Urban Regeneration for Sanlitun

Hengjun Xu

Urban Design in the Pacific Rim--Beijing


Roy Strickland


This thesis project proposes a prototype for the urban renewal that takes place in Sanlitun (embassy district) in Beijing, the capital city of the People's Republic of China. The embassy district is located inside the east side of the city’s Third Ring Road, and it is the commercial, fashion, and nightlife center in Beijing. However, the embassy district can no longer meet people’s needs as the city is developing rapidly. With the increasing commercial demands and the lack of communal and walkable spaces, the diplomatic district functions as a test field, opening opportunities to incorporate high-density residential spaces and commercial areas, create walkable environments, and offer communal spaces for people in various ages.

The design starts from moving the existing ring roads to underground and creating new blocks on the existing ring roads. This approach removes the edge created by ring roads and establishes a connection between the adjacent areas while increasing property values. The new blocks are filled with public-activated spaces and different programs to accomplish different needs. Meanwhile, smaller blocks are created by utilizing the existing private roads to encourage different uses and promote a walkable environment. Certain embassy buildings are preserved for renovation, and the fences around them are removed to build an engaging and inviting relationship with urban space. The abundant trees on the site are either preserved or transplanted to create an environment for people to engage with the natural environment in an urban context. Furthermore, this project suggests new architectural forms for different building types including office buildings, civic buildings, mixed-use buildings, and residential buildings. These building typologies have various public spaces for people to engage with urban spaces. The variety of spatial experience and building typologies suggest a new urban environment for a rapidly growing city.
Isometric Drawing of the Project’s Northeast Area