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Department of Architecture

Hays Recruitment 2013 Award:  Dan Ladyman

Dan Ladyman, the Department’s top performing 2013 MPhil in Environmental Design in Architecture (Option B/ARB/RIBA Part 2) student was delighted to be awarded the Hays Recruitment 2013 Award. 

Dan’s project looks at the population increase of Beijing (half a million residents per year) and how the political, social, economic and cultural implications of this growth are being played out in the rapid suburbanisation of the contemporary city. The project tackles two distinctly different, but inherently interdependent phenomena; gated urbanism and the contemporary culture of consumption. The exodus toward suburbia has far outpaced traditional Chinese culture, by shaping distinctly unique yet generic suburban territories where the dominant urban typology - the residential gated community - has defined an introverted and exclusive relationship between the block and city. The project explores the political and economic status of gated development in suburban Beijing and investigates the spatial implications on either side of the gated block perimeter.  It speculates, theorises and tests how this particular urban condition could be reconceptualised, through a comprehensive understanding of the forces that shape it. 

Part of the reading of the economic growth in China has involved an in-depth study of the rise of the commodification of space. This commodification has involved a mass appropriation of western building types, forms and symbols, reinterpreted through the mechanisms of the Chinese building industry and the aspirational nature of property development. The project has used this as a starting point for a series of tests that involve the collage of western urban patterns – from popular international travel destinations. Alternative urban configurations reframe the gated block, creating new scales of urban density and spatial diversity within the space of the street between the gated blocks. Through a deep understanding of the contemporary suburban condition, the project attempts to redefine the relationship between gated block and city thus, challenging gated urbanism through the reinvention of the territory in which it is surrounded.

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