In 1953, Beijing's first urban planning master plan was presented. It would have a rather profound impact on the design and the functioning of the "socialist capital of the world", as Beijing was hailed at the time. The designs displayed here, drafted by the Huabei zhishu sheji gongsi 华北直属设计公司, one of the most influential urban design and architectural companies of the era, are all time stamped late 1954. I had the good fortune to find and purchase this very rare album (图片册) of urban designs in Beijing recently. These 15 design studies constitute a small but representative selection of what the album holds. None of these designs were executed, btw.
Note the first design which places a huge, ten-story residential block right next to the Jingshan 景山 north of the Imperial Palace. Other designs put the White Dagoba 白塔 into a different context, while the gaze towards the West Hills 西山 is moving over completely redesigned neighborhoods of fashioned residential superblocks and garden spaces.
It should be pointed out that all these neighborhood designs still take the city's wall 城墙 as the perimeter and "natural" boundary into consideration. The walls (and the gates, featured prominently in these plans as well) started to come down only 4 years later of course.
Thomas H. Hahn
November 7, 2008
© Thomas H. Hahn Docu-Images