Give a little respect

Monday 09 Jan 2012

Leigh & Orange Limited completes housing project designed to harmonise with its historic and cultural context

Located in South Lake region of Xian, a cultural city with over 3,000 years of history, the primary task of this project is to harmonise modern dwellings with the local tradition which unanimously illustrates itself in heritages, art works, historical motifs and ornaments throughout the city. The project was completed in early December and houses 375 flats and dwellings.

To strengthen the regional characteristics of the design for the project, a sense of community in a new urban environment is encouraged. A main zigzag axis through the site is interlinked with local urban surroundings to engage fully with the context actual. The introduction of pockets and public gathering spaces with various scales according to the density of the building groups along the axis enhances a greater sense of identity for each individual communal grouping.

From an environmental point of view, the zigzag alignment of the main pedestrian street and the orientation of the building blocks together result in an angle changing spatial experience – it increases the visual range of landscape space, aids the natural flow of summer prevailing wind, and maximises daylight exposure for each individual dwelling as it is particularly crucial in that part of China because of its relative cold winter climate. In order to minimise the extent of excavation, an elevated landscape deck is introduced – a complete segregation of vehicular and pedestrian circulation frees up the ‘green carpet’, and allows residents to enjoy the car-free landscape space.

Living within a cultural context, the sources of the design should come from everyday life. Respecting domestic tradition and architectural language and technology underlie the project’s design intention. Local materials and colours such as dark grey bricks and timbers are selected, and by using modern technology to re-present the Chinese traditional elements and details, such as roof forms and tiling, brick work constructions, and window screens and patterns, the project demonstrates a modern living neighbourhood rooted in the local environment, and becomes a corroboration of the design attitude with respect for local conditions.

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