Drawing on design interventions, including a network of canopies and increased seating, the project overhauls a neglected district to set a new benchmark for China’s public spaces.
The studio was commissioned by property developer CR Land to redesign Galleria-Instreet, referred to as “Instreet”; the result is a clear flow to this formerly disjointed thoroughfare, as well as community-focused lifestyle elements to cater to both residents and visitors.
Located in Chaoyang District in the northeast of Beijing, Instreet is a representative of a hybridised public space prototype becoming increasingly popular in China’s cities. Comprising commercial functions as well as residential, and typically pedestrian, they feature lifestyle elements aimed squarely at communities. In the case of Instreet, these include children’s play areas, a network of canopies to provide welcome shade, plentiful public seating, and flexible spaces for markets, concerts, and outdoor events of all kinds.
Despite several core landmarks, namely the main entrance to both Phoenix Mall plus Sanyuanqiao subway station, as well as a long redundant concrete bridge, the street lacked visual unity with its various elements disparate and unconnected. An absence of public seating contributed to not only the street’s empty feel but also its nonhuman scale.
Kokaistudios’ first action was to demolish the concrete bridge that once connected the two ends of Instreet. An unnecessary feature along an already pedestrianised route, and largely unused because it was disliked by locals. It brought the negative effect of obstructing the line of sight from one end of the street to the other. Its razing opened up the space significantly, further highlighting the street’s distinct lack of character. At the same time, the bridge’s demolition presented multiple opportunities for design interventions.
A total relandscaping of the area saw the introduction of instruments aimed at encouraging public interaction and use. In particular, a network of canopies running the length of the street visually interrupt the otherwise empty space. Not only does the string of shelters provide welcome shade, come nightfall they light up in a way that is not only atmospheric but also brings safety and security. Resembling an archipelago, they are designed as oases of various activities; including a children’s play area, clusters of green planters, as well as plentiful benches. At the centre is a versatile open-air platform for events of all kinds, further opening Instreet for future actions and possibilities.
Smaller interventions also play a part in Instreet’s redesign; an intricate rain collection system and custom made elements such as steel tree root guard meshes are representative of the project’s close attention to detail, and elevation in quality on what was previously in place.
Frontages of existing commercial tenants, as well as future ones, have also been given an overhaul. That includes a new louvred facade to a multipurpose facility comprising a gym, restaurant, and private club for residents. Now more visually and thematically linked, a mainstay of food and beverages outlets feature extended terraces, surrounded by planters. The smart wooden decks, combined with rough stone elements, as well as additional trees all make for a pocket of nature in the heart of Beijing.