- Zhengzhou is a city centrally located in Zhongyuan, or Central Plain, at the crossing of Beijing and Shenzhen on its north-south axis and Shanghai and Xi’an on the east-west axis. It is the capital of Henan, the largest province in China with a population of 100 million, after the capital was relocated from Kaifeng in 1954. A plan for a new city for several million residents called “Zhengdong Area” is currently underway in a historical district on the east side. Within Zhengdong New District, “Longhu Area CBD Sub Center” has been planned as floating circular islands in Longhu Lake by Arata Isozaki, in progress since 2010.
- For Parazzo Bembo exhibition in Venice, 2012, planning of Zhengdong Area and Longhu Area CBD Sub Center are showcased in three rooms under the themes of VISITORS, SIGNATURES, and SOCIAL NETWORK. The VISITORS room displays the overlapping of infrastructure, water networks and information called “Genesis of a City” situated in Zhengdong Area. In the SIGNATURES room, spatial conditions generated by series of buildings and infrastructures floating on a circular island on Longhu Lake are exhibited. SOCIAL NETWORK room brings focus to the potential variety of events to take place on the water at the center of the circular island.
- Most importantly the three rooms were titled VISITORS, SIGNATURES, and SOCIAL NETWORK, taking after Mirage City exhibition by Isozaki in 1997 (SOCIAL NETWORK was then titled INTERNET), and are subject to constant change as indefinite anonymous visitors participate in the exhibition. The rooms exhibited in Venice, while accepting visitors’ interventions, uncover possibilities for open city planning. Fifteen years after Mirage City and half a century after Incubation Process/ Joint Core System, Venice – where Mirage City was first exhibited – remarkably serves as the ground for Isozaki to reveal the concept of an open city planning unfolding in a new site.
- GENESIS OF A CITY
- The Zhengdong district is situated between the cities of Zhengzhou and Kaifeng. The Yellow River flows along the north side of the district, and there is a well-developed network of waterways, including many canals dating from the Northern Sung period when they were extended from Kaifeng. This area has long been the intersection between north-south and east-west routes across China, so it also has comprehensive road and rail networks. These and other networks provide the foundation for clusters of urban development currently taking form at several places in the Zhengdong district.
- Drawing from these urban characteristics, the Visitors Room gives an overall perspective of Zhengzhou/Zhengdong New Town/Kaifeng. Set in the center of the room is a model of the entire city of several million people. The wall behind the model depicts the Yellow River, the Great Wall, and the horizon, providing an abstract representation of the whole of China spreading out from the Central Plain. What this room simulates is the genesis of a city. Networks provide the foundations: Water (network of natural resources), transportation (network of man-made resources), and information (networking with others). The genesis of a city in network form emerges as these three layers extend and overlap.
- “The city itself is the process of change. The genesis of a city has no beginning and no end. Time continues without interruption, and the figure of the city that emerges is sometimes a future city, sometimes ruins.” (Incubation Process)
- SPATIAL CONSTRUCTION
- The CBD sub-center set in Longhu, the Dragon Lake, is designed to be a closed urban space, independent of its surroundings, much like Venice. On the island’s outer perimeter is a series of office towers and hotels, with heights standardized at 120 m. In its center is a lake, surrounded by arena-like commercial and cultural facilities set around the island’s inner perimeter. The architecture that functions as a symbol for this sub-center is the 240 m Twin Tower and City Gate, positioned to straddle the waterway that runs north-south across the island. A central loop road section is designed to link together these groups of buildings, with urban infrastructure such as utility ducts and the transit system segregated in separate layers. The urban infrastructure and architecture is planned as a unified “megastructure,” thereby forming a framework for the urban space throughout the CBD sub-center.
- Drawing from these urban characteristics, the Signatures Room exhibits the architecture and infrastructure facilities to be constructed on the donut-shaped island on Longhu. Skyscrapers are to be constructed on the outer ring, with 14 examples of such architecture to be designed by eight international architecture firms. The firms involved are SANAA, Studio Mumbai Architects, Asymptote Architecture, Klotz Asociados, ISOZAKI +Hu Qian Partners, Eduardo Souto De Moura, Ensamble Studio, and Christian Kerez Zurich AG. Their design work is already well under way, so the 1/500 model at the venue uses acrylic to represent the outer ring area. This implies that although the designs for the outer ring are largely complete, the architectural designs for the inner ring still need to be fixed. Each of the participating firms is allocated a specific area, and asked to provide a design for the site, with the only constraint being that it must meet certain rules concerning floor area ratios and setback lines. As the exhibition progresses, the architecture for the inner ring will gradually be replaced by designs signed by the architects, demonstrating the construction of an urban space.
- TEMPORAL PROCESS
- In development plans for the CBD sub-center, the lake in the middle is portrayed as a water-based festival plaza. Seasonal events are to be held here. Devices are positioned around the lake to enhance the experience. The arena-like commercial facilities have spaces on the top for spectators, forming a ring around the lake, and the City Gate provides VIP seating and facilities on the south side. There are also plans for 120 m towers at the centers of the two circles that define the lake, designed as performance devices for use during events. Barges moored on the north side of the lake can be used as movable stages, enabling a range of different stage setups to be produced. The different events that can be produced using all these devices give rhythm to urban life, functioning as part of the software that plays a part in forming the city.
- Drawing from these urban characteristics, the Social Network room focuses on the oval area of water in the center of the island on Long Hu, the Dragon Lake. The oval has two circles inscribed within it. The oval and the centers of the two circles are visible straight ahead as you enter the dark room. Ideas and proposals sent over the Internet are put into visual form and appear in order from right and left. As if attracted by magnetism, the ideas are pulled into the fields generated by the circles, crashing into each other and fighting to accomplish change.
- The events held here, and the way that the city changes along with the events demonstrate the process of time, becoming a performance at the exhibition site. Inspired by the historical stories of “hunting deer in the Central Plain,” and reminiscent of the way that great heroes fought their battles in the Central Plain, the process is made visible through the process of gamification of events on the water –global participation in an open web based game. The information received is all converted by a specific program and forwarded to the exhibition site. Consequently, information from around the world is gathered for urban planning in Zhengzhou, and as the various ideas collide and interfere, newly-emergent designs result. Ideas from differing categories may well become intertwined and linked together. Unpredictable events driven by the ideas of an indeterminate number of people emerge in the form of light at the exhibition site. The Run after Deer game on the water is open to all comers. Results accumulate, and should eventually crystallize.