Beijing – Architecture studio MAD is breathing new life into conventional social housing, with a development in Beijing that connects 12 residential buildings by raised walkways and a floating park. The development in east Beijing, Baiziwan, is divided by roads into six areas that contain multiple apartment blocks. Unlike other housing solutions in the area, Baiziwan focuses on prioritising access to nature and communal areas.
The complex’s floating park features a looping red walking and running track, gyms, a badminton court, children's playgrounds, an eco-farm and a service centre. Each of these amenities are only accessible to residents, with the aim to bolster the livelihoods of people living in the complex. ‘[It is] very different from commercial housing, the apartment size is much smaller in social housing and you also have to control the cost,’ said Ma Yansong, founding partner at MAD. ‘By opening up the complex, increasing green space and vertical layout, it helps to improve people's sense of space.’
By embedding a focus on community and wellbeing, this project points to a future when urban areas will be increasingly designed to balance the needs of people and the planet.
Urban developers should consider creating similar nature-focused and communal areas as part of buildings such as schools and hospitals