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Place-making in Anting: drawing narrative lines to re-humanize public space

Katie Henry
18 Nov 2019

Kokaistudios recently saw the upgrading and refurbishment of the satellite town’s central square in Anting in an urban renewal project.

The design connects the oversized space through a series of interventions such as a landmark centerpiece and extending and defining its four axes. The effect has transformed and elevated the underused and ill-equipped space into a vibrant hub from an empty expanse.

The town is located sixty kilometres from central Shanghai and was designed as a German-themed district in 2001. Large surrounding areas have been purchased by leading real estate developer Vanke in the Shanghai automotive industry. Vanke commissioned Kokaistudios to transform the central square into a vibrant cultural activities hub in order to make it a more attractive location for residents.  

The intent was to create a series of stories in the square and drawing narrative lines across the space. Inspiration was taken from the allotments and orchard in the modular planters in the north side of the square where residents can cultivate their own herbs and aromatic plants. This installment works to connect and anchor this part of the square to the district further up as well as adding an interactive element and programming. 

The eastern quadrant that connects to the lakeside landscape beyond, an attractive water feature was created and flanked by benches to allow rest and relaxation. On the south side, design cues were taken from the park and installed a children’s playground, giving it energy and activity from the young families who can use the space.

The road junction to the west of the square connects to Anting’s travel infrastructure which makes it a primary access point. Kokaistudios chose to open up the facades of the buildings to more commercial opportunities such as an enlarged pedestrian area and terrace seating for the F&B premises.

These four-distinct place-makers are unified with a central pavilion. Designed as an accessorial architectural landmark, it serves several functions such as a covered “stage” area that can be used for all kinds of events, shelter from sun and rain and a basketball court. The roof is created in an uplifting design of a four-sided shape like a sail that’s twisted and tilted to striking effect. The geometry makes it appear different depending on which of the squares it is viewed from. The pavilion can also appear transparent from an optical effect that the louvered roof creates from certain angles. 

The four themed quadrants and the central canopy are connected by a “carpet” or path that physically traces the lines of the square’s axes in red asphalt, which works to guide visitors to each area to encourage engagement and create an identity. The developed and clear programming elements such as planters and the pavilion, the renewal of the square has invited residents to take part in cultural activities and effectively breathed new life into the town.