ACHIEVING REN CHI IN PUBLIC SPACES: DESIGN FROM THE BOTTOM UP 打造人气空间:自下而上的设计理念

What kinds of public spaces contribute the most to building memorable and attractive cities? As landscape architects, a large portion of our practice focuses on ecology, natural processes, and material performances. The global urban age is happening at a dizzying pace and scale, and with a diversity and complexity that challenges traditional design paradigms. Weaving human purposes into natural systems frameworks, we ideally tackle the urgent challenges of today by creating highly attractive places that provide unique spatial experiences and authentic regional identities.

对于印象深刻且富于吸引力的城市环境打造,什么样的公共空间能起到至关重要的作用呢?作为一个景观设计师,传统的工作重心主要集中在对生态环境、自然生长过程与材料功能的研究。而全球城市化正以惊人的速度和尺度不断推进,从而形成前所未有的人文社群多样性与复杂性,对传统的设计定式提出了新的挑战。面对这一急待解决的问题,我们需要通过创造极富吸引力的场所来为人们提供独特的环境体验与纯正的区域性特质空间,将人类的活动和社群文脉与需求融入自然系统的框架中。

Buffalo Bayou Promenade - Bill Tatham 5197.jpg
Buffalo Bayou Promenade – Bill Tatham 5197.jpg

Building celebrated and socially enduring public space requires having a deep understanding of what creates livability and popularity, as well as working within a culturally specific framework to embrace the needs of contemporary cities.

创建既深受社区居民喜爱,又能对社区演变产生长远影响的公共空间,就需要在深刻理解什么元素可以创建宜居环境并吸引大众参与的同时,以特定的文化背景为设计框架,满足现代都市生活的各种需求。

The term “Ren Chi” describes the kind of space with a prominent quality of vitality and life energy. Translated from Chinese characters, 人气, 人(REN) means humanity or people, while 气 (CHI) means air, with an extended meaning of spirit, or life energy in Daoist philosophy. Spaces with Ren Chi are known for the “life “energy” radiating from people’s activities there. Although not necessarily constructed with expensive materials or including iconic architectural landmarks, these places are highly effective in attracting people to stay, and in delivering the experience of being part of the culture and urban dynamics.

“人气”这一概念描述的是一种以环境活力与生命能量为主导特征的空间场所。这一词汇的中文原意分为“人”、“气”两部分。其中“人”指人类或人群,“气”指空气,进而引申为精神和场所活力。具有“人气”的空间场所充满由人们的活动形成的“生命活力”。虽然不一定使用昂贵的材料建造,或具备豪华醒目的建筑地标,这些场所却可以有效地吸引人群驻足停留,感受到身为都市动态系统与区域文化体系一份子的独特体验。

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(Comparison Diagrams of Bottom Up Design and Top Down Design, Graphics by Patrick Sunbury)

Why have many designers failed to create Ren Chi in their work? First, the absence of a liberal arts and social science methodology in the design process, including contextual research, post-occupancy analysis, and a set of tools from psychology and even neuroscience. Second, prevalent professional tendencies of our age place emphasis on individual and isolated actions, and seldom address the shared ideas and continuity among different pieces and disciplines. As William “Holly” Whyte once advocated in his sociology research for public space design, people should use “a new way of designing public spaces—one that is bottom-up, not top-down.” Using his approach, “design should start with a thorough understanding of the way people use spaces, and the way they would like to use spaces.” Through understanding the social DNA, designers should consider an organizing system that is flexible and adaptive enough to contain everyday life energy, which is spontaneous, non-institutional, and even disordered.

为什么许多设计师在他们的项目中未能创造出这样的人气空间呢?首先是因为在设计过程中缺乏对环境背景调研、用后体验分析等人文艺术与社会科学研究方法的认识,也没有掌握一套包括环境心理学,甚至是神经科学方面的辅助研究工具。其次,当今专业研究领域的重心更倾向于探讨单个与独立的问题,而很少涉及对不同方面与不同学科之间共通的理念与连续性进行的深入研究。正如William “Holly” Whyte在其关于公共空间设计的社会学研究著作中提出的,人们应该用“一种新的设计思路处理公共空间的设计,即一种自下而上的思路,而不是自上而下的思路”。采用这种思路就意味着“设计应从对人们目前如何使用空间以及未来希望如何使用空间的深入理解出发。”通过对这种社会DNA的理解,设计师应研究如何体现一种灵活的、自发的、非制度甚至是无序的公共空使用方式,从这些信息来组织设计系统,以提供足够的适应性,容纳日常生活的各种行为,保障活力。

How can the idea of Ren Chi be observed, measured, and developed? The theoretical framework would be built on the observations and arguments of sociology, environmental psychology, economics, and policy making. We modern-day city builders face the challenge of developing a set of design criteria for public spaces that promote Ren Chi, taking into account such issues as density, diversity, flexibility, informality, social inclusivity, and the area’s regional identity. Once the social DNA of the context is decoded, forms need to perform well under such guidance and offer an instrumental physical conduit to promote people’s usage. In this way, we may begin to deliver more happy urban living experiences that are legible through the presence of Ren Chi.

如何观察、衡量并开发人气呢?其理论框架应建立在社会学、环境心理学、经济学与政策制定方面的观察与研讨基础上。我们作为现代都市的建造者,面临的挑战是如何开发出一套公共空间的设计准则,以集聚人气,并兼顾密度、多元化、灵活性、非正式性、社会包容、区域特质等方面的考量。一旦破解了背景环境中的社会DNA,空间形态应在这一指导原则下,满足各种功能需求,提供大为辅助的空间途径,鼓励人们在其中享受各种活动。这样我们才能通过人气的凝聚造就更多美好的都市生活体验。

Guided by desired objective, rather than a set of prescribed physical outcomes, the Ren Chi design allows a variety of innovative place making solutions. Good Ren Chi spaces can be described by many prominent qualities, including but not limited to the following:

  • Highly popular and supportive to variety of activities
  • Well accessible from surrounding neighborhoods and major places
  • Enhance a sense of place and culture characters of the region
  • Human scale, spatial dimension reflect enough density, avoiding oversized public spaces that look empty when not in use
  • Socially inclusive, inviting, and encouraging interactions
  • With a comfortable microclimate of balanced sun and shade
  • With user-friendly and lasting site furniture
  • Emotionally uplifting, inspiring and delightful
  • Informal and flexible, allow users to rearrange the space when needed

在目标确定后,人气设计过程涉及的场所打造可以采纳多种创新措施,而不拘泥于某些既定的空间形态产物。好的人气空间具备很多场所特质,包括但不限于下列:

  • 具有亲和力并支持多种活动项目的发生
  • 从周边区域到达的良好通达性
  • 可以提升场所归属感并彰显区域文化特征
  • 人性尺度,空间紧凑具备足够密度感,无人时不过于空旷
  • 社群包容性强,鼓励参与和使用者之间的交流
  • 具有舒适的微气候 – 均衡场地中阴影和阳光的配比
  • 具有方便使用并持续耐用的场地家具
  • 启发性、清新可喜、并可提升人的情感体验
  • 非正式、灵活开放特点许可使用者对于空间的重新安排和组织

PUBLIC SPACE PROJECT CASE STUDY 人气项目案例研究

CASE STUDY ONE: 案例一

CITY NAME CARD – CULTURE PLAZA OF NANHAI THOUSAND LANTERN LAKE PARK SYSTEM (PUBLIC PROJECT, BUILT) 

都市文化名片 – 南海千灯湖水公园二期之文化广场 (公共,建成)

One of the successful RenChi Place Making examples is Nanhai Thousand Lantern Lake’s Culture Plaza, which was built as an important public space for the phase two of Lantern Lake Park System. Designed as an event space with stage for local festivals and outdoor opera performance, the plaza also accommodated daily recreational and social activities through negotiating the scale, micro climate, site furniture, shelter space and its attractive water edge. Culture Plaza is now a year-around popular land mark among many local parks and squares.

一个十分成功的人气场所打造案例是南海千灯湖公园的文化广场,其建设是千灯湖公园体系的第二期中的一个重点公共场所。虽然设计的原目标是创造一处带有舞台的户外戏剧观演和节日庆典场所,文化广场的设计还是重复考虑了日常使用的休闲和社交活动需求:在尺度把控、微气候调节、场地家具、廊架空间和滨湖边界的处理上吸引人的驻留和使用。时至今日,文化广场是当地公园体系中一处全年受欢迎的人气地标。

Kylin Board

culture plaza diagram

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diagram_CULTURE PLAZA

Thousand Lantern Lake Park System was selected as one of the two winners of the 2015 ULI Urban Open Space Award

近日美国城市土地学会(ULI)在旧金山举办了城市土地学会秋季会议,会议揭晓了2015年全球城市开放空间大奖。佛山市南海区千灯湖公园和美国俄克拉荷马城万木花园两个项目在众多竞选项目中脱颖而出, 并列第一,获得该项大奖. 这里是千灯湖公园的视频

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(Video by Jonnu Singleton)

CASE STUDY TWO: 案例二

URBAN NOSTALGIA – HUIZHOU THOUSAND FLOWER ISLAND COMMUNITY (RESIDENTIAL, CONCEPTUAL DESIGN)

记得起乡愁的城市楼盘 – 惠州千花岛 项目(居住类,概念设计)

Not all public space sites are located in dense and vibrant population center that helps to make attracting RenChi much easier. For a regular landscape project that aims to create an attractive outdoor experience with some public ownership, and observed RenChi, what should be the measures to take in order to draw people outside and interact with others? RenChi space design solutions have a lot to offer in decoding the social DNA of certain region, spatial programming and creating user-friendly outdoor rooms that are interesting and meaningful to people’s daily lives. Thousand Flower Island is a typical high-rise residential development located in a South China town called Huizhou. With booming economy and vast scale housing development, the city is largely considered of losing culture heritage connection during it fast urbanization in past 30 years. Known for its deep historical culture value and Hakka community tradition, Huizhou old town still kept historical temple and lake parks with nice scale and local craftsmanship, but its new town was building too fast to reflect the memorable place quality and events that people use to cherish. Swept by miles and miles of monotonous high-rise housing projects in its urban periphery, the city was listed among the top “Bubble economic urban area” in China, and the real estate developers were struggling to come up with attractive new ideas for their projects to stand out in the markets fierce competition.

人口密集、充满活力的中心区很容易形成富于吸引力的“人气”环境。但不是所有的公共空间都位于这样的中心区。对于一般的景观项目而言,要创造富于吸引力的室外空间体验,同时提供一定的公共属性与可感知的“人气”,需要设计师采取什么设计手段来吸引外来的人群并与其他群体互动呢?人气空间设计方法在解读特定区域与特定空间功能框架下的社会性基因方面可以提供很多经验,用于打造用户喜爱的室外起居室,在人们的日常生活中提供富有趣味性与空间内涵的活动场所。

千花岛位于南中国的惠州市,是一个典型的高层居住区开发项目。过去的三十年中,随着经济的飞速发展与大量住宅项目的开发,这个城市已失去了与其传统文化的密切联系。惠州一向以其深厚的历史文化与客家社区传统而闻名。市内的旧城仍保留了传统的寺庙与湖岸公园,呈现出宜人的空间尺度与当地传统工艺的精美造诣。但是新城区的开发建设速度过快,无法提供人们曾经格外珍视的场所品质与社区记忆。市区周边地段被成片的单一性高层住宅项目所覆盖,被列为“全国房地产泡沫三重灾区”之首。房地产开发商都在探索如何在其开发的产品中注入富于吸引力的新思路,以便在激烈的市场竞争中独树一帜。

The author and her team took the landscape conceptual design of Thousand Flower Island Project, and spent decent amount of time to research the cultural traditions of the region, especially on its Hakka community, which has deep influence to local cultural and social DNA. Workshops with client group were conducted thourouly to discuss how future residence would like to use the landscape space, what are important programs or spatial qualities that likely to draw them outside and experience a true sense of belonging to this new home of Huizhou’s busy working class. Without retail components in the project, place making is challenged to really use garden rooms, playgrounds and landscape features to choreograph places that can hold a lot of activities and events, bring RenChi outdoor and form a vibrant community ambiance.

本文作者和她的团队为千花岛项目提供了概念性景观设计。在设计初期,团队投入了大量时间对区域性文化传统,特别是已在当地社会文化系统中产生深刻影响的客家社区文化,进行了深入的研究,并组织了多次设计研讨会,与客户深入探讨将来迁入的住户会如何使用景观空间,以及哪些类型的功能项目或空间品质更容易吸引住户到室外活动,以此为在惠州忙碌工作的人们提供一种对新家园的真正归属感。由于开发项目中没有商业功能,场所塑造就成为一个富于挑战性的课题。项目设计必须充分利用花园起居室、游乐场和特色景点来组织空间体系,以容纳各种活动的需求,将人气带入室外空间,形成充满活力的社区氛围。

HAKKA DIAGRAMdiagram_1

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Graphics prepared by Peiwen Yu, Patrick Sunbury at SWA Group

Photo credit: Jonnu Singleton, Tom Fox at SWA Group, Foshan Nanhai Planning Bureau

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