Beijing, meeting point of cultures, core of the East, a complex reality generated by contradictions and opposites that forced us to dive deeply inside the urban space, interpreting and representing it with a distortion of the classic tools.
The aims of our research are numerous: first, portraying the place to preserve its future memory; second, showing a possible methodology for other similar cases; third, focusing the architects and city planners’ attention on the danwei model’s great urban potential (see panels 1 and 2); fourth, questioning about hypothetical transformation scenarios originated by listening to the singular site and its inhabitants’ stories.
We chosen the danwei of Cotton Textile Factory n.2, a heterogeneous reality rich of stimulus.
At first the role of the architect matches with the flâneur’s one: you can narrate the city only if you get carried away and then re-emerge to fix some moments; you have to use multiple gazes, complementary instruments able to catch different hints: words, photos, videos, sketches.
During the next step the architect has to support the existing trends without altering them to much, leading the transformations, urban and architectural scale at the same time. We solved the urban scale problems first (practicability, big empty spaces, accesses) and then we achieved the architectural scale for some portions inside the pattern - thinking about the external edge, strong and clear, and the progressive intervention on three informal areas.
The work by Silvia Lanteri and Eudes Margaria, while fully independent in terms of contents' freshness, design strategies and personal interpretations, was born within a broader research framework: the sino-italian research platform "Memory-Regeneration", a partnership between Tsinghua University and Politecnico di Torino.
The research was devoted to "urban danweis" (industrial work units in the socialist period) and their potential for the transformation of the contemporary city. The case-study of the Textile Factory danwei in Beijing Chaoyang was excellently developed by Silvia and Eudes, and some of their research drawings were recently included in the book "Beijing Danwei. Industrial Heritage and the Contemporary City", edited by M. Bonino and F. De Pieri, Jovis 2015.