Politecnico di Torino
Politecnico di Torino
Politecnico di Torino
Academic Year 2013/14
Beijing brownfields. Urban regeneration and redevelopment of abandoned industrial sites in China
Master of science-level of the Bologna process in Architecture Construction City - Torino
Teacher Status SSD Les Ex Lab Tut Years teaching
Berta Mauro ORARIO RICEVIMENTO RC ICAR/14 80 0 0 40 1
Bottero Marta Carla ORARIO RICEVIMENTO O2 ICAR/22 60 0 0 30 1
De Pieri Filippo ORARIO RICEVIMENTO A2 ICAR/18 30 0 0 15 1
Barello Luca ORARIO RICEVIMENTO     30 0 0 15 1
SSD CFU Activities Area context
B - Caratterizzanti
C - Affini o integrative
C - Affini o integrative
B - Caratterizzanti
Progettazione architettonica e urbana
Discipline estimative per l'architettura e l'urbanistica
Subject fundamentals
The Design Unit is related to a more general research framework established between the Polytechnic of Turin and the Tsinghua University in Beijing, started with an yearly international workshop – the "Joint Studio" - and now included in a Sino-Italian research platform titled "Memory | Regeneration", which has been focused - since its beginning – on urban regeneration themes, involving abandoned industrial areas.
It is easy to understand, therefore, that the Design Unit forms a part of a wider research and didactic program, concentrated on the Chinese city and – most of all – on the growing cultural debate about the preservation of the industrial heritage in China. The choice of a so far case study – not only from a geographical point of view but also from the cultural, historical, social, political and economical ones – is not occasional, but it is meant to open an interdisciplinary terrain of comparison with one of the most rapidly changing societies in the world. These changes, concerning indeed many aspects, like economy, industry, development politics etc., are affecting significantly the urban transformations and the character itself of the existing city, especially in regard to the refurbishment of large disused areas inside the urban fabric, abandoned by the continuous transformations of the production economy; and this subject is assuming in the last years more and more importance in the Chinese cultural debate.
China, in other words, is now facing a process which is comparable, to a certain extent, to the "modification" that European countries, and in particular Italy, experienced already by the ‘80s of the XXth century, when the more visible face of the deindustrialization process became rapidly that of the huge industrial relics survived within the growing city; a process that, in the western culture, gave rise to a conspicuous branch of research with different – ad in some cases opposite – outcomes.
Using the Italian and European experience as an argument for a cultural exchange with comparable Chinese situations doesn’t mean, therefore, neither to "export" simply some closed critic positions and a consolidated know how in a different reality, nor to run just a recognition of the achieved and ongoing transformations. It means rather to exploit the peculiarities of the Chinese reality to redefine once more the topic, bringing into collision, in the design activity, very different positions, like the push for radical conservation, the economic evaluations of the transformation scenarios, the role of the refurbishment projects within the more general processes of urban regeneration etc.
The area chosen for the design experimentation is the former mechanical factory site of Shougang-Ertong, located in the western outskirts, in the Shijingshan district, at about 15 km from the city centre of Beijing and at about 2 km from the huge former steel factory of Shougang, originally part of the same industrial group.
The General Plan of the city determines that the neighborhood of Shijingshan, which will be linked to the city centre with the underground in the next years, is meant to become in a near future a "Central Recreation District", with facilities for service industry and leisure; in this framework the Ertong site (whose factories occupy an area of about 84 ha) has been identified as the core of a pilot operation of urban regeneration.
The whole site is characterized by a sizeable number of productive relics (buildings, chimneys, machines etc.), whose dimensions are in some cases monumental, and by an abundant presence of infrastructures, representing a physical trace of the original functioning of the factory. It is suitable therefore for a design experimentation whose ambition is to reflect on the valorization of the historic memory and its rapport with the conservation of the physical objects, as well as on the processes of selection and reinterpretation of the industrial heritage.
Expected learning outcomes
In addition to communicating a precise technical knowledge, the Design Unit aims for transmitting a methodology of work, whose rationale is the ability of communicating one’s own ideas in a clear and synthetic way and – at the same time – the willingness to challenge them continuously.
The critic readings and the in-depth analysis, which will be done during the lessons, will be aimed to get the students used to make a kind of "thick description" of the design theme, which means to place it in a precise cultural, historical, social and economic context.
For what it concerns the economic evaluation, at the end of the course the students will be able to identify the effects produced by the planned intervention on the territorial and socio-economic systems, in the context of regulatory-prescribing and technical effects. Moreover the students will learn to perform the measurement of those effects by means of specific evaluation methodologies.
A first part of the D.U. will be dedicated to the construction of a critic identification of the theme (especially with the contribution of the History of Architecture, with Prof. De Pieri); this activity will be done - in addition to an analysis on the intervention area and its surroundings - by means of a series of readings about the Chinese city in general and about Beijing in particular. The students will be asked: to learn to recognize the peculiarities of the urban forms, the historical ones as well as the more recent ones; to read Beijing’s urban space as the result of a stratification of processes, representations and practices, led by different actors; to investigate the modalities how the conservation, memory and reuse topics are influencing the more recent transformations of the Chinese city, reformulating and challenging at the same time some consolidated images of the urban heritage, systematized in the western culture. In this phase therefore a widespread study on the city will be done, whose results will provide some elements of knowledge to make aware and pondered design choices in the assigned area.
The envisaged hypothesis of transformation will be supported since the beginning of the course by a feasibility study on the conceived scenarios (Prof. Bottero) which will allow a confrontation among the different design options. The students will be asked to examine, in a general territorial e socio-economic framework, different alternatives, which will be verified by means of economic-financial detailed analysis such as Costs/Benefits Analysis etc.
Another topic of interest will be the concept of landscape in the Asian and Chinese culture, with a particular reference to the garden as an autonomous microcosm; with the contribution of the Landscape Architecture instruments (Prof. Barello), the composition and the cultural implications of the eastern garden will be explored as a potential tool to shape the urban form.
In the first weeks the students – gathered in larger groups – will work on a masterplan for the whole area; in a second phase they will work in small groups, developing each one a part of the general plan at the architectural scale.

Programma definitivo per l'A.A.2013/14

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