Urban Sift – Exacerbate Proximity

John Tubles, Jane Jonghyun Yi (website)
Harvard University Graduate School of Design
Option Studio
Faculty: Christopher C. M. Lee (website)


The mega plot is an efficient mechanism for rapid urban development yet it alters the notion of the city as we know it, removing its socio-political dimension and commonality. In China, generic high-rise towers that populate large plots of land are replacing the intricate and densely rich urban fabric. This approach to urban design creates objects within a field that stand as an emblematic reminder of economic success, power and modernity. However these towers create a fragmented ground condition that does not relate to its context thus creating large urban islands.

Our project is a critique on the mega plot’s autonomous relationship with the city. By highlighting the posture of intimacy, thinness and specificity, we propose a series of wall blocks that create an egalitarian mat condition throughout the field to create a new porous space on the ground, a screen of vitality. The configuration and relationship of the individual buildings organize the interstitial spaces between, creating a series of thresholds, pocket parks and civic programs. Our project rejects the dominant structures of the mega plot by inserting it into its center. This idea of re-scaling of the city leads to the creation of an urban sift slowing down the speed, defining moments, and overcoming the boundaries created by the mega plot.

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