The Edge of Freedom
This thesis is about a sub-cultural group of people who wandered on the fringes of Beijing, China in the 1980s - the Bohemians. This group of people mainly comprises artists, who pursue avant-garde ideas and free life. Because of their creativity, they can always make their communities enjoyable but also bring about gentrifying. Every time commercialization takes over their neighborhood, they move to another fringe of the city.
So the concern of the thesis is that can these Bohemian artists coexist peacefully with business? How do put an end to gentrification and displacement? What is their real home like? The solution I propose is a linear ring city where commerce develops along an outer ring of abandoned railroad tracks, while artists live in city centers separated by farmland, supporting each other without interfering.
The utopian notion of an anti-gentrification art city itself is as elusive and idealistic as the subject - the Chinese Bohemians. The cynical dance between commerce and artistic rebellion is captured in a seemingly logical masterplan that expresses both hopeful and hopelessness with an architecture that neither open or closed, neutral or deterministic. This ability to remain impartial is a clear position taken by Benjiao. This results in an architecture that is always on the edge, it frames the duality and possibilities but at the same time does not over project or promise. That perhaps is the best way to understand the future of the artist in the new the Beijing.
- Adj. Asst. Prof. Tiah Nan Chyuan