Herzog & de Meuron Basel Ltd.
4056 Basel, Switzerland
Phone: +41 61 385 5757
The Jindong New District Commercial, Cultural and Entertainment Centre is a 270,000 sqm urban centre scheme with shops, restaurants, hotels, offices and loft apartments, located in the newly planned Jindong quarter of Jinhua, a four-million-inhabitant city in Zhejiang Province in southern China.
Herzog & de Meuron was introduced to the Jinhua city authorities by the artist Ai Weiwei, a leading figure in contemporary Chinese art. Jinhua was the birthplace of Ai Weiwei’s father, Ai Qing, a celebrated 20th-century Chinese poet. The city commissioned Ai Weiwei to develop an outline scheme for Ai Qing Cultural Park as a memorial to his father. The designs for the new urban centre south of the park had already been completed when Ai Weiwei persuaded the authorities to rethink this part of the development and appoint Herzog & de Meuron to draw up new proposals for the district.
Although the original brief called only for a master plan, the tight timeframe coupled with other considerations soon made an integral design solution appear as the most desirable option. The project consequently far transcends a conventional urban planning scheme in that, despite its enormous scale by European standards, the designs embrace all buildings. The current program envisages the creation, within two years, of an urban centre to accommodate 100,000 inhabitants and capable, in the following years, of developing into the commercial and cultural focus for a population of up to 300,000.
The outline scheme proposes a new model for a Chinese city in its attempt to reconcile the grid city paradigm with the organic settlement. The existing rice fields on the plot form the basis for the design. After initially concentrating the entire planned accommodation in the northern section of the site to free up space for a park in the south and introduce a new planning density into the very monotonous, monumentally scaled urban environment, we proceeded to superimpose a grid over the entire site, the Field. This is interrupted in two areas, where water once flowed into the Yi Wu River. Here, a kind of fossilized nature forms the starting point for the Village and the Mountain. Both of these provide a counterpoint to the orthogonal sobriety of the Field grid, while adding a wide diversity of urban features and qualities.
All buildings are constructed from the very simple, locally sourced materials, clay brick and plaster. The surfaces of the individual volumes are punctuated by an array of newly developed patterns, textures and reliefs.
Herzog & de Meuron, 2006
A memorial to the poet Ai Qing is created on the banks of the River Yiwu. Herzog & de Meuron revise the master plan for the adjacent new district.
Herzog & de Meuron’s proposal, combining an organic settlement, defined by natural forms, with the concept of an orthogonal grid, creates a new type of master plan for Chinese cities.
The new master plan is based on the layout of the existing rice paddies. A grid is laid over the entire area, interrupted in two places by a different type of development echoing the course of dried-up tributaries to the Yiwu. The concentration of buildings in the north frees up space for a park.
The architects also design the buildings for the master plan, creating three different typological zones: “Mountain,” “Village,” and “Field.”
The Mountain zone, with high-rise buildings of up to fourteen stories, cuts across the Field towards the river. The individual buildings comprise concrete and glass layers and create dynamic street spaces with canyon-like openings. Conversions to apartments lead to variants with balconies.
In the second transverse interruption, the Village, there are buildings with a maximum of six stories and mainly square footprints housing shops and restaurants, offering flexibility in the design of their facades.
The Field, the most extensive zone, accommodates long, low-rise buildings of two to three stories in height.
Taking inspiration from the free forms used for wall openings and tiles in traditional Chinese buildings, the architects develop a pentagonal-to-octagonal honeycomb pattern that is laid over the volumes like a virtual net, allowing a free choice of openings.
Herzog & de Meuron take advantage of local materials and production methods in their designs.
Different ways of using local bricks facilitate a wide variety of finishes.
Gerhard Mack, Herzog & de Meuron: “Herzog & de Meuron 1997-2001. The Complete Works. Volume 4.” Edited by: Gerhard Mack. Basel / Boston / Berlin, Birkhäuser, 2008. Vol. No. 4.
“Building Review. Herzog & de Meuron.” Vol. No. 340, Beijing, Art and Design Publishing House, 03.2007. pp. 8-140.
Nobuyuki Yoshida (Ed.): “Architecture and Urbanism. Herzog & de Meuron 2002-2006.” Tokyo, A+U Publishing Co., Ltd., 08.2006.
Fernando Márquez Cecilia, Richard Levene (Eds.): “El Croquis. Herzog & de Meuron 2002-2006. Monumento e Intimidad. The Monumental and the Intimate.”
Vol. No. 129/130, Madrid, El Croquis, 2006.
“Jindong New Development Area, Jinhua. Herzog & de Meuron.” In: Nobuyuki Yoshida (Ed.). “Architecture and Urbanism. Architecture in China.” Vol. No. 399, Tokyo, A+U Publishing Co., Ltd., 12.2003. pp. 94-99.