Urban Planning: Envisioning The Future of Work

Zhejiang Hangzhou Future Sci-Tech City (Haichuang Park)

PROJECT

Partner/Architecture Client: Zhejiang University (ZJU) Architecture Studio

Site: Zhejiang Hangzhou Future Sci-Tech City (Haichuang Park), Zhejiang Overseas High-Level Talents Innovations Center

Design Process and Deliverables

CONTEXT:

Haichuang Park is an important node in Hangzhou Chenxi Sci-Tech & Innovation Cluster Area. The first phase of Haichuang Park is already in use. The plan of the second phase is to upgrade infrastructure and introduce multi-use urban programs in order to attract technology firms to invest in this area. It is from this second phase that the project site was selected and the proposal was developed.

 

Our job was to envision the next stage in a central business district set off from the city center of Hangzhou. The master plan should capture the future of work - 20 years into the future. Teams were challenged to be innovative, imaginative, and extremely forward-thinking.

 

MULTIDISCIPLINARY INTERNATIONAL TEAM: 

Our team was made up of two sub-teams: design strategy and architecture.

Architecture team: five senior ZJU architecture students

Design strategy team: myself, an Environmental Psych master's student with a background in investment analysis; an Italian Architecture Ph.D. student; and a Project Manager for Cornell Facilities (and M.Sc. candidate) with a background in construction.

 

LESSONS LEARNED: 

This project was the catalyst for significant personal and professional growth.

Language: Of the architecture team, only one student was able to speak intermediate English. I had to overcome significant language barriers, translating concepts using metaphors, drawings, and visuals while being mindful of my clarity, pace, idioms, and cultural interpretations. Where other groups found frustration, our team actually had a bit of fun cultivating a shared meaning in Chinese, Italian, and English. 

 

Strategy Consulting:  Design strategy was a new concept for our Chinese architect counterparts, so it was a challenge to make sure our research and programming materialized in their schematics. I learned how to assert the value of evidence-based strategy, to integrate strategy into programming, and to operationalize the programming by creating translational tools that made sense and were useful to the architects. The integration of the design strategy in the final architectural plans was a factor on which the projects were judged. 

Report Excerpts

Excerpt from report: concept and business case.

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Excerpt from report: site orientation and spatial strategy.

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Excerpt from report: programming operationalization.

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Excerpt from report: concept and business case.

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Programmatic Tools

Based off of our analysis of the data, trends, drivers, and comparable sites we developed a concept to drive the site plan, as well as an integrative framework to inform the site plan. We used a variety of methods to translate from concept to programming to design. These tools were developed over the course of the project. Our strategy of using a variety of medium to convey meaning was borne out of a necessity to communicate across both cultural and disciplinary languages. Samples of the framework and translational tools are shown below. 

A dual compass strategy. One compass informs the functional spatial strategy while the other informs the qualitative feel of the park via in-between spaces. They overlay each other and the site to inform the programming and design.

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The compass overlain on the site map reveals six zones, which guide the site planning.

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Cross sections were another tool we used to communicate the spatial strategy and design.

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A dual compass strategy. One compass informs the functional spatial strategy while the other informs the qualitative feel of the park via in-between spaces. They overlay each other and the site to inform the programming and design.

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Qualitative and Quantitative Research

Our research and strategy development process included excavation of literature, case studies, and a trove of user behavior, survey, and comparable site data. Samples of data and insights are shown below. 

We synthesized a variety of data to arrive at a comprehensive profile of our anticipated users, both primary and proximal.

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Some of the data provided by ZJU: time-based population metrics for the adjacent site.

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Traffic and public transportation were considerable factors in developing the site master plan.

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We synthesized a variety of data to arrive at a comprehensive profile of our anticipated users, both primary and proximal.

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Studio Book

The above project was completed during my time in the Workplace Strategies Studio at Cornell; it was the inaugural year of a three-year collaboration between Cornell and Zhejiang Universities. The next year, I became the Graduate Teaching Assistant for the course where I designed a studio book (template and content) to showcase the ongoing joint-studio. In addition to selecting, arranging, and formatting content, I complimented the collection with essays and reviews to place the studio work in context. I taught myself how to use InDesign so that I could create a professional looking studio book that could be easily edited by future classes and presented both physically and digitally. 

The studio book was both a reflection of year 1 of the joint-studio as well as a template for the review of the remaining 2 years of the collaboration.

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I conducted research and wrote essays on the history and contemporary relevance of workplace strategy to augment the featured projects.

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There was a strong relationship between the concept strategy and the architectural outcomes.

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The studio book was both a reflection of year 1 of the joint-studio as well as a template for the review of the remaining 2 years of the collaboration.

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