Urban acupuncture is originated from an alternative Chinese medical science. This therapy holds that the imbalanced state is the fundamental cause of diseases. By putting the needles on some essential points of the human body, the Qi (energy) could be rebalanced, and the disease will consequently disappear. In this sense, urban acupuncture is a strategy which focused on some small-scale interventions but aimed to achieve a maximum effect on the urban environment. The small-scale interventions are normally fast-making and cost fewer resources, but the result is long-term and profound.
Chinese are the inventors of this wise acupuncture therapy, but ironically, they are making unnecessary big scale surgery in urban planning, which leaves scars on the city. The big scale deconstruction is deterring the city step by step, but it seems that many of us are not aware of that as we are keeping reconstruction without considering the dimension.
The city is a skin with texture and should be treated as a whole interdependent system. To locate the needles is the first step and where to put the needles on are spots where hold the potential richness to be transformed, for instance places with the coexistence of the old and the new, with the traffic problem brought by the modern life, with the fragments left by the deconstruction, the border between the developed and the undeveloped area…
The small-scale interventions could be just a new kind of urban furniture, a spontaneous activity made by a group of people, an art scape in the square or street, a frame for the view of a monument…it could be some real project or just a public activity with participation. Just because it is in small scale, we don’t need to demolish all on the urban revitalization and in this way, the energy is saved and the transformation could be more sustainable.
The small is not obsolete physical small, it could also be a district movement. The small is relative to the big. It is more of something that could be done easily and in a relatively short time. The effect could work directly and could also be a potential influence in a long-term acting like putting a catalyst for the existing fabric. In this way, different from the big scale reconstruction, it respects for the continuity and evolution of the urban development and it is a way of inclusion rather than creating fragments in the city in a short time.
The three projects in cities of Barcelona, Catania, and Beijing, varying from the locations and social reality, but similarly concern on how to achieve a better urban environment in an architectural way. As the drawings represented, a city may laugh when his disease is cured by urban acupuncture and energy flows again as a system.