THE FUTURE CITY: PARASITIC RETAIL URBANISM
STUDIO: thesis, retail urbanism
YEAR: five (5)
DATE: spring, 2012
DESIGN LENGTH: three (3) months
SUPPORT: alvin huang (principal, synthesis design + architecture)
PROJECT SITE: shanghai world expo 2011 post-development site, china
PROGRAM: retail typologies, infrastructure, nodal programs, public space
The Future City: Parasitic Retail Urbanism examines the post-Shanghai expo 2011 site condition within the context of China as an emerging superpower, specifically in the realm of global retail consumption. The proposal is considered as a field condition: where physical, social, and economic forces produce various intensities, gradients, and differentiations which highlight the site as a continuously changing condition rather than one defined by singularities and uniformities.
The site is organized according to isopotential flow lines, derived from repulsor points (i.e. subway and ferry infrastructural stops that eject population) and attractor nodal programs (that attract population). The pencil tower typology (so often found in China) of offices and housing provide the instant density required to activate the emergence of an 'instant city' on the site, and in turn fuel the parasitic nature of retail growth that is projected on the site. Parallel, this retail growth is based on a cluster of aggregations highly dependent on the existing and proposed programmatic nodal epicenters proposed in the 5 sectors (finance, education, culture, entertainment, convention) on the site - sectors that make up this mega-Machine, city-within-a-city site.
This parasitic condition of retail challenges the future of retail typologies in the 21st century and beyond by taking the traditional and outdated 'dumbbell' retail scheme (found in our malls today) and re-proposes it as a continuous, 3-dimentional, elevated multi-nodal dumbbell network that aggregates around the public programs of a city. After all, 'retail circulation' is at its most basic form a last bastion of true public space, and this public space is elevated in multiples levels off the ground plane to free the pedestrian traveler from the confines of vehicular and heavy infrastructural traffic.
As Koolhaas stated in his pamphlet The Harvard Design School guide to Shopping
, "shopping is melting into everything, everything is melting into shopping" and this masterplan proposal extrapolates this concept to an almost dystopian level, arguing that retail is in fact the lifeblood of the city: the infrastructural connective tissue that parasitically bonds all functions of the contemporary metropolis - live, work and play.
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