Wenxin Cai

Department of Architecture

Collective Urban Block

Through the reading of the historical context of Beijing, the idea of collectivity is manifested, seen through the historical urban forms of courtyard house and Hutong (alley). This thesis uses the vocabulary of the historical neighborhood of Beijing, and investigates how collectivity can be formed through relational aspects of elements of architecture, such as courtyard, alley, window, balcony, and terrace. This project intends to use key elements of architecture from the contextual reading to make a neighborhood of collective living in central Beijing. Rather than proposing a solution to reverse socio-spatial exclusiveness, the project intends to set up a framework, and imagine how it can be appropriated by future residents.

The ideal Beijing, represented in this project in microcosm, re-imagines how people live and work by bringing together the multitudes of vibrant civic life connected by courtyard houses and alleys. It can be seen as an idea and a model for future development in Beijing that preserves and amplifies the essence of the place: the city built upon an inclusive collectivity.

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