Nantou Ancient Town is located at the core area of Nanshan District, Shenzhen, China with a history of nearly 1700 years. Yet nowadays it has become a high-density and low-quality residential area of an urban village that is home to a homogenous population. However, it is facing a tremendous renewal pressure from the local government and society along with the urbanization in the city.
The masterplan aims at transforming this hybrid of urban village and old town from a single residential district into a highly active mixed-use dynamic community and an open platform for creativity. The renovation project also tries to set up a dynamic, interactive and flexible framework for Nantou Ancient Town to constantly adapt itself to the new conditions posed by the vast changes of the city.
The renovation project occupies a land area of 44,000 m² (about 1/3 of the size of the ancient town) and involves around 300 buildings. Inheriting the spatial layout of the “six vertical axes and one horizontal axis” which was established in Ming Dynasty, the masterplan is composed of four areas, including Cultural Cross Belt, Idea Factory, Design Commune and Cultural and Creative Bazaar.
Firstly, the renovation includes the improvement of the infrastructure facilities and the comprehensive promotion of the spatial environment, aiming at reintegrating the ancient town into the urban development.
Secondly, with the continuous superposition of the history and the modern architectural traces, the façade renovation needs to coordinate between “history” and “modern”. Under the premise of respecting the authenticity of history and visual feature, and upgrading using function, 3 renovation principles for style and features are adopted flexibility to revive buildings: Principle of Innovation, Principle of Renovation and Principle of Repairing.
Therefore, the façade renovation in Cantonese architectural style sets the tone for the fabric of the buildings, highlighting the distinctive features of the ancient town. Meanwhile, a collective design mechanism is adopted, so several design studios are invited to participate in designing important nodes to form visual anchor points and diverse façade design. Therefore, contemporary and historical architecture coexist in an urban environment where multiple uses and spatial proximity create a myriad of opportunities for social interaction and to celebrate the pleasures of urban life.¬
What is more, by means of landscape transformation of the main streets and public parks, and turning the idle small spaces and corner spaces into pocket parks, the project maximizes space available for public realm, green space or programmable events space, embedding the notion of community and social interaction at the heart of the scheme.
More than façade and public spaces renovation, the masterplan also aims to generate new activity modes or typologies in the area and provide diverse set of lifestyles to satisfy a wide spectrum of people. Our strategy is to create a hybridized mix of different program and an open creative cluster by introducing new function such as youth apartment, creative retails, creative workspace, artist studio and art museum to bring vitality to the town. Particularly, in the area of Idea Factory, Design Commune and Cultural and Creative Bazaar, inefficient assets were transformed into creative working spaces to meet the office’s need of creative industries, especially the design industry, in Shenzhen. Additionally, the project also activates and utilizes the historic buildings to conceives an exhibition system to restore the history and satisfy people’s cultural needs.
The regeneration of the Nantou Ancient Town is a complex and long-term progressive process and this mater plan aims to lay a solid and flexible foundation for the continuous renewal of Nantou in the future. Varied strategies are used to create a variety of spatial scenes, responding to particularities of the site and to each individual program. By attracting creative talents and workers, enriching the demographic and industrial structure, a creative community that organically blends into the local community is created, which can eventually realize the long-term self-renewal unique urban community in the midst of the city.