Typical Chinese Block
In the urbanization in China in the recent decades, the size of an urban block begins from approximately 500x500 meters. These so-called mega-blocks are the outcome of an automobile-oriented planning and necessitated by the tendency for fast development. However, when livability is at concern, the over-scale of urban block reduces people’s walkability in the city and cuts off the connections between communities as well as between residential quarters and social-public amenities and cultural facilities. Environmentally, this type of urbanization produces high-carbon cities.
When commissioned to design a high-tech industrial park in the district of Jiading in Shanghai, we take it as an opportunity to adjust the scales of urban spaces, specifically blocks and streets, aiming at achieving a more appropriate density and a more friendly neighborhood. We set the dimensions of a block at 40x40 meters with a 10-meter wide street between blocks. Each block is occupied by a single building with a unique architectural design although every building has a 3-meter wide covered walkway wrapped around the ground level, echoing the traditional practice of Qilou (colonnade over sidewalk), to facilitate pedestrians, especially during days with rain or excessive sun, and to generate more interaction with the buildings and the streets. The mini-block urban design approach also enforces the completeness of street-walls without setbacks and restores a sense of the city fabric as a result. FCJZ designed 22 blocks. The rest are designed by other architects’ firms by following the guidelines produced by us.