An Alternative Model For Urban Renewal: A Generative Approach To The (Re)-Development Of Xian Village

Zhitao Xu University of Technology Sydney
Ling Kit Cheung University of Technology Sydney
Pei Chen University of Technology Sydney
Mohammed Makki University of Technology Sydney

AN ALTERNATIVE MODEL FOR URBAN RENEWAL: A GENERATIVE APPROACH TO THE (RE)-DEVELOPMENT OF XIAN VILLAGE Keywords: Guangzhou, Xian Village, Evolutionary computation, Urban renewal, Cultural and Heritage Preservation. The world is constantly changing, and so should the cities. A well-designed urban fabric should be complex, adaptable, and variable; in order to survive for generations in this rapidly changing world where the environment, climate and demographics are changing unpredictably. Oftentimes, this is seen as a prompt to rebuild; erasing the old and replacing it with what is deemed suitable for the next however many predictable decades. In doing so, and in cases where the demand for urban growth is driven by increasing population and economic stresses, the historical significance of culture, heritage and community of the existing is discarded. This pattern has repeated itself throughout the 21st century in various parts of the world experiencing rapid urbanisation. One such example is ‘Xian Village’ in Guangzhou China; an urban tissue that represents the struggle between a decentralised, bottom-up urban fabric failing to adapt to the speed of growth and demands of urbanisation, inevitably leading to its destruction in favour of top-down, centralised urban form. This paper examines this phenomena, one that is repeating itself ever more frequently, by reimagining Xian Village through the design of an urban tissue that retains the urban characteristics of the existing village, yet integrates it to the surrounding city that is experiencing rapid urban renewal. The research addresses the three fundamental relationships within the Xian Village Superblock. Firstly, on a macro scale, the relationship between the Superblock and its context, the Tianhe CBD. It focuses on the interaction in and out of the site through the connection to existing networks and points of interest, all through the lens of maintaining the site’s historic significance. Secondly, focusing on the internal urban characteristics of the superblock; it investigates the relationship between the community and the urban form by understanding the social and cultural impact of the original village and the preservation of the site’s cultural and heritage typologies. Lastly, on a micro scale, the local relationships between the individuals inhabiting the tissue to each other as well as to the urban form. The presented research examines the above through the application of a multi-objective evolutionary algorithm to both better understand the challenges of the various design objectives, as well as the impact of the parameters generating the urban tissue. The simulations rebuild the Xian Village Superblock to consider the preservation of the existing site through variation of urban form, examining relationships between morphology, network, population density, environment and cultural integration. The paper, and presented results, aim to highlight the destructive impact of rapid urban renewal that favours repetitive homogeneity resulting in the erasure of the site’s historic and cultural heritage. In doing so, the paper presents an alternative approach to the 21st-century city that aims to better integrate the past to the present, leveraging advanced algorithmic models, primarily evolutionary, to allow for the two to co-exist without the necessity to erase one for the other. References: Alexander, C. (1964) ‘A City is Not a Tree’, 1965. Derix, C. (2012) ‘Digital masterplanning: computing urban design’, Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers – Urban Design and Planning, ICE Publishing, vol. 165, no. 4, pp. 203–217 [Online]. DOI: 10.1680/udap.9.00041. Gu, Z. and Zhang, X. (2021) ‘Framing social sustainability and justice claims in urban regeneration: A comparative analysis of two cases in Guangzhou’, Land Use Policy, vol. 102, p. 105224 [Online]. DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2020.105224. Makki, M., Showkatbakhsh, M., Tabony, A. and Weinstock, M. (2018) ‘Evolutionary Algorithms for Generating Urban Morphology: Variations and Multiple Objectives’, International Journal of Architectural Computing, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 5–35 [Online]. DOI: 10.1177/1478077118777236. Miao, Y., Koenig, R. and Knecht, K. (2020) ‘The Development of Optimization Methods in Generative Urban Design: A Review’, Proceedings of SimAUD: Symposium on Simulation for Architecture. Weinstock, M. (2010) The Architecture of Emergence: The Evolution of Form in Nature and Civilisation, Chichester, U.K, Wiley. Wu, F., Li, L.-H. and Han, S. Y. (2018) ‘Social Sustainability and Redevelopment of Urban Villages in China: A Case Study of Guangzhou’, Sustainability, Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, vol. 10, no. 7, p. 2116 [Online]. DOI: 10.3390/su10072116.

Keywords: Guangzhou, Xian Village, Evolutionary Computation, Urban Renewal, Cultural And Heritage Preservation.

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