Public Ren Chi Space
In today’s urban environment, the “common ground” between buildings is a sea of chaotic ideas and actions of its citizens, which shapes an invisible infrastructure of the society and culture – the public space. People’s activity in the space plays a vital role in making the city energetic and expressive of the city’s cultural spirits. Successful city building requires holistic ideas for creating a highly active public space that goes beyond form and function that actually enhances life energy of the city. As Rem Koolhaas once pointed out at a vernacular traditional village in Hong Kong, designers could learn and be fascinated by its “pure absence of design and incredible presence of life”.
The language of “Ren Chi” originated from one of the world’s largest urbanizes, China. It describes the kind of contemporary urban space with a prominent quality of lasting 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). Public Space with “Ren Chi” does not merely glorify individual architectural icons, instead, seeking the “relationship” and “connection” between parts, and the “energy” radiated from people’s activity. Examples of such places are not necessarily constructed with the most expensive materials or perfect forms, but are highly effective in attracting people, and connecting different programs and users together seamlessly.
The global urban age is happening at a dizzying pace and with a scale, diversity, complexity and level of connectivity that challenges the traditional design paradigms. Landscape architect’s role in city building is expanding to include greater social considerations while shaping the physical environment. The next generation designers have been actively looking for innovative ideas from urbanization frontiers that could inspire other regions’ urban transformation, and apply design principles such as Ren Chi to other context in the world.