London-based practice Office for Architectural Culture was recently selected to design the redevelopment masterplan that will include a portion of the Daming Palace Heritage Park -- designed by Australian/Chinese practice IAPA -- in Xi'an, China. Historically rich Xi'an is home to several other UNESCO Heritage Sites including the Daming Park and the infamous terracotta warriors. It was also a significant landmark of the ancient Silk Road.
Led by OAC Design Director and Founder Charles Phu, his team's mixed-use masterplan aims to integrate part of the Daming Palace Heritage Park, the early 20th-century Dahua Wool Spinning Factory, surrounding neighborhoods, and to also create bigger green urban spaces.
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"In OAC’s design proposal, the core area of the project, which will be the first phase to be developed, is an area of approximately 580,000m2. It has a mixture of developments including culture-themed retail, galleries, class-A corporate offices, creative offices and live-work studios, two five-star hotels, apartments and large public outdoor spaces. A 12,000m2 Silk Road Museum is proposed, part of which falls in the Daming Palace Heritage Park. The museum will form a centre and platform for cultural exchange across Eurasian continents, along with an adjacent area where bi-annual global expo events showcasing cultures and art will be held."
"OAC’s winning scheme adopts an approach of maximising urban green space and verticalising public realms into layers. Its architectural solution ties Daming Palace Heritage Park, Dahua Wool Spinning Factory, and the surrounding areas together."
"Charles Phu, Design Director and Founder of OAC, explains: 'At the beginning of [the] design process we realised that this urban regeneration project, because it includes part of the Daming Palace Site, meant a profound responsibility for the architect to integrate the urban, historical, cultural and archaeological contexts and transform this into a liveable environment. So, how to address both the macro and micro scales of the regeneration became a key to our concept.
Our response connects the medieval Tang Dynasty’s civilisation, Silk Road/Eurasian culture and influences, last century’s industrial achievements, the present and the future. Whilst aiming to bring the site’s already world-famous status to the next level, I believe that it is even more important to encourage people to interact and enjoy a socially and culturally sustainable, human-friendly urban environment by breaking down the scales of buildings and spaces and providing freedom of movement and experience to pedestrians.'"
"The design proposal also includes a 300-metre tower. This follows in the tradition of beacon towers which once helped way finding along the Silk Road and, by providing multiple storeys for offices and apartments, will release area around it for public realm and low-density, pedestrian-friendly environments and buildings. The tower will also accommodate a series of sky garden lobbies and an observation deck."
"The urban structures of the regeneration areas in OAC’s designs refer to the principles of primeval settlements, which can still be found in many villages and towns across Eurasia. 'People, not vehicles, should be the master of the place where they live, work and play. Our aim is to counteract the wide-spread trend of urban developments dominated by cars. I knew this would be a big challenge for Xi’an as well as for China and many major cities around the world but I believe that, in order to construct something, you sometimes need to ‘break the rules’ and challenge trends. It is not only about the grand vision; it is about human wellbeing. It is more than a design or urban issue; it is a social, human issue', says Charles Phu."
OAC Project Design Team:
Design Director: Charles Phu
Management Director: Roger Whiteman
Project Leader: Dr. Chiara Occhipinti
Project Team: Paul Browning, Bianca Procino, Nana Ayisi, Victoria Yusypova, Yana Petrova, Lucie Sejkorová, Martin Stočes, Emanuele Pelligra, Salvatore Panasia
Images courtesy of Office for Architectural Culture.
More images in the thumbnail gallery below.
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