with XWG Archi-Studio | Foshan, PRC | 2004


For this project for a city of 500,000 in the Pearl River Delta, we have integrated the courtyards that provide communal space and natural ventilation in local building practice in South China, with a new concept of the green mat building. Our project draws on the development of the mat building as an urban scaled typology incorporating the potential for dense development of commercial, residential, corporate, and cultural programs commensurate with a new urban center, while employing the latest environmental technology to ensure attention to human needs for green space, and free and pleasant circulation. A multilayered infrastructural sheet, or mat building, covers the entire site, multiplying the urban ground into three layers. Within this sheet, infrastructure weaves through a parking level, as well as low-rise commercial and retail spaces on large floor plates defined by street frontages and punctuated by courtyards. A vast urban park covers the top of this sheet. Pedestrian paths weave through all levels connecting office towers, cultural and public programs, and retail space in a bright and natural environment. A threefold increase in the urban ground means three times the green space, three times the retail frontage, and three times the light and natural ventilation. Infrastructure in this scheme is wedded to both artificial and natural ground. Road is never separated from the territory of the surface, it is never considered as something separate from the area it feeds, rather the two are considered together in harmony. In this way, infrastructure ceases to be a barrier, but becomes an armature, something that knits the city together rather than dividing it. The urban plan of Foshan must be open and flexible; it must be able to develop differently, depending upon economic realities. The mat building we propose is a loose-fit infrastructure which does not overly determine program but instead serves as scaffolding, keeping the city organized and preventing it from becoming obsolete. The entire city does not need to be built all at once in order to be built as a whole. By developing the artificial ground as an infrastructural substrate into which developments can be plugged when feasible, we ensure positive growth patterns regardless of the specifics of individual parcels.

Project Info

Finalist International Competition  |  Type: Urban Planning  |  Structure: Multiple


Project Credits


Jesse Reiser + Nanako Umemoto, Xu Wei-Guo


Design Team

Wolfgang Gollwitzer, Keisuke Kitagawa, Jonathan D. Solomon, Xu Feng

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