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EXPERTS AND CREATIVES ON HOW TO TRANSFORM OUR CITIES.
URBAN MATTERS PANELS, SHANGHAI.
Urban as a matrix for tomorrow’s innovation
Urban Matters by MINI, a content platform for design driven solutions to urban living, assembled an eclectic group of creatives to share their deep experiences and fresh perspectives on the topics of living, commuting, work and conscious cities. Simone Chen, Urban Matters’ Chief Content Officer, hosted a symposium consisting of architects, designers, aesthetes, journalists, even an urban hacker – each voice contributing to the overall ongoing vision of making our cities better.
City renewal, one block at a time
The “Urban Regeneration” panel gathered the creative forces behind the renovation of Yu Yuan Road, a storied but neglected city block, cramped with bikes and pedestrian traffic. The community as well as designers explored the street’s usage, history, sociology, and ecology. Neighbors were engaged to share their oral histories, leading to signage which proudly displays the street’s heritage.
An art installation utilizing an old local factory’s materials transformed a previously unused space into an inviting garden for community elders and children. An official proposal’s illustration of traffic flows became the actual physical design for a zebra crossing. Something as mundane as a street crossing can become an interesting addition to the cityscape. Yu Yuan Road’s collective, bottom up, street level renewal serves as an inspiring example of how real changes happen, one block at a time.
Happiness from the city, a view from the underground
City furniture is the combination of urban planning and product design. Whether bus stops for new business districts, signage for newly developed city spaces, even Disneyland parking structures. It was demonstrated how physical objects become brand touchpoints for a better city. The aim is to create happiness as a quantifiable goal for urban renewal.
Abandoned country club, meet old rail line
The diversity of voices concluded in one final panel to discuss Shanghai’s Columbia Circle and New York’s Highline, the melding of historical and cultural cues with urban elements to develop new vibrant urban systems. Highline, once a neglected railroad spur, has become a new ecosystem of architecture, landscape design, and environmentalism, serving as a global icon and spurring urban redevelopments worldwide.
One hundred years ago, Columbia Circle was Shanghai’s country club for expatriate Americans. Fifty years earlier it housed a government biological institution. Finally, it became an abandoned but hidden space in the middle of the city. All the gathered voices contributed their fresh design perspectives to this new project, and how Columbia Circle could reinvigorate the city, bringing in new contexts, textures, and stories, all contributing to the urban matrix.