An Impermanent Reminder

Urban Bloom is a temporary fixture on the landscape of Shanghai, serving to remind of the importance of enjoying urban space. It is the physical manifestation of the designers’ vision for a new kind of urbanity, one that is man-made and natural, permanent and flexible, rational and intuitive.

More and more urban life becomes a negotiation between where we need to be, and where we want to be. The issues are about what we have and how much we don’t need. As life increasingly moves toward crowded cities, we are interested in creating a space that caters to enjoyment of that space, on its own merit and terms.

Urban Bloom is an experiment in urban space and activities taking precedent over a design’s intention or infrastructure’s needs. The only need here was for freedom, and the intention is joy. Urban Bloom renews, and invigorates, urbanism – in fact, the original location was a parking lot. Transformed into an ideal urban garden, and constructed entirely from artificial means, it is a project for a city that emphasizes people.

Balloon like shapes hold colorful foliage, and float above the courtyard like the leaves of trees, flooding the space with shadows and shapes. Rich varieties of flowers and vegetation were placed among the modules, and as they bloom and grow, the platform will be transformed into an open, welcoming garden.

urban bloom, aim architecture and urban matters, xxi architecture magazine

Anfu Road was a perfect street to introduce this concept, as it’s a popular street that mixes residential compound with offices, restaurants, shops, and schools. Thirty something slab towers sit neatly next to 3 story lanehouses. This mix of scale is quite unique in shanghai. Anfu Road is proof that you do not need to flatten the old city to create new life, or to generate prosperity to an ever evolving city. But what it didn’t have is a park. So why not create a place that cultivates this pleasure and happiness?

Visitors are encouraged to explore the space and interpret its purpose through their own experiences and needs. In the same way that certain city blocks flow with rivers of people, or flowers grow toward the light, the behavior pattern of each visitor, and the energy of the environment, will intangibly define the space and its character.

At the same time, cities are huge producers of waste and trash. We wanted this new space to be low-impact, and interact with natural elements in an artificial way – in short, proving it’s possible to make something new from nothing new at all. So much about urbanism is not sustainable – the pace of life, waste, cost. Designed specifically with the concerns of waste and consumption in mind, and every city dweller’s desire for more nature, Urban Bloom is entirely sustainable and relies on repurposed and recycled materials as its core. Recyclable wooden pallets are refabricated as a gently undulating landscape where different kinds of common urban scenarios are possible: casual gatherings, mini-lectures, outdoor theater seating, etc.