On February 24, 2023, the Seminar on the Regeneration Practice of Chaowai Area, co-sponsored by CRTKL and Urban Land Institute (ULI), was held in CRTKL Beijing Office. Yen Liu, Principal, Office Leader, CRTKL Beijing, Rui Zhou, President at Insite Beijing and Head of the Box Project, Xingxing Hu, Chief Designer and Landscape Associate Director at AECOM, and Ying Yang, Planning & Design Director at AECOM and Responsible Planner of Chaowai Street, were invited to attend the event and deliver speeches.
At the seminar, the participants exchanged views on how to regenerate Chaowai Area and achieve social, economic and community benefits, how to involve residents, users, enterprises and government authorities in regional transformation and upgrading, and how to enhance the collaborative spirit and engagement of all stakeholders.
In his speech, Yen Liu introduced that the renovation program was attributed to the appeal for the upgrading of the Chaowai business area. After analyzing the current problems existed in the Chaowai business area (For example: bad traffic experience due to low street quality and chaotic streets; high vacancy rate of the once-great high-end office buildings; and the decline in residents’ sense of belonging and identity due to low utilization rate of public space and lack of supporting services), Yen found out the key to solving the problems. He said: “Essentially, these problems can be attributed to quality of urban area development. Therefore, we should put the regeneration of Chaowai business area in the context of urban renewal of Chaowai Area. The area renewal is hopeful to facilitate the regeneration of the business area, and vice versa.” Based on this idea, CRTKL proposed five approaches (identifying a common vision, developing the spatial layout, laying emphasis on aesthetic experience, defining the guidelines for area renewal, and engaging with multiple stakeholders), aiming to make Chaowai Area a new urban area with an international vision, innovative aesthetics and humanistic touch.
Yen also explored the relationship between city and area, and identified public space, the intersection of city and area, as the catalyst for design under the unique functional orientation of Beijing. He said: “A business area can thrive only by making it within the walkable distance. With quality improving of public space as the catalyst, increasing walkability is one of the most direct ways to renovate and upgrade business areas. The isolated commercial complexes should be connected as a whole via better walkable experience, and exchange information with each other via the shared flow of people, thus facilitating mutual dialogue and coordinated development; Moreover, a coherent, welcoming and harmonious walkable environment can help improve occupants’ sense of identity with business areas.” By optimizing the spatial layout and traffic structure of Chaowai Area and further interpreting the functions of the four demonstration spaces, Yen highlighted how to improve the walkable experience of Chaowai Area to make it a model of demonstrating the beauty of art, walkability and life, thus maximizing the value of public space.
The renewal conception of Blue Island Plaza
Finally, Yen pointed out that the urban renewal of Chaowai Area covered commercial, industry, cultural and art spaces, community service facilities and urban landscape, which underscored the necessity of engaging multiple stakeholders. He called for the construction of a public platform together with multiple stakeholders, to achieve win-win results through “unified design, unified construction, and unified management & maintenance”.
With a view to urban public space, CRTKL shared a beneficial urban renewal practice in terms of vision building, space shaping and approach exploring. The Phase-I renewal of Chaowai Area has been launched under this framework. As a seeded project of business areas, it will benefit from the overall area renewal planning, and will facilitate the future development of the area.
The seminar was successfully concluded. We are looking forward to the new Chaowai Area with upgraded business areas in the near future.