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issue 5 - Dec/Jan 2011-12
CURVE magazine cover Dec/Jan 2011-12

Beijing's Feng Tai

Beijing's Feng Tai District


Studio Marco Piva, together with its Chinese Partner DGI DESIGN, were asked to look at Beijing Feng Tai District's future financial center, an area of 16 square kilometers, and suggest ways in which it could be more than the sum of its parts. The proposal made by Studio Marco Piva and DGI DESIGN maximizes land use without sacrificing green space, creating a solution that will make Feng Tai both an international icon and sustainable city of the future. It is a radical new proposal for a city center that works within the existing urban parameters, but creates a new type of living and working environment.

The design team had multiple goals in mind when designing the district. These goals, among others, included creating an iconic architectural context, a socially and economically sustainable living context that is still dynamic and flexible, developing new traffic solutions, developing new living solutions, creating an area which caters to the needs of financial services industry and following the principals of the Twelfth Five Year Plan.

Philosophically, western planners have been working under the assumption that city planning should look at three human modes: live, work and play; while Studio Marco Piva and DGI Design wanted to add two more, 'contribute' and 'fulfill'. Without these so-called 'community' modes, the design team felt that a city would ultimately become collectives for the pursuit of self-interest and pleasure. In fact, furthering their perspective, Studio Marco and DGI strongly urge that in order for cities to be great, they must provide both economic opportunities and an identity, which ideally would inspire pride, a sense of belonging and a desire to contribute, small and large, whether residents refrain from littering or donate to the public library. 'One has only to talk to those who live in New York, London, Paris, Rome, Singapore, Tokyo etc., about their sense of their city, their identification with it, their willingness to contribute and their sense of fulfillment and pride in being a part of it, to understand the value of 'community' explained Studio Marco Piva.

However, these ideas are not new to China, they are in fact part of China's culture and philosophical history. Daoism and Confucianism, refer to them explicitly as part of the hierarchy of societal values and individual virtues. China because of its size and the scale of its development is unique. To be successful, it must embrace its traditional culture and values, balance its present economic social needs and develop new ideas and concepts to address the challenges of its future.

In developing their approach, Studio Marco Piva with DGI Design drew on these assumptions and designed Beijing Feng Tai's financial district to be an area, which addresses the needs of cities and people. Beijing is quickly developing into a tertiary economy, one that uses ideas and knowledge to create economic activity. The essential component to this next phase, as identified in the National and Beijing Five Year Plans, is human resources.

Attracting and retaining talent is the number one goal of every developed economy and this is where Beijing Feng Tai's financial district is being poised to enjoy a high level of success. It will be a vibrant, exciting, livable environment that takes advantage of its natural and historical advantages, balances economic and social needs and provides an efficient, desirable place for talented high value people and their families to live, work, play, contribute and be fulfilled. It will also provide a new model of urban development, which is in line with China's goal of creating a balanced, scientifically sustainable and morally harmonious society.

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