Guiyu and how their lives were intertwined with the e-waste industry and addressed some of the difficult issues they have been confronted with. In this class, we worked together to identify four thematic problems and develop design interventions to address each problem. Students used the preliminary themes as the beginning. Then they worked on the thematic design interventions from a variety of aspects, including new industry, pollution treatment, preservation of cultural heritage, greenway design, etc. Each team generated adaptable site-scale landscape design projects reflecting their theme.

Landscape Community Studio: Urban Transects, Shanghai Street

The contemporary morphology of urban Hong Kong is the result of rapid population growth, land scarcity, diverse cultural identities and social, political and economic determinism. Its unique and ever-evolving urban forms are imprinted with the history of more than 150 years of piecemeal aggregation through reclamation, development, and renewal. Over time, each of these expansions adapts itself to the urban fabric, producing specific spatial conditions that shape the lives of its inhabitants. The studio focuses on Shanghai Street, one of the longest streets in Kowloon. Traversing 2.3 kilometers through four distinct neighborhoods, the street embodies a rich history whose character is reflected in its built forms, landscape and inhabitants. Originally a shallow bay, the area was reclaimed in the late 1800s. From the very beginning, Shanghai Street became economically vibrant due to its proximity to Ya Ma Tei Typhoon Shelter and the ferry piers. As the area continued to expand through reclamation, development and urban renewal, many of the original uses and inhabitants relocated to other areas of the city. Today we can still see remnants of traditional elements layered with new ones in many spaces that find contemporary uses by new occupants, such as artists, ethnic minorities, activists, prostitutes and venders. The studio examines the relationships between people and the built environment. Through a series of exercises, students shall learn to identify and analyze key aspects (physical, ecological, economic and social) that shape an urban context; to build a vocabulary that communicates urban forms and the environment, and to propose appropriate interventions to the context.

A Dose of Nature 01

A Dose of Nature: Tree Cover Density and Human Health

Project Title: A Dose of Nature: Tree Cover Density and Human Health

Team:
Bin Jiang (Co-PI, project manager), Chun-Yen Chang (Co-PI, National University of Taiwan), William C. Sullivan (PI, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)

Project Funder:
The study was partially supported with two grants from the USDA Forest Service: One recommended by the National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council (Agreement #11-DG-11132544-333); the other from the US Forest Service Northern Research Station. We appreciate members of the Sustainability and Human Health Lab at Illinois for their participation in this research.

Abstract:
The demands and pressures of modern life are precursors to two of the most deadly medical problems we face today, cardiac disease and stroke. Long-term responses to stressful events put individuals at higher risk for these serious conditions. Fortunately, there is mounting evidence that exposure to urban forests enhances the resources that allow people to more effectively manage their stresses.

In these studies, we found that people not only prefer urban forests with greater tree cover density, but more importantly that they recover faster from stressful events as tree cover density increases. When it comes to urban forests and recovery from stress, every tree matters.

These findings, however, differed by gender. For women, there was a strong effect of tree density on psychological stress. For men the impact was seen in psychological, physiological, and hormonal measures of stress.

These findings are consistent with pervious work showing that people living in close contact with urban forests are more likely to live longer, pay attention better, have stronger ties to their neighbors, and experience a host of other positive benefits.

The bottom line: we should plant trees at every doorstep.

Outputs:

Jiang, B., Larsen, L., Deal, B., & Sullivan, W. C. (2015). A dose–response curve describing the relationship between tree cover density and landscape preference. Landscape and Urban Planning, 139(0), 16-25. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2015.02.018

Jiang, B., Chang, C.Y., & Sullivan, W. C. (2014). A dose of nature: Tree cover, stress reduction, and gender differences. Landscape and Urban Planning, 132(0), 26-36. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2014.08.005

Jiang, B., Li, D., Larsen, L.,Sullivan, W. C.  (2014). A Dose-Response Curve Describing the Relationship Between Urban Tree Cover Density and Self-Reported Stress Recovery. Environment and Behavior. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0013916514552321

Establishing dose-response curves for the impact of urban forests on recovery from acute stress and landscape preference. By Jiang, Bin, Ph.D., UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT URBANA-CHAMPAIGN, 2013, 195 pages; 3632060. http://gradworks.umi.com/36/32/3632060.html

Quotation:

Media reports on this project

http://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-10-d-videos-trees-people-recover.html

http://www.worldhealth.net/news/trees-tranquility/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2802380/is-street-view-secret-relaxing-researchers-watched-3d-video-tree-lined-streets-significantly-improved-state-mind.html

http://www.dailyillini.com/article/2015/04/exposure-to-greenery-could-reduce-stress-levels?mode=jqm

http://news.illinois.edu/news/14/1021nature_WilliamSullivan_BinJiang.html

http://dirt.asla.org/2014/06/04/nature-is-but-another-name-for-health/

http://matome.naver.jp/odai/2138615736343480701

 

Impact of exposure to green spaces and laptop use on students’ cognitive functioning

Title: Impact of exposure to green spaces and laptop use on students’ cognitive functioning

Team: Bin Jiang (PI, Corresponding Author), Rose Schmillen (Co-PI, U of IL), William C. Sullivan (Co-PI, U of IL)

Project Funder: USA Forest Service, Faculty of Architecture seed fund HKU

Abstract: Although many studies have been conducted that demonstrate the restorative affects of green spaces, the conditions of these experiments are controlled in such a way that the participants have no distractions to direct their attention elsewhere. When taking a break from studying or working, many college students do not just sit quietly in a space. Technology is an easy medium to turn to when taking a break, and students may use it to surf the internet, watch TV, or play games. If a student is using technology in a restorative space, does it influence the restorative effects of nature? The goal of this study is to find out if the restorative benefits of being in a green space are in any way compromised by the use of technology, specifically a laptop. If laptop use predicts lower rates of recovery from stress and recovery of the ability to pay attention, then it may influence people to spend more time in nature without technology. However, if people can still recover in a green space more than in a barren space even while using their laptops, it may inspire people to use their computers to take a break in a more restorative space. This study may also give us a glimpse into how technology affects our perception of the world around us.

Based off of what we know about attention restoration, one would suppose that the condition of a restorative green space without the use of technology would be most restorative. The barren space with the use of technology is likely to be least restorative because the environment does not support restoration and the use of technology could itself be mentally fatiguing. The two remaining factors are harder to guess. Is it more beneficial in terms of attention restoration to be in a restorative space with the use of technology or to be in a barren space that is free of technology?

The outcome could also be dependent on what kind of technology is used. If the activity on the laptop requires more directed attention, it would have a greater mentally fatiguing effect, or would make recovery in a restorative space lower. By asking the students to record what kind of activities they engage in on their laptops, we can also analyze the data according to types of applications used.

Through this study, we are learning how to better make recommendations for attention restoration. Is a green space just as restorative with the distraction of technology, or is it less restorative? By conducting this study, we are learning more about the mechanisms behind attention restoration. Is it required that people pay attention to the restorative space, or can restoration work through distraction or other avenues of hard fascination? This study also begins to prompt questions about what kind of activities done in restorative spaces affect attention restoration.