The important role of a city’s local conditions in the urban design
Recently there is a hot debate on a report that a foreign design company invited by a little-known mountainous area in Guiyang provided a design without paying too much attention to the city’s unique characteristics. Some people appreciate the bold innovation of the design but others do not like it. In my opinion, any urban design should take the city’s original cultural heritage into account. The designers should suit their design to local conditions and try to take advantage of the local resources.
First, a city’s regional characteristics or local cultural heritage are its symbol, its identity. In a mountainous area, too many unconventional, super-futuristic buildings will not be compatible with the city’s landscapes. Without these landscapes, it is just another so called modern city composed of concrete and steel. Take Beijing for example. In the past few years, Beijing has been removing a large number of such alleys traditionally called hutong, in order to make it become a real international city. But without these hutongs can this city still be called Beijing, an ancient capital? The disappearance of hutongs means the disappearance of a period of history, a cordial lifestyle, and even the disappearance of Beijing itself. Then Beijing will lose its uniqueness.
Second, it can help a city save a lot of money by suiting the design to local conditions and try to take advantage of the local resources. This is especially important to small cities, like this one in a mountainous area near Guiyang. We all know Guiyang is a developing city, not very rich. Unconventional, super-futuristic buildings mean large need of money input. Then more burdens may be added to this city, which will run counter to the city’s original purpose of developing itself. Instead, if connections between a city’s culture and the various urban sectors, including housing, infrastructure and governance, are well made, the maximum economic benefits will be achieved.
Besides, the modernization should be a gradual process. More haste, less speed. Nonetheless, it should not be overlooked that the shortcomings of futuristic-style constructing outweigh its advantages brought.
In conclusion, any urban design should take the city’s original cultural heritage into account. The designers should suit their design to local conditions and try to take advantage of the local resources. A scientific city design should be dependent on the city’s regional characteristics, on a case-by-case basis.
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