Project DescriptionOld Tianqiao was once a bustling hub of cultural activities and folk arts traditions ranging from storytelling, variety shows, acrobatics, and operas. However, China’s rapid urbanization is encroaching on and radically diminishing these cultural landscapes. The Tianqiao Performing Arts District intends to reestablish the cultural heart of the capital with a collection of modern and traditional performance venues that respect the city’s sensitive, World Heritage context.
A number of factors have led to the district’s decline, including the loss of affordable housing options, lack of a financial strategy, poor access, the generally dilapidated condition of the area’s buildings, and, perhaps most important, the disappearance of an overall, defining character for the district in the public mind. Rediscovering the vibrancy of this already dense district begins with the sensitive and incremental demolition of the most dilapidated structures. Using a sustainable pattern of careful research and analysis in the selection of tear-down sites, the remaining spaces leave room for the selective infilling of modern “jewel-box” theaters and mixed uses to draw out 24/7 users of the district.
An integrated design process across many disciplines laid out a series of environmental goals, including reintroducing the historic farm fabric, developing a storm water filtration system, reducing waste by using existing materials, and reducing automobile dependence and carbon footprint by creating walkable neighborhoods around three new subway stations. The urban farm, the first of its kind in scale and goals, sets a new standard in modern, advanced ecological and urban agricultural living.
To maintain housing affordability the project proposes incubator zones adjacent to main theaters to provide live/work residential environments for performing artists. In addition, the provision of spaces for instructors, drama and acrobatic schools, service sector jobs in the area’s new restaurants and hotels, and affordable artist housing creates a unified and vertically integrated performing arts industry ecosystem.