The Reconstruction of the Center Square of Chang Shou Park

-A Practical Case of Generative Design

Tian Yunqing, Bao Lin

Shanghai University, Shanghai, China


This paper introduces the project of the reconstruction of the center square of Chang Shou Park, in which the concept of "Generative" is experimentally applied. The author successfully provides a comfort, lifeful and harmonic space with varied details and forms by the method of "Generative". In the paper, the author also proposes some preliminary ideas about the collection of the basic element(s) from a real urban space and about the way to develop the basic element(s) in a real urban space. The author hopes that these ideas can contribute to the development of "Generative" method, especially to its development in China, where Generative Art (GA) is a quite new and unfamiliar thing.

1. A Brief of the Case

1.1 Information about the Park

Invested by the government, Chang Shou Park was established in Jan. 2000. Located in the Pu Tuo District, Shanghai, with an area of 4 hectares, it serves as an important public space for the local communities and the city. The park is just beside the Chang Shou Road, one of main roads of the city, and is no more than 3 kilometers away from Shanghai Railway Station. A lot of people visit the park every day and an official or unofficial activity is held every week.

   The survey of Chang Shou Park


1.2 About the Reconstruction

After 5 years of its establishment, the local authority plans to turn the park into a sculpture park with a theme of “Harmony” by the reconstruction of the center park and the installation of more than 20 sculptures made by artists from all over the world. There is a sculpture made of glass in the center square now and it will be removed because it has partially broken. The authority hopes that the square will be a good place for the citizens to take part in a variety of activities after the reconstruction and that it is more convenient to hold performances there. A new sculpture named “Harmony” will be placed in the square.

2. How the GA is applied

2.1 The Solution

From the rendering rendered by 3ds Max below, you can see the new sight of the park’s center square.

    The survey of the square


The major changes are as followings:

A lifted stage for performance is established with a curvy background made of stone. Clean water flows from a pool on the second floor, through the three rectangle holes of the background and into the pool on the ground. The water is recycled with the use of a hidden pump.

The original broken sculpture is removed and the ground is be repaved so that people have enough place to do exercises, to dance or do other things. The center pattern of the ground is specially designed. It not only looks similar with the removed sculpture but also has certain meaning which will be discussed later.

The curvy stand for audience is build so that people can have a good sight of the performances even they are not able to sit near the stage.

Next, well talk about how we come to this solution and how GA is applied.

2.2. The collection of element:

Element is the basic unit that can generate numerous “possibilities” through a certain process. The Collection of the element, the author thinks, is the most important phase of the entire process of GA because that it decides the points where the process of generating starts from and the direction towards which it will go.

First, as for a design of a real space, the element(s) should be characteristic of the place, related with the history, culture that the place belongs to. Or, it will be difficult to generate “possibilities” that is identical. Only if the element(s) is meaningful, then the “possibilities” can be meaningful. The process shows designer’s comprehension of the place.

Second, the element(s) should be as simple as possibleeven should be of impartibility. That is because the simpler an element is, the easier it is to compound and the clearer its character is. It’s just like an atom, which is extremely simple, can make up of almost everything of the world.

Thirdly, we can choose a special line or a special shape as the element to generate, just as many GA artists have done, however, we think that a certain kind of concept, an idea or a kind of faith and so on can also be taken as an element, which may even be a more ideal element.


Buildings like architectures or squares may have many different kinds of forms. However, all the buildings of the same area are the outcome of the working of the people in that area. They contain a kind of collective spirit when they were built by the people. At the same time, these buildings have inner connection to each other. People of the same area usually have similar faith, similar education background, similar thinking and similar characters, that is, each society has developed its own spiritual civilization. If we choose a fragment of its spiritual civilization as our element, then the consequent generated “possibilities” will be more identical and has much deeper connection to the things around it because all the other things are, in fact, the existing “possibilities” generated by the same spiritual civilization.

In the case of Chang Shou Park, we find that the original glass sculpture has a certain connection to the Chinese traditional theory of “Yin” and “Yang”. The sculpture’s “negative” shape and “positive” shape can be separately thought as "Yin" and "Yang"

 The original glass sculpture


The symbol of the “Yin and Yang”

Yin and Yang” Theory is Chinese traditional thinking of the universe. It reflects the basic rules of everything in the universe. The black part represents “Yin”() and the white part represents “Yang”(阳),meanwhile there is a black dot in the white part just as there is a white dot in the black part. The theory thinks everything has two sides which are both opposite and transferable.



2.3. The development of the element

Then, with the help of 3DS Max, we develop this concept (element) of “Yin” and “Yang” in the aspect of material, texture, size, color, shape, dimension and so on.

For example:

The main pattern of the square’s ground continues the concept with two material-glass and stone.

We use black and white stone tiles with different size to pave other parts of the ground.

As for the background, we use a kind of special stones with many small holes.

We make the tiles into two kinds- one is smooth and the other is rough- so that, you can see the subtle lines on the background.

People can see the distant sight or sky through the rectangle holes of background, which is attributed to the combination of the “negative” shape and “positive” shape.

The combination of waterfall and the stone background is another form of “Yin” and “Yang”


The simplified main pattern of the square’s ground


3. Conclusion

By the method of GA, we have worked out a solution that makes the public space with rich and varied details and forms. Each detail or form has the same inner spiritual connection. The solution develops the context of the place, contains the spirit of Chinese traditional culture and displays the theme of "Harmony".