Living in the City: Global Chinatown Case Study

Advanced Architecture Studio 6

Spring 2013

Juan Herreros + José Aragüez, critics, with Ernesto Silva

AN ARGUMENT: To work in the consolidated city by giving a second opportunity to neighborhoods that are apparently “finalized” and have no chance to be re-described. This agenda demands going beyond the conventional strategy of transformation—understood as plot by plot—and inventing new strategies instead, without falling into the glib fascination with megastructural conceptions.

A LOCATION: Chinatown Manhattan is one the few “Chinatowns” in NYC and one of the 300 existing around the world today. It works like a dynamic city in its own right, comprised of residential, productive, business, commercial and cultural sectors. Current conditions are dissimilar. Most of the buildings are over a hundred years old and have never been renovated.

A PROJECT: Where it seems like architecture no longer has any say, we proposed urban recycling solutions, primarily based on residential use, to be superimposed onto the current urban tissue. Proposals addressed the typical domains of a neighborhood-scale urban reality (production, business, consumption, culture, etc.).

A PRELIMINARY STUDY: In order to avoid the unconscious temptation of reproducing ancient utopian dreams, each participant first explored and submitted to class criticism an urban model produced by one of the avant-garde practices of the sixties. The purpose of this study was to transpose the ideals of the chosen model to present moment conditions.

A GLOBAL RESEARCH: Elaborating a catalog of Chinatowns around the globe. US examples: Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Honolulu and others that are either brand new or presently being established. Identifying topics and parameters of comparison constituted a collective course work.

Yike Peng A/B
Jochen Hartmann C/D/E
Kuo Lun Wei F/G