One North Masterplan
The possibility of an urban architecture that exploits the spatial repertoire and morphology of natural landscape formations has been a consistent

The possibility of an urban architecture that exploits the spatial repertoire and morphology of natural landscape formations has been a consistent theme within the creative career of Zaha Hadid Architects for nearly 20 years. Indeed the very first moment of international recognition wasalready informed by a productive analogy with landscape conditions, here with geological form: The wining competition entry for the Hong KongPeak in 1982.The proposal for the Vista master plan - for the first time - applies the concept of artificial landscape formation to the articulation of the wholeurban quarter. The advantages of such a bold move are striking:Strong sense of identity - The scheme offers an original urban skyline and identifiable panorama visible from without as well as from the parkin the heart of the new urban quarter. The rich diversity of squares and alleys engenders a unique sense of place within the variousmicroenvironments.Unity in difference - The concept of the gently undulating, dune-like urban mega-form gives a sense of spatial coherence that has become rarein the modern metropolis. The regulation of the building heights is normal planning procedure and easily instituted. The powerful aestheticpotential that lies dormant in this ordinary planning tool has never been exploited before. An unusual degree of aesthetic cohesion and unity isachieved by allowing the roof surfaces to join in the creation of softly modulated surface. At the same time a huge variety of built volumes - tall,low, wide, small - is brought under the spell of a unifying force.Integrating heterogeneity - The softly swaying pattern of lines that defines the streets, paths as well as the built fabric allows the mediation andintegration of the various heterogeneous urban grids of the adjacent areas. The curvilinear pattern is able to absorb and harmonize all thedivergent contextual orientations.Flexibility without chaos - The proposed morphological system allows for infinite variation within the bounds of a strong formal coherence andlawfulness. This is a great advantage of working with a "natural" geometry rather than with a strict Platonic geometry. The form is "free" andtherefore malleable at any stage of its development while traditional interpretations of Platonic figures (squares, circles, strict axes etc.) are tooexacting and therefore vulnerable to corruption and degradation by later adaptations. The proposed natural morphology is no less lawful andcohesive than the Platonic system; but it is much more pliant and resilient, always able to absorb adaptations into its system of natural beauty.The idea of an artificial landscape formation occurs not only on the level of the overall urban form. Not only the mega-form but also some of themicro-environments could benefit from the landscape analogy. In particular in hub areas where one of the possibilities of developing could be tointroduce a raised plaza level about 5 meter above the street level. Since these areas would need to be well serviced by street access, parkingand deliveries, while at the same time aspiring to a lively pedestrian scene, it seems opportune to double the ground surface in these areas. Thiswould allow to bring the elevated APMS system onto the same level with the plane of pedestrian communication. These raised plazas would notbe vast, flat and vacant fields but would be articulated through terraces and gentle slopes. These raised grounds will be connected to the groundproper through the interiors of the buildings as well as by means of broad staircases and shallow ramps on the exterior.Within Zaha Hadid's oeuvre there is a long series of urban schemes, which explore various artificial landscapes as a means to sculpt publicspace and to impregnate it with public programme. These schemes manipulate and multiply the ground surface by means of sloping, warping,peeling or terracing the ground. Three important advantages may be achieved by such manipulation:The visual orientation within the public realm is enhanced by means of tilting the plane into view and allowing for vistas overlooking the scenefrom above.By means of a gentle differentiation of slopes, ridges, terraces etc. the ground plane can be used to choreograph and channelmovements across the plane in an unobtrusive and suggestive manner.The landscaped surface is rich with latent places. Articulations like shallow valleys or hills might give a foothold to gatherings and become receptacles for outdoor events without otherwise predetermining or obstructing the field.


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