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Nicolas MJ Lee

Nicolas MJ Lee

New York, NY, US

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Within the Frame
Within the Frame
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Within The Frame: The Countryside as a City

Zhengzhou, CN / Fall 2014 / Harvard GSD / Option Studio: AECOM Project on China / Christopher C.M. Lee, with Simon Whittle (Serie Architects) / In Collaboration with Carly Augustine

Project received the JCHS (Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University) Outstanding Housing Design Prize, the ASLA (American Society of Landscape Architects) Student Honor Award (Residential Design), and was nominated for Harvard GSD's James Templeton Kelley Prize in 2015. The project was also exhibited at the USC American Academy in China's "China in Flux: Mapping the Middle Zone" Exhibition in Shenzhen, China and is published in Common Frameworks: Rethinking the Development in China, Part 3 by Harvard University Graduate School of Design

With rapid urbanization rates and the social and economic disparity between urban and rural populations, influenced by the Hukou system, China is searching for new means to bridge this gap between the urban population and rural villagers. The government’s goal for Rural Urbanization looks to upgrade and consolidate villages to provide better amenities and services, make land more efficient to improve food security and to make the town more attractive to prevent rural migration.

The residential status of peasant village members allows villagers to own land as part of a collective, which enables them to live off the land and make a means for themselves. However, the advent of rural urbanization dissolves the definition of what it means to be a rural villager - by stripping away their land, therefore taking away their jobs as well as their way of life. We believe this shift towards rural urbanization is spatially unbalanced and therefore creating a rural urbanization in disconnection with all that is rural. “Agricultural land in China is often wiped clean of all previous historic or cultural significance to make way for urbanization.”

In order to transition the gap between rural and urban, we must distill and safe guard the traditions and characteristics of rural life in China. Learning from the tradition of city making in ancient China and the philosophy that underpins it, the Imperial city embraces ideas of Confucinist thinking, with emphasis on unity, community, harmony, and balance. Constructed from the dominant type of the traditional courtyard house, the scalable deep structure uses the idea of framing to organize, define and capture. Our design for the new town utilizes the scalability of the frame as a social and spatial framework to harness the ideas of collectiveness as seen in the rural villages. In delineating 4 edges, our strategy of framing is not to promote a dense urban core, but rather to use the frame as a strong, simple and clear architectural artefact to create an aesthetic and productive object through the use of landscape. 

 
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Status: School Project
Location: Zhengzhou, CN
My Role: Designer
Additional Credits: In collaboration with Carly Augustine as part of the Common Frameworks: Rethinking the Developmental City in China Studio held at the Harvard GSD by Christopher C.M. Lee with Simon Whittle in Fall 2014.

 
Satellite Plan: The project is a 720m by 720m square oriented North-South. A ring road on the boundary of the site connects to the existing roads on the east and west sides.
Satellite Plan: The project is a 720m by 720m square oriented North-South. A ring road on the boundary of the site connects to the existing roads on the east and west sides.
Site Plan: The project is a 720m by 720m square oriented North-South. A ring road on the boundary of the site connects to the existing roads on the east and west sides.
Site Plan: The project is a 720m by 720m square oriented North-South. A ring road on the boundary of the site connects to the existing roads on the east and west sides.
The Frame as Village: The frame as Village: a strong, simple and clear architectural artefact to create an aesthetic and productive object through the use of landscape.
The Frame as Village: The frame as Village: a strong, simple and clear architectural artefact to create an aesthetic and productive object through the use of landscape.
Ground Plan: The Outer Frame consists of Industrial program and Infrustructure; The Middle Frame contains 550 single family units and the neighborhood gardens; The Inner Frame houses 270 collective units along with 4 six-story towers brings the total number of housing units in the project to 1,000.
Ground Plan: The Outer Frame consists of Industrial program and Infrustructure; The Middle Frame contains 550 single family units and the neighborhood gardens; The Inner Frame houses 270 collective units along with 4 six-story towers brings the total number of housing units in the project to 1,000.
Frame as Boundary: The frame internalizes the expansive agricultural field into a delineated collective space for farming and living. Viewing the project from the exterior, the expanse of the agricultural field is uninterrupted. The frame allows for continuity and porosity of the border with a light touch upon the ground.
Frame as Boundary: The frame internalizes the expansive agricultural field into a delineated collective space for farming and living. Viewing the project from the exterior, the expanse of the agricultural field is uninterrupted. The frame allows for continuity and porosity of the border with a light touch upon the ground.
Axonometric: The strategy of framing occurs in various scales in the project- from the Outer Frame that separates the industrial farming and the town, to the framing of courtyard spaces in the single family dwellings.
Axonometric: The strategy of framing occurs in various scales in the project- from the Outer Frame that separates the industrial farming and the town, to the framing of courtyard spaces in the single family dwellings.
The Outer Frame: The Outer Frame consists of a bordered colonnade housing car traffic, entry points, storage, parking, infrastructural services and economic drivers.
The Outer Frame: The Outer Frame consists of a bordered colonnade housing car traffic, entry points, storage, parking, infrastructural services and economic drivers.
The Outer Frame: The Outer Frame contains the Economic Drivers and Amenities, and these programs activate the squares adjacent to them. For example, the Food Processing Center is supported by the Soring Square, the Supermarket activates the Wet Market and the library is supported by the Civic Square.
The Outer Frame: The Outer Frame contains the Economic Drivers and Amenities, and these programs activate the squares adjacent to them. For example, the Food Processing Center is supported by the Soring Square, the Supermarket activates the Wet Market and the library is supported by the Civic Square.
The Middle Frame: Nestled between the Outer and Inner Frame, the Middle Frame provides a more intimate neighborhood atmosphere for single family dwellings. Both the housing units and Middle Frame help define the space of the personal plots of land that is in connection to each housing unit.
The Middle Frame: Nestled between the Outer and Inner Frame, the Middle Frame provides a more intimate neighborhood atmosphere for single family dwellings. Both the housing units and Middle Frame help define the space of the personal plots of land that is in connection to each housing unit.
Housing Typologies: Scaling the logic of the courtyard house typology of pavilions and courtyards produces continual layering lending to a diversity of intimate atmospheres within the overall project. Like the Chinese Courtyard typology, there is sequential experience of going through thresholds of indoor and outdoor spaces.
Housing Typologies: Scaling the logic of the courtyard house typology of pavilions and courtyards produces continual layering lending to a diversity of intimate atmospheres within the overall project. Like the Chinese Courtyard typology, there is sequential experience of going through thresholds of indoor and outdoor spaces.
Learning from the Courtyard House: The unit plans are based on the ideals of the traditional Chinese courtyard house. Light, nature and various levels of family spaces are harnessed within the layering of the courtyard typology. The spatial layering of indoor and outdoor provides a gradient from the most public space of the street to the most private space of the bedroom.
Learning from the Courtyard House: The unit plans are based on the ideals of the traditional Chinese courtyard house. Light, nature and various levels of family spaces are harnessed within the layering of the courtyard typology. The spatial layering of indoor and outdoor provides a gradient from the most public space of the street to the most private space of the bedroom.
Landscape and Dwelling: Each household governs their own plot of land, and has the freedom to utilize it for agricultural production, flower gardens, or leisure patio space. This strip of land is 180 square meters (5m x 36m) and is bound by public sidewalks and passages.
Landscape and Dwelling: Each household governs their own plot of land, and has the freedom to utilize it for agricultural production, flower gardens, or leisure patio space. This strip of land is 180 square meters (5m x 36m) and is bound by public sidewalks and passages.
Landscape and Dwelling: Each household governs their own plot of land, and has the freedom to utilize it for agricultural production, flower gardens, or leisure patio space. This strip of land is 180 square meters (5m x 36m) and is bound by public sidewalks and passages.
Landscape and Dwelling: Each household governs their own plot of land, and has the freedom to utilize it for agricultural production, flower gardens, or leisure patio space. This strip of land is 180 square meters (5m x 36m) and is bound by public sidewalks and passages.
Landscape within a house
Landscape within a house
Landscape within a house: Landscape is celebrated in different ways within each household: an interior garden within the mud room, the building material acts as canvas for landscape to be projected on, and the pavilions framing courtyard spaces.
Landscape within a house: Landscape is celebrated in different ways within each household: an interior garden within the mud room, the building material acts as canvas for landscape to be projected on, and the pavilions framing courtyard spaces.
Landscape within a house: Landscape is celebrated in different ways within each household: the study room window on the ceiling frames the sky, the living room window frames the collective agriculture landscape, and the bedroom window frames a specific moment of the picturesque garden.
Landscape within a house: Landscape is celebrated in different ways within each household: the study room window on the ceiling frames the sky, the living room window frames the collective agriculture landscape, and the bedroom window frames a specific moment of the picturesque garden.
The Inner Frame: The Inner Frame contains apartment type dwelling units, and it also serves as the most public street; it is the main circulation path where users can walk from their home to any amenities. This veranda acts as a buffer zone from the collective farming landscape
The Inner Frame: The Inner Frame contains apartment type dwelling units, and it also serves as the most public street; it is the main circulation path where users can walk from their home to any amenities. This veranda acts as a buffer zone from the collective farming landscape
The Veranda: The veranda acts as the border between housing, collective farming and the movement of everyday life, capturing interaction between neighbors due to the overlapping of specific environments
The Veranda: The veranda acts as the border between housing, collective farming and the movement of everyday life, capturing interaction between neighbors due to the overlapping of specific environments
Collective Landscape: A circulation axis separates the collective farming into specialized zones. Greenhouses, solar panels, and farming plots are organized within the four quadrants. A forest extends into the project from the surrounding context and provides protection for activities such as playgrounds, tea houses, meandering walking paths and larger public spaces.
Collective Landscape: A circulation axis separates the collective farming into specialized zones. Greenhouses, solar panels, and farming plots are organized within the four quadrants. A forest extends into the project from the surrounding context and provides protection for activities such as playgrounds, tea houses, meandering walking paths and larger public spaces.
Living in the Inner Frame: Like the single family houses, the apartments are based on the ideals of the courtyard house. Partitions allow for flexibility of spaces within the household to become more private internalized environments or more open communal spaces while the deep structure maintains the rhythm of circulation and program.
Living in the Inner Frame: Like the single family houses, the apartments are based on the ideals of the courtyard house. Partitions allow for flexibility of spaces within the household to become more private internalized environments or more open communal spaces while the deep structure maintains the rhythm of circulation and program.
Within the Frame: In delineating 4 edges, our strategy of framing is not to promote a dense urban core, but rather to use the frame as a strong, simple and clear architectural artefact to create an aesthetic and productive object through the use of landscape.
Within the Frame: In delineating 4 edges, our strategy of framing is not to promote a dense urban core, but rather to use the frame as a strong, simple and clear architectural artefact to create an aesthetic and productive object through the use of landscape.