1/12/2011

Shifting into Eco-city two Chinese cases: Tianjin and Dongtan

January 9, Design Talks posted BIG's interview on clean city. His concept elastic city that I remind the principle: "A 'elastic city' is a flexible urban environment to replace the current static one. By fully utilising information technology, driverless vehicles will become a reality. 'Smart tile' surfaces, a thin layer of reprogrammable sensors within the surface of roads, will coordinate the flow of traffic so that the city can be free of the clutter that supports driving. Finally, with a push of a button the 'urban pavement' can transform to adapt to our needs."
Why do I refer to this interview? The concept of elastic city reflects this slowly but certain shift into an ecologically sustainable city. What Bjarke Ingels proposes is nothing but an ecologically sustainable city with driverless, a flexible and interactive city. An ecologically sustainable city is also a city in interaction with its population by inviting the users to appropriate its spaces. That is a new way to build, live, experiment… the city.

With dpr Barcelona (Ethel Baraona and Cesar Reyes Najera), UrbanTick (Fabian Neuhaus) and Taneha Kuzniecow Bacchin, we organized a discussion on Ecological Urbanism (contribution have been posted in these blogs and in Urban Lab Global Cities. Please check out October 2010 in the archive section of Urban Lab Global Cities). Contributors all drew the same conclusion: a huge work has to be done to shift from cities of yesterday to ecologically sustainable cities.

I decided to present two projects, both from China. These cities, Tianjin Eco-city and Dongtan Eco-city, are a contrast to the huge urbanization that is transforming Chinese society. They can be considered as a large-scale ecological laboratory. Before presenting these two projects, what does an eco-city mean?
Tianjin Eco-City — Eco-valley, Surbana Urban Planning Group, Tianjin, China, rendering © Surbana Urban Planning Group. Originally appeared on archdaily.

An eco-city means building a city with better economic, social and environmental outcomes for the new generation. This city will minimize its required inputs of energy, water, food, and waste output of heat, CO2 emission and water pollution. A large number of research has been produced from Richard Register's Ecocity Berkeley: Building cities for a healthy future" to GSD Harvard's editorial project Ecological Urbanism. All state that an ecologically sustainable city is self-sufficient. Tianjin, Dongtan, as well as Songdo and Masdar will be the first eco-cities and needless to say that the number of eco-cities will grow.
Tianjin Eco-City — Overview, Surbana Urban Planning Group, rendering © Surbana Urban Planning Group. Originally appeared on archdaily.

Let's start with Tianjin, a Chinese city newly transformed into a green city. This project is designed by Surbana Urban Planning Group, a firm of architecture from Singapore. Tianjin, which will support 350,000 residents on a total area of 30 square kilometer, is also the result of a collaboration between China and Singapore. This project is based on three points: people-people, people-environment and people-economy.

This new green city development model used to be a 'wasted space', that is, low-quality salt flats unsuitable for agriculture. Tianjin Eco-city is organized in seven parts: lifescape, eco-valley, solarscape, urbanscape, windscape, earthscape and eco-corridors. The eco-valley will serve as a north-south green connector in the city. As for the concepts of solarscape, windscape, solar and wind power, rainwater recycling and wastewater treatment and desalination of sea water will constitute the frame of this new green city. Waste management (rainwater recycling and wastewater treatment and desalination of sea water) will be implemented with the objectives of reducing, reusing and recycling of waste. All these seven parts will participate to the reduction of the city's carbon emissions.
Tianjin Eco-City — The Urbanscape, Surbana Urban Planning Group, Tianjin, China, rendering © Surbana Urban Planning Group. Originally appeared on archdaily.
Tianjin Eco-City — Windscape Corridor, Surbana Urban Planning Group, Tianjin, China, rendering © Surbana Urban Planning Group. Originally appeared on archdaily.
Tianjin Eco-City — Earthscape, Surbana Urban Planning Group, Tianjin, China, rendering © Surbana Urban Planning Group. Originally appeared on archdaily.
Tianjin Eco-city — Lifescape, Surbana Urban Planning Group, Tianjin, rendering © Surbana Urban Planning Group. Originally appeared on archdaily.

Surbana Urban Planning Group designs a compact city with higher density buildings. A large number of researchers argue that compact and high density buildings, both, are one of the key elements to shape an eco-city.
Tianjin Eco-City, Surbana Urban Planning Group, Tianjin, China, rendering © Surbana Urban Planning Group. Originally appeared on archdaily.

This new city will invite users to appropriate the city's main mode of green transport network, consisting of non-motorised and public transport, that is, the light-rail system. This system is supplemented by a secondary network of trams and buses. The objective of this mode of transportation is to reduce the city's carbon emission.
Tianjin Eco-City, Surbana Urban Planning Group, Tianjin, China, rendering © Surbana Urban Planning Group. Originally appeared on archdaily.

Tianjin Eco-city will be completed with a subsidised public housing. This programme will correspond to the social harmony, one of these seven parts of this project. It aims at linking the housing needs of lower and lower-middle income strata of China. To reach this objectives, green social and recreational facilities will be created and address population's needs such as an easy access of homes.

Tianjin Eco-city is expected to be scalable and replicable and will be completed in 2020.

Another project Dongtan Eco-city, which recently has fallen behind schedule, will be constructed according to the same principle as Tianjin Eco-city: ecologically friendly, zero-CO2 emission, complete self-sufficiency in water and energy, zero emission transport zone within the city and zero-energy building. The objective is to reach 500,000 inhabitants by 2050, that is, one-third the size of Manhattan.
Dongtan Eco-City — Aerial view, Arup, Dongtan, China, rendering © Arup.

This project is conducted by Peter Head of Arup, the British engineering consultancy firm, in collaboration with the Shanghai Industrial Investment Corporation (SIIC).
Dongtan Eco-city, Arup, Dongtan, China, rendering © Arup.

The idea of this project is to be a driverless city. People will leave their cars to reach the city via green transport. They will travel along the shore as pedestrians, cyclists or will use sustainable public transport vehicles powered by electricity or hydrogen.
As for housing, the principle will be the same as Tianjin with green dwellings.

Needless to say that the discussion will remain open. As for the construction of such eco-labelled cities will grow up fast. It is to early to conclude in a positive note insofar as these city are not completed yet. But they open new ways of buildings cities with new approach, not only in terms of sustainable objectives, but also in terms of methodology. Eco-city obliges us to revisit our way of experimenting our city. Buildings that used to be qualified as high CO2-emitters will shift into low CO2-emitters. To go back to the concept of 'elastic city', it is obvious that these cities can be considered as elastic city…, to a certain extent.

The completion year of Dongtan Eco-city is unspecified.

Renderings of Tianjin Eco-city courtesy © Surbana Urban Planning Group.
Images of Tianjin originally appeared on archdaily.
Renderings of Dongtan Eco-city courtesy © Arup.

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