baitasi in layers

Year: 2015
Size: 60 ha
Type: research
Status: /
Location: Beijing, China

Partners in charge: Nicola Saladino, Chen Chen
Design team: Liqun Zhao, Yufeng Zhai, Ruilin Yang, Miguel Esteban Alonso, Miguel Acebron Garcia de Eulate

Like many other hutong areas, Baitasi structure has been radically transformed in the last fifty years, with an uncontrolled densification of the original urban fabric. The traditional courtyard houses have been fragmented into separate living units and the open spaces have been saturated by informal extensions.

These physical transformations have deeply altered the functionality of the neighborhood. In the small scale, the resulting built fabric has very poor conditions of natural light and ventilation; in the larger picture, the amount of public space per inhabitant has drastically dropped, forcing a new relationship between the courtyards and the streets, with the creation of new façade typologies (e.g. the insertion of commercial interfaces) and new functional patterns of occupation during the day (entire street sections are used as parking areas during certain hours or as extensions of restaurants and commercial activities during others).

Starting from a very simple cartography of Baitasi, through the use of computational tools we dag into the layers of information that constitute the core of the site, highlighting problems and spotting out potential areas of intervention. An animation on a TV screen works as a legend, explaining step-by-step the different principles used for the analysis while the results are projected on a physical model of the area. In Baitasi in Layers we explore the morphology and natural conditions of the site, the evolution of its built structure, through the simulation of the movements of the local population and visitors we evaluate the efficiency of the road network and the public transportation system, we evaluate functional intensities in different times of the day, etc.

Our research originates from the understanding that an urban neighborhood is a system in which multiple physical, social and economic variables interact, through complex relationships, creating a series of hidden forces that will influence also its evolution in time. Thus our analysis not only provides a starting point to better understand the context in which urban designers operate, but also potentially offers a constantly updating analytical feedback loop for future interventions.