gooood为你奉上“每个人everyone”专辑。这是第十六期：每个人 × 公租房 × 马岩松
Most of people lives in cities, experiencing architecture spaces everyday. Design is closely related to everyone, and listening to people from other industries also enables us to expand our understanding about design, architecture, urban environment and the whole world.
everyone album NO.16 – everyone × public housing × MA Yansong
出品人：向玲 | Producer: Xiang Ling
编辑团队：武晨曦，陈诺嘉，盖世昕，熊玮，薛墨林（实习），姜艾钰（实习）| Editor: Wu Chenxi, Chen Nuojia, Gai Shixin, Xiong Wei, Xue Molin (intern) , Jiang Aiyu (intern)
▼4分半精选视频（建议选择蓝光1080p观看）, 4.5-mintue video
Baiziwan public rental housing community is the first social housing project completed by MAD. Since its completion in 2019, it has been widely acclaimed as the “most beautiful public housing” by the media and netizens, also be beloved by its residents. By now the community’s occupancy rate has exceeded 70%.
In this episode of Everyone album, gooood has interviewed the architect Ma Yansong and several residents living in Baiziwan community, in order to provide some different perspectives on the project and in the meantime to further understand the architect’s thoughts on housing design.
MAD Architects, led by Ma Yansong, unveiled its first public housing project – Baiziwan public rental housing community. Located on Guangqu Road outside Beijing’s East Fourth Ring Road, close to the Huagong Station on Metro Line 7 and looking out over the CBD, the project covers an area of 93,900 sqm, with a total construction area of 473,300 sqm, and comprises 12 apartment buildings with a total of 4,000 households.
In its first social housing project, MAD aims to break the mould in concrete practice and use design to promote innovation in social housing in China, allowing space and architecture to serve people. A big-scale community dissolves itself into both the city and the lives of its residents, awakening the social nature of residences and solving a series of specific problems about living in a rapidly growing city in China today.
By opening up the enclosing walls and introducing urban roads in the community, 12 apartment buildings are divided into six clusters, thus a large plot of land is split into six smaller blocks. The ground level is mainly for public programmes that are integrated into the city, and will combine a series of facilities including convenience stores, cafes, restaurants, a kindergarten, a community clinic, bookstores and elderly institutions, etc. Community life is integrated into the city, and in the meantime the city becomes more humanized in its scale.
Returning the ground level to the city, the first level of the community is dedicated to the residents, creating a series of three-dimensional green areas. A circular running track re-unites the six blocks into a whole to create a huge park, interconnecting all communal programmes including but not limited to a gym, a badminton court, a children’s playground, an eco-farm and a community service centre.
▼百子湾公租房（燕保·百湾家园）项目鸟瞰，Aerial view ©存在建筑
点此查看项目详情，Click here for more detailed descriptions
Left: Outdoor space © CreatAR Images ; Right: Residents in the community ©朱雨蒙
*英文版本见文末，For English please scroll down
▼漂浮花园示意图，Vertical landscape diagram ©MAD
The community has a greening rate of 47%, bringing residents closer to nature © 存在建筑
Project model: the “wireframes” represent the rigid spaces ©gooood
View to the amphitheater from the apartment corridor ©gooood
▼三岔式的平面，The Y-shaped layout ©夏至
▼提取建筑形态设计的社区导视系统，Signage system design ©MAD; gooood
▼建筑立面：除了一层的现浇结构，其他部分几乎是100%的标准化预制建造，Building facade: except for the ground level, the entire project was 100% standardized prefabricated construction©gooood
The design gave priority to providing every family sufficient sunlight © CreatAR Images
The corridor and lobby with natural light © gooood
▼建筑与城市，The building in the city ©朱雨蒙
Interview with Ma Yansong
1. What was the motivation for you to accept the commission to design Baiziwan project? What new things do you think it brings to China’s public housing today? What are the highlights of this project?
Ma Yansong: Initially we were invited by Beijing Public Housing Center to a participate in the development of new types of public housing. We had done research on the past housing projects and found the status quo not so desirable. On the other hand, as many international architects had engaged with residential projects, and the quality of housing in China is relatively poor when compared to its quantity, we thought it was an opportunity to giving it a try, seeing if we could bring some changes.
I was once told that a good architect must have residential projects, which I thought was in some way reasonable. Indeed, what we see in China today is that most cities, as well as their houses, all look the same, which I think is quite an issue. Now that the biggest problem has come into sight, I want to challenge myself too.
The main concept of the project was to create an “open community”, so we eliminated all the fences, and then brought city roads in. The ground level is mainly for public programmes that are integrated into the city; while the first level includes greenery and activity spaces. All spaces on the first level are interconnected through a bridge to finally achieve a three-dimensional community. The apartments are also staggered in height, creating a rich, human-scaled spatial experience, which is different from the traditional approach to those barrack-like, slab-type buildings or towers.
The challenge was to create a high-density community, which had the same premise as any other project of its type, but what we wanted to do was to integrate human-scaled space and the sense of community into the city, and to make it a distinctive feature of the whole project. Some of the residential projects we investigated before, especially public housing, were usually in remote locations or completely walled off from its urban surroundings. In a city, every enclosed area is like a black hole where nobody finds it necessary to go to or see what is happening inside. Beijing has many housing estates like that, and all these enclosed areas will finally make a part of the city “swallowed”. In this case, I think there is a need to explore the idea of “open community”, whether it is from the use of space or the integration of different inhabitants.
2. Some breakthroughs was made to the regulations in terms of the calculation of greenery ratio. How did it benefit the project? In such a high-density housing project, what measures have been taken to achieve spaces that are open yet intimate to nature?
Ma Yansong: As we led the city roads and functions to the ground floor, the first floor has become a car-free landscape zone, which is also known as the floating garden. Generally, the greening rate of a residential district is no less than 30%, but by separating the flow of pedestrians and vehicles, the greening rate on the first floor is raised to 47%, which is more than the area of all public spaces in a traditional community. However, in some cases the first floor area will not be counted, or it has to be counted with a coefficient, which means the residents in Baiziwan community are given extra spaces without sacrificing the functions on the ground floor.
3. Was there any other aspect where the design challenges the policy regulations? To what extend were you able to control the whole process?
Ma Yansong: As you can see from the project model, we attach great importance to what we can offer in addition to the space we have to provide. For each individual, what he cares about is of course his own apartment and the space inside it, but when so many people live together, there is a community, and then there is a relationship with the city. The “wireframes” showed in this model are what we call “rigid spaces” that must be provided. In addition to the functions I have just mentioned, we have also created some shared community spaces on the ground level, which may not be found very important until they are literally used by the residents, or even by people from the surrounding communities. So it is very necessary to get the city open. If every community is conceived to have an extra level as what we did on the first floor, where people can exercise or walk their dogs, where there are places for children to play, when all these activities happen, the users will unconsciously place themselves in a relationship with their neighbours and surrounding blocks. This kind of integration of community, as well as the sharing by the society, is our ultimate vision in the design.
A large amount of grey spaces were arranged on the ground level, which was a challenge for housing estate planning because there were strict restrictions in terms of area calculations. However, if what you care about is only the area, then nobody would attempt to work it out. Some of those gray spaces for parking the electric scooters are intentionally programmed, or else the residents have to go downstairs and then walk back to the ground level, which would be quite inconvenient. So all these efforts we made was to achieve a space that can be well-used by the public.
4. How was your concept of “Shanshui City” reflected in the project？Will it be differently embodied in commercial buildings compared to that in residential buildings?
Ma Yansong: We didn’t intend to do a so-called “Shanshui” architecture. The buildings do form a receded skyline, but this is completely considered from a spatial point of view. The design gave priority to providing every family sufficient sunlight. Given that they were all small-sized units, the volumes had to be minimized into thin “slabs”, and the Y-shaped building plan made it possible to maximize the amount of households. At the same we tried to avoid making the buildings overwhelming in scale, and in order to create a more comfortable spatial experience, we designed additional volumes that are smaller in height. This was in conflict with the ideal floor area ratio, thus we created such setbacks to form a smooth transition between these different volumes.
5. What are the pros and cons of using the prefabricated construction for Baiziwan project? Do you think prefabricated buildings will become a mainstream of residential development in the future？
Ma Yansong: This was a prerequisite. Beijing Public Housing Center required the project to have a relatively high assembly rate, which was also the kind of prototype that the project supposed to be. It was conceived as an exemplary or experimental project, so that we were allowed to break the established rules in many other aspects, such as the measurement of greening rate, grey space and usable area. High industrialization rate can benefit to enhancing the environmental friendliness and ensuring a fast, clean and high-quality construction. On the ground level, we wanted to create a dynamic and undulating landscape, which was not able to realize by using prefabricated units, so we used a cast-in-situ structure, above which the entire project was 100% standardized prefabricated construction.
6. How do you see the concept of integration of residents from different backgrounds and income levels in the design of some international settlements today? In what ways can residential design in China enhance such kind of integration?
Ma Yansong: Community integration is one of our goals of practice, as Chinese cities, especially Chinese residential developments, are usually differentiated by their users. Public housing, compared with commercial residence, is provided to a specific group of people, but the question that follows is how do people live together and what is their relationship to the city? I think it is the most important thing to avoid such acts of labelling and class-division. There are needs that we all share, such as the need for greenery and beauty, for the sense of belonging to a community, as well as for psychological satisfaction, which are able to transcend class, and these are prerequisites for today’s public housing to truly give people belongingness and sense of living.
7. We have interviewed some residents from the community and most of them mentioned about the problem of large shared areas. But when they were asked to choose either a lager living area or a better environment outside, they all tended to choose the latter. How do you think about it?
Ma Yansong: As an architect, what I can do is to provide spaces that are flexible and manageable. The ancillary facility required by traditional communities can be very limited, maybe it is just a couple of supermarkets. The reason why we provided so much service spaces is to first build it out at a low cost, and therefore it can be operated at a low rent. In this way, the tenants who would not otherwise come in, such as studios and cultural spaces, are able to afford the cost of entering. So I think it is a gradual process of becoming wise in its operation and management.
It is already the case that the residents are living in small-sized apartments, and what I’m able to do is to make their homes more comfortable, and then let the outdoor and shared spaces become a more important part of their life.
8. We found that some residents do not seem to be good at arranging furniture of their houses, which in some way leads to a waste of space. What considerations have you made in terms of the layout and arrangement of different house typologies?
Ma Yansong: We designed built-in storage for each house type, including those in beds, benches and tables. There are also some other spaces for storage like the bay window or high shelves. For a small house, the layout of furniture and storages can really affect how efficiently it can be used, and the residents still need time to be adept at that. Take the project we have done in Paris (UNIC) as an example, which has achieved the combination of commercial housing and social housing, it took a quite long time for France to develop its social hosing from post-war slab buildings to what it is like today. It is achieved by government efforts, the residents’ spontaneous adaption as well as architects’ fighting for changing the rules, from generation to generation. There is such a large amount of housing in China today, but only a few of them can be called as communities due to a lack of consideration of people and of design itself. I think there is now an urgent need for architects to take action to make some changes. You may have to accept failures
and I think there is an urgent need for architects to take action to make some changes. You may have to face with failures and the voice of opposition, but it is only when every architect naturally takes it on can the changes really happen.
9. What are your satisfaction or dissatisfaction with Baiziwan project?
Ma Yansong: I think it is already a very experimental project in relation to its current conditions, and it has challenged many existing cases. For now I would not say I’m satisfied or unsatisfied with it, I’m just curious about its actual performance, or how interactive it will be. Honestly, Baiziwan is not one of my extreme ideals in terms of design, since it has more or less compromised on some restrictions. What I want to see is what kind of impact it can have on reality in turn. It might be an interactive process, with contradictions, resistance or any other adjustments, but it is also the only way for the formation of a community. No community can be formed without the participation of inhabitants and idealistic attitudes. The tension that exists between “how to operate” and the feedback from the residents will last for at least a few years, but it is the kind of discussion I’m always expect to witness.
10. If you were to do another residential project in the future, what new ventures would you like to make?
Ma Yansong: There are too many. Every community should be different. “Homogenization” has become a big problem of residential buildings in China. All communities look the same. The planning patterns and the appearances of different cities are the same. Even the lives of all Chinese people are almost the same. Under this premise, whenever you do something different, I think it is positive. There is no need to be critical of the so-called success, because a small change can already challenge the reality, and is already an effort to diversity. So if I had the opportunity to build another residential project again, I would definitely do one that is completely different (from Baiziwan community).