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Students Win Second Prize in Shanghai Railway Competition

A team of four students – David Birge, Gabriel Kozlowski, Difei Xu (SMArchS Urbanism ’15) and Barry Beagan (M.Arch ’15) received Second Prize in the invited International Student Urban Design Competition for Shanghai Railway Station Area.

The competition asked students to consider the site of the Shanghai Railway Station in the context of a new master plan for Shanghai (2020-2040). The competition called for designs to consider both short-term and long-term visions for the site; it asked designers to improve connections with the surrounding urban fabric, to link the sites north and south of the railway station, to integrate the rail enclosure with the urban development above, to create small scale, pedestrian-friendly areas, and to propose links between the public, the railway, and the developer. 

The student project proposes four interrelated solutions — a new block typology to produce a continuous urban fabric, an architecture for bridging the rails and concentrating new activities, a consolidation strategy for the rail services to allow new public spaces for the city, and a plinth typology which mediates between the void of the rail yards and the city while providing a platform for future development.

The team saw the competition as a pretext for exploring new ways of intervening in complex urban settings through urban design. Recognizing the limitations of long-term master planning, the students proposed an a conceptual model entitled the ‘Urban Framework’. Rather than propose a singular vision to be implemented exactly per the designers specifications, the framework allows for coherence within the site and the surrounding urban context while offering varying levels of regulatory and architectural specificity. “Instead of master planning every variable on site, moments of concentrated control structure space so that an indeterminate future can unfold,” explains Kozlowski.

The Shanghai Competition is an example of how cities are partnering with universities to think about new urban conditions. The MIT team will remain involved with the development process that will take place in Shanghai in the coming years.