Nanjing II – Nanjing University 南京大学

By Bryan • china, nanjing, photography, urban planning • 6 Jun 2009

Familiar spaces become very different after living in them them, then visiting them after a prolonged absence. Nanjing University campus is a good example.  I lived just a block away from this campus for several years and walked through it or nearby it on a regular basis, drank beer in on its street curbs and had what would be the first of many unfortunate phone calls from my stalker…

Despite all of those interesting events, I don’t think I ever considered the campus, or even fully walked it.

IMGP0021  Nanjing University Main Gate – Apparently the 107th year is a very, very important year.

Nanjing University is a great example of an established, seasoned and integrated urban campus.  It’s gorgeous, probably one of my favourite campuses – yeah, yeah, yeah, and I did my undergrad at the University of Victoria, but I think it is an overrated campus – too car dependent and suburban…but it does have nice green space.

But I think Nanjing University has better urban green space – it’s definitely doesn’t have the natural features of UVic, but the green space is incredibly dense.

nanjing university 
A rough approximation of Nanjing University campus, in Gulou District – I lived in the block directly north of the campus. 

IMGP0023 
Entrance boulevard – most of the campus is a perpetual canopy of greenery and cooling shade.

Like most Chinese universities, NanDa is gated, with just several entrances, however I find the entrances to be very well placed and integrate well with the surrounding fabric.  I don’t think this was intentional, but what is there now is very permeable, utilizing numerous north-south-east-west entry points allowing for easy public access through the campus grounds.  This is in contrast to Fudan which retains a similar gated design, but isn’t nearly as permeable and in some instances the layout is incredibly inconvenient (the entire east side of Fudan university doesn’t have a gate!).

I’m still looking for the correct vocabulary required to describe some Chinese urban designs, but a strong commonality is the prevalent use of the super-block combined with an internal street network.  Shades of Perry’s Neighbourhood Unit – channel vehicle traffic to the periphery while encouraging foot, cycle and slow auto traffic within.

In fact, Dr. Lu Duanfang has written quite extensively about the neighbourhood unit in China, especially as it relates to the Chinese planning concept of Danwei.

Danwei is very interesting – possibly more on that later.

Anyways, Nanjing University also makes use of a similar form of this…umm…form.  Human-sized streets, alleys and lanes within the larger block with emphasis placed on cycling and walking but with the option maintained for auto traffic (cars, buses) when required.

IMGP0025

IMGP0063IMGP0052 

IMGP0027

IMGP0038

The NanDa coat of arms contains a tree – a very fitting description.

IMGP0049

The Greenland Plaza building the background – not quite finished.

IMGP0044IMGP0057 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Campus building restoration – fantastic!  More of that and less of this nonsense.  My camera ran out of power at the point, so I didn’t get a shot of the fully restored architecture.  Beautiful.

IMGP0058

It is an incredibly quiet campus, well shaded and cool – I even had a nap for about 40 minutes in on one of the benches (not the same one shown above!).

I had a post about the Queen’s University campus a few months ago.  I quite like Queen’s campus for the reason that it is so well integrated into the surrounding community with hardly any barriers to the surrounding residents.  But I don’t think I mentioned how damn gray the place is.  Aside from the rugby field, I can’t think of any significant green space – and the campus is over 150 years old.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

6 Responses

  1. david

    oh, my gosh. your essay really makes me miss Nanjing Uni a lot… let me think of the library near main gate, the bench I was always sitting here with some dudes and “evaluating” those hot chicks passing by, the basketball court where I were always barebacked in the summer, the Hankou Road where I was used to grab some real food there although most small restaurants have a oily spoon, the landmark construction (the one near North-east gate) which I am always aliken as ” a masked gangster ” not only because the upper part is totally entangled with some green plant but also because this is the nest of our biggest shot — the deans of NJU…

    Yeah, yeah , also let of remind ” Jin Yin steet ” near your former apartment and I oftentimes hang out with fiends in some bars there… cheap and nice…

    Damn, dude.. you really make me homesick…

  2. david

    sorry …. some typo in the last thread… anyway, as long as u can understand….. I just noticed that you has stalker before? haha…. that should be very interesting story there! I’ll tell you about it some day.

    • No man, I totally understood! Good use of colloquial English! Yeah, NJU is really great campus, close to some really great places. You’ll see it again soon. Thanks for the memoirs.

    • My stalker story…heh heh heh. Yeah, it’s a good one, and it is because of this website that it happened. Luckily this person is not from China! I’ll tell you about it some day.

  3. The paved pathways are gorgeous!

    Yikes, you had a stalker? Scary~

    • Yup – from your country, actually. I won’t say more, should I encourage this person to return!

      Oh, yeah…and David, congrats on completing your thesis…I’m still generating my proposal…..yikes….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *