Ideas | Blog

06, 2013



One, City Features And Style Positioning

Los Angeles Spanish style, English colonial style in New York, Montreal French style, all of these reflect their city's history from one perspective, but also well adapted to the local climatic and ecological conditions.  These cases tell us, ingrained cultural traditions of each city is really its biggest characteristic source, we should spend more energy and time strengthening and improving the tradition, instead of imitating the monotonous international and modern styles, only in this way can we gradually formed our own unique characteristics of city.

1.1 The Los Angeles Spanish Style

In southern California, the climate is dry, sunny, therefore suitable for Spanish architecture with bright colors and large window surface. The overall building of Los Angeles is mainly styled as Spanish tone, and make it simplified improved to some extent, forming a unique style of southern California.

1.2 New York's British Colonial Style

New York's old buildings is based on the earliest English architecture, which was adapted to the local relatively cold, damp climate conditions. The overall architectural style is sincere, and formed the new England colonial style after the overall improvement.

1.3 Montreal's French Style

When the Frenchmen dwelled in Montreal  and reigned over it over a long period of time, they bring the French architectural romance and rules into the region, as we see the solemn and elegant of the buildings in the old port district, and fairy tales of Mont Tremblant Village can’t leave the French stylish culture rooted here alone.

Two, Humanity  OF Street Scale

New York street is distributed with strict grid layout, street from east to west, road from south to north. On the one hand, the model provided very clear position to the city residents and foreign tourists, so that they’re not easy to lose their directions; on the other hand, the whole street is with blocks of appropriate scale, basically using the scales of 70*200 meters. This makes the entire island of Manhattan very suitable for walking, east-west continuous business interface was formed, and a north-south fast traffic access was realized.

Although there are more than 5000skyscrapers in Manhattan Island with a population of nearly 30000 each square kilometer, which is the world's highest population density region. While the whole urban traffic organization was arranged in an orderly way, the congestion phenomenon is far way from the degree of that in Beijing or Shanghai. This is beneficial to the street of high density (Road area covers about ¼ of the city), highly sophisticated traffic control (all of the streets are one-way, flow control, high parking fees) and convenient public transport (there is a subway station island in average every two blocks).

And although Los Angeles is a low density urban sprawl, but the density of the streets is very large, the scale is also more pleasant. Especially in the important city core area, the street scale  of the shopping and leisure zone is small, most predominately in 2-4 lane. The streets density and spatial scales provided a good basis for traffic and crowd walking organization.

Three, Retain The Old Heritage

The high line Park is a linear sky-garden located in Manhattan, which was an originally built railway freight special line connecting the meatpacking district with Hudson port of thirty-four Street in 1930, retired after winning the merit in 1980, once facing with demolition danger. Under the strong protection of New York FHL organization, the high line park eventually get survived, and built a unique g air corridor garden, winning the social economic benefits for New York, and become the model of international design and reconstruction. This project not only retained the abandoned railroad, but also inherited the memories of the city, stimulating the further update of the surrounding old buildings. It keeps the memories and meanwhile become a unique city card of New York.

The 10 km long waterfront renovation project in Toronto is historically composed of a large number of factories and warehouses poses related to ports. How to deal with these old factories is an important issue. The government of Toronto established the waterfront development agency, making the overall transformation of this region. The buildings and warehouses left in 1920s were renovated into the fashionable restaurants and shopping centre. One brick-made factory was transformed into an art gallery. And the winery existed two hundred years ago  was developed into a stylish bars catering shopping district, which becomes the city landmark. These old architectures or a combination of the old and new buildings form the most attractive elements, witnessing the memories and histories of the city, the respect for the past, and at the same time experiencing the concordances of the city itself.

Four, The Sustainability Of Urban Construction

Unlike the novelties of many domestic urban constructions, what we see a lot in the northern America is the respect and retain of the original ecology.  It’s drought with little rain in Los Angeles, therefore, what we see is a large number of domestic local drought resistant flowers and shrubs. Although, we can’t feel the modern atmosphere of metropolis in Los Angeles, we can fully realize the integration of the local landscape plants and its environment. Vancouver is situated at the higher latitude, while it’s rainy and humid for the sake of the Pacific ocean currents, so we can see the rich levels of the city vegetation. Particularly impressive is that a large number of  trees about hundreds of years, or even thousands of years in the city are seen everywhere, and the entire city is in the big garden.

The waterfront belt development of Toronto, who takes the environment protection and sustainable development into consideration remains fresh in our memories. At the water inlet where the city tributary Ton River flows into the Ontario River, due to the storms converge and its pollutions, easily causing the water pollution of Ontario lake. Therefore, forming a comprehensive rainwater management project. First of all, they collected the city rainwater into the canal and created an artificial wetland for public purification, so as to make the water resources used effectively and reduce the pollution of the lake. This project integrated the engineer, landscape and public art together, on one hand, put the water pollution under control, on the other hand the environmental project is artistry treated with landscape, so that the region has become a unique landscape area.

Note: The author Yu Chang is the senior urban/landscape designer, executive director of MYP Construction Consulting Co. Ltd., the master of urban design in Harvard University and urban planning in Tongji University, having professional learning and practice of more than ten years of experience in Asia and the United States.