Way says. Again, the team had to combine the client’s general goal with its own expertise as well as
its research on other new Chinese hospitals. In the
end, the team successfully planned and designed a
modern, 2,000-bed facility.
GIVE AND TAKE
The government of Guangzhou, the
third biggest city in China, has under-taken a US$7.5 billion effort to revitalize large swaths of the city, dubbed the
north axis and south axis.
“Our objective was to create a sustainable and livable area for about 500,000
people in Guangzhou, without creating
a negative impact on the surroundings,”
says David Masenten, senior associate,
Heller Manus Architects, the San Francisco, California, USA-based firm that
won the redesign bids.
In 2009, the team began the first
phase: the north axis. “This comprehen-
sive urban core master plan of 2. 4 square
miles [ 6. 2 square kilometers] redesigned
the central business district,” Mr. Masenten says.
The project comprises commercial and residential
buildings, a sports facility, a railway and bus trans-
portation hub and extensive open spaces. With
a completion date of 2025, the south axis has
fewer original features than its counterpart but
more space: 15. 5 square miles (40.1 square kilo-
meters) of the southern city center.
Dealing with existing city structures pre-
sented both opportunities and challenges. “By
choosing not to demol-
ish buildings of suf-
ficient quality, we were
taking a very sustainable
approach of saving the
energy that would be
lost in demolishing and
recycling materials,” Mr.
Masenten says. “How-
ever, most of the existing
buildings on site were not
built to any larger master
plan, thus creating a con-
flict with planning goals
He credits precise planning for the
mitigation of potential risks. “We care-
fully phased the plan to leave some exist-
ing buildings for the short term, while
slating them for eventual removal,” Mr.
Masenten says. “This gives the city time
to re-evaluate the structure and the loca-
tion in the future when the quality and
needs of the building may change.”
While typical Chinese grid systems
cater to cars, not to pedestrians, Mr.
Masenten says, this project had sustainable mobility as one of its core objectives—so Heller Manus had to convince
local stakeholders to think differently. “By
using examples of walkable cities, we were
able to convince local planners to adopt a
much smaller block network—200 to 300
meters [656 to 984 feet] as opposed to 400
to 600 meters [ 1,312 to 1,969 feet] in block
length—which greatly enhances walkabil-ity,” he says.
was to create
area for about
500,000 people in
creating a negative
impact on the
—David Masenten, Heller Manus
Architects, San Francisco, California, USA
A rendering of
Guangzhou’s north axis