REHABILITATING CHINA’S CRUMBLING HIGH-RISES
Technische Universiteit Delft
The project presents an integral rehabilitation strategy with a realistic, interdisciplinary approach presided over by scenario thinking and a cross-scale perspective. This strategy seeks to effectively combat the decline of high-rise housing in Beijing.
Prodigious numbers of high-rise dwellings in China’s capital are at an advanced state of physical deterioration. The upper socioeconomic classes are moving out so there is social deterioration as well. Not just that, reforms in the housing market and privatization of the housing stock have seen an increase in the number of stakeholders. Their conflicting interests have brought about a financial deadlock: no one is willing or able to invest in these flats. These processes combined are causing a negative spiral.
The rehabilitation strategy consists of three components and has been developed in a brightly coloured ‘street-wise’ style to engage stakeholders. Component I, the socio-organizational proposition, contains policy proposals for solving problems deriving from government policy, such as a lack of affordable dwellings, insufficient sustainability and a maintenance backlog. Component II, the financial model, seeks to empower, energize and facilitate stakeholders during rehabilitation. It merges stakeholder interests, phases value creation and introduces catalysts so as to diversify investments and enable a self-supporting business case. Component III is a hands-on, five-step physical rehabilitation method that makes rehabilitation simple, attractive and affordable. Residents rehabilitate their own homes as and when it suits them. A coalition of stakeholders rehabilitates the communal grounds and the high-rise in four phases: crumbling, fixed, better and ideal. Stakeholders can choose from standardized, customizable, industrially produced TOOLS and RE:NEW products. These are made in an on-site workshop using CNC technology, assembled by handymen or residents and installed in no time.
The rehabilitation strategy has been implemented in a number of case studies that demonstrate the potential diversity and quality of rehabilitated living environments. The case study for Dongsishitiao Jia shows one visual outcome of ideal rehabilitation and how it was reached, including new dwelling types created with RE:NEW products. These meet the divergent home needs of Chinese city-dwellers and include a hyper-efficient, transformable ‘home in one room’, a ‘room for rent’, ‘multi-generational dwellings’ where you can live together privately and all-in ‘one-family dwellings’. TOOLS have been applied in the communal grounds and in high-rises to address the decline, create an attractive living environment and merge stakeholder interests. Every cubic metre has been used three times over to make space for more affordable dwellings, attractive and functional greenspace, local facilities, commercial units, parking places and upmarket apartments. In addition, the property has been made more sustainable and its useful life extended. Lastly, the modern-looking pixel-like design realized as part of the project can compete with the new-build ideas of starchitects. So, start rehabilitating and give Chinese high-rise a future!