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Creating a New Model of Lifestyle

Time: 2021 Fall

Team: Esther Xie, Yingzhi He

Role: Urban Researcher, Designer

Tool: Rhino, Twinmotion, Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign


HYBURBAN is a new model of lifestyle that embraces social and ecological diversity.
In America, many face the choice to live in the city or in the suburb. People must give up one between the social life in the city and proximity to nature in the suburb. Hyburban is manifesto against such binary.

In typical suburban development, everything is spread out and disconnected. There is no interaction between programs and no habitat connection. We propose stacking as the approach to hybridity. By stacking programs, we create interaction between different programs and leave more room for ecological habitat. By decreasing building footprint, we connect the surrounding landscape elements. Typical suburban programs only hold single activities: shopping mall for consuming, warehouse for manufacturing and station for commuting. They are non-places where human beings remain anonymous and lonely. We preserve three main programs. Besides, we remove these programs in blue and keep the structures to allow future development. Buildings in dash line are demolished for open space. 

By stacking open space, diverse programs, and connection, we create three types of hyburban blocks that maximize interaction between different activities and users. We add programs onto three main preserved programs so that social activities can occur. Thereby, the non-places transform to organisms of live, work and connect. Landscape designs mediate between the dense blocks and mitigate stormwater runoff issues. Stormwater from uphill is captured through bioswales to irrigate the farmland and form a series of wetland habitats.

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What is Hyburban?

Stacking as Approach

Concept & Design
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Basic Elements to be Stacked

Stacked Cluster Typologies

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What it will be like if we put these stacked typologies onto the site?

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For the site strategy, the previous university avenue is transformed to a loop to connect the three main clusters: Live, Work and Connect. At the same time, existing wetland extends into the site and forms the island park. Landscape designs mediate between the dense blocks and mitigate stormwater runoff issues. Stormwater from uphill is captured through bioswales to irrigate the farmland and form a series of wetland habitats.


Connect cluster growing from the station is anchored at the north node to connect the city and suburb.

Live cluster draws residents uphill to our site with terraced farming.

Work cluster continues to leverage the connection of railway, while providing campus park for relaxation. Future development can expand using the structure of removed programs. 

How do we build Hyburban?

How do we build Hyburban?

Hyburban blocks can grow over time.

A roof layer serves as the plinth, separating the existing programs and new buildings on top. Steel structures grow on the roof and become the framework for future development. In this way, the suburban big boxes become the base for new hyburban blocks.

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Over time, for instance, the current warehouse will become a mixed-use office campus, and can incorporate new programs like exhibition and art studios in the future. The programs can also change due to the flexible structure.

Life in Hyburban

How does a designer's day like in Hyburban?

Hyburb can be a desirable living environment for people who seek a balance between social life in the city and serenity in nature. Imagine you are a designer living here.

In the morning, you can buy and eat local food at the open market on the shopping mall. 

7:00 a.m.


7:30 a.m.

On the way to work, you can walk through the farmland and see the wetland to find some inspiration. 

The office is five-minute walk away, where you can directly work with construction materials from the warehouses. 

7:35 a.m.


14:30 p.m.

When you need a break, you can go to the island park to watch birds. 

After work, you can go the connect block to meet your friends from downtown Boston. 

18:00 p.m.

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We believe that people should have the rights to choose their lifestyles without giving up what they need. By hybridizing, we create new options and provide more freedom for people to live their life as they wish.

Copyright ©2023, Qingyu Cai, All rights reserved

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