Polar-IJ 2050





Name:Chang Liu



Name:Cai Huang

Nationality: Chinese


Name:Yuchen Li

Nationality: Chinese


Name:Aijing Sun

Nationality: Chinese


-HONOURABLE MENTION of Community 2050 Competition | Category: Open


From a harbourfront to residential site, Ijplein accepted its new role in the 1980s, by providing affordable apartments when the city Amsterdam encountered an urgent housing shortage. While it is today, instead of being a social housing plug-in to Amsterdam Central, Ijplein should answer a ringing call from the future to bring itself back as a participant in a more inclusive and healthier era ahead.


City is a mixture?


For decades, urban designers have a general agreement that the more elements have mixed, the more active the community becomes. Looking at Ijplein, we see public functions and open spaces were designed mixed with housing volumes, which was believed to be  a nice representation of “inclusiveness” and “healthiness”. Eventually it turned out to be the opposite. The open public and landscape elements now recognized as fragments, small-scale and scattered public services didn’t establish a strong tie to concentrate activities,  which caused segregation and isolation physically and socially. This fact makes us question: why the mix in Ijplein is so powerless to promote the locality? And is there another way to thrive the community by placing a balance of build and unbuild?


City is a complex!


To combat this ambiguous mixity, we endavor to concentrate long existing character of Ijplein on 2 characterized poles, and push it to the extreme. In this way we can greatly broaden the spectrum of urban experience in Ijplein, while enhance the identity of the neighborhood. The Urban Wilderness represents a dynamic and continuous micro topography with minimized human intervention, creating an ecosystem with diverse habitats. On the other hand, the Urban Wonderland delivers a vibrant community center as an inclusive destination with maximized human intervention, establishing a productive energy hub. The concentration of the two domains allows the value from nature and publicness mostly enlarged in the community 


‘Two Poles’


We locate the 2 poles at the lawn next to Hollandia Kattenburgpad, and the Motorkannaal. Both locations were designed to combine nature and man-made spatial features, however failed  to bring out the maximum potential of either side. With relative big surface area, the lawn and the canal end up becoming another monotonous under-used open space in this neighborhood.

The Urban Wilderness as a nature pole represents not a static image but a complex and dynamic system in which human intervention is maximumly excluded. Relying on its high complexity, the landscape system dominated by natural processes provides essential ecological values. A sequence of strategies is applied to create the conditions for natural things to happen. The variations of water and land conditions construct diverse habitats where high biodiversity is maintained. On the other hand, the natural system contributes to a cleaner and healthier living environment for people and brings a sublime quality into the city center. It is considered significant in the future to help people gain respect for nature through the designed uncertainties. 

The Urban Wonderland as an artificial pole explores the limit of dense urban dwelling recreation complexity, where human activities are to the largest extend facilitated and enhanced. The development of self-drive traffic provides the possibility of a parking-free community. Enormous land next to Motorkanaal will be open for much more diverse urban experience.  Series of programs are introduced to the site to embrace and enhance the well-established show business, water sport tradition in this community. Parking lots are transformed into theater and cinema. Footpaths and pedestrian bridges divide the water surface into 5 fragments with different depth suitable for wide ranges of water sports from sailing to high diving. Adjacent to them locate commercial spaces, restaurants, and community library.  On top of the public programs sits an apartment complex providing living spaces for young workers and expats.  Extreme urban diversity makes Urban Wonderland  an energy hub for the whole Ijplein community.




In here, Ijplein, we‘re freeing ourselves as designers from a mindset, a routine that appears to us often as the easiest way to add “quality” to our work by adding ambiguous mixity. However our final concept of the two poles explore an extension of local potentials, expanding the range and maximizing the value on both natural and urban sides, attracting other public spaces to create a complex urban spectrum.


#community thriving #social inclusiveness #ecology #health #public space


Jury Comments

– Vicente Guallart

There is no room for ambiguity or mediocrity in the Polar project, which states its intention as a bold reclamation of exaggeration and audacity within public design. Instead of choosing a middle ground, splicing elements of “human” and “non-human” into a bland mix, each element is permitted to exaggerate and express itself to its fullest potential. As a conceptual proposal as well as a designed space, this project embodies the bold thinking required to design in the anthropocene.


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