Xi Ba He
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Xi Ba He depicts a typical Beijing-style residential community built in the 1990s. Old buildings and simple facilities do not prevent the residents from living a happy life. Every day people walk their dogs in the garden, fly their pigeons on the balcony, or hold their cats in the sun. At that time Li was going to take part in an international city concept design competition with Environmental Zoo as the theme. So he decided to make the daily life around him as the subject for his submission. He imagined a boundless zoo inside the city. It is a paradise for animals and a city for human at the same time, without the fence between animals and human in the regular zoos. In this new community, all the facilities are not only built for human, but also take into consideration the need by animals living in the same community, e.g. the shelters for pigeons, cats and dogs, animal hospitals, and animal control center. He even planned shelters for horses and goats and made a mini farm for them. The real environment of Xi Ba He becomes the base for this scenario where reality and imagination are merged with each together. This looks as if a beautiful fairy tale, but we shall never underestimate the potential of “stories”. As commented by architect Wang Xin, “(story) is always a long-term fulcrum for a city…is a invisible city structure…With stories, we will see life.”