The winning designs for the construction and development of China’s city of the future, Xiong’an New Area, features an evolving landscape that complements the urban and natural environment, and seamlessly integrate nature into the lives of the people. The scheme will create an urban landscape that is to be a global leader for the future of the world’s cities.
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) alongside Tom Leader Studio (TLS) won the award for the design of the city from an international competition that had over 200 entries. The winning design was selected from among 12 finalists for its “global vision, world-class standards, sensitivity to Chinese heritage and culture, and innovative approach to urban design”.
“The principles of liveability, resiliency, and the preservation of local culture and heritage are at the core of our approach to urban planning and design,” said Thomas Hussey, SOM Director of Urban Design and Planning. “Our design creates innovative, new typologies in planning, landscape, and architecture, for new ways of urban living and working in nature.”
The city is to be located 100kms southwest of Beijing, located close to key wetland ecosystems such as Baiyangdian, the largest freshwater lake in Northern China.
The masterplan focuses on the area’s ecosystem and the experience of the people who will live and visit the city. Several urban design principles have been selected to optimise these focuses and respect the natural environment, including the creation of a holistic sustainable system, constructing green infrastructures and incorporating a multi-modal transport system.
Quality of life for residents and the environment will be the primary focus of the evolving city, with the continuous restoration and protection of the natural environment, including the native forests and wetlands, and the creation of open space systems around waterways.
When designing the landscape for the city, TLS made the following considerations. “When we first thought about what will make this city exceptional in the world, we asked ourselves these questions: how people will live here in a new way? how can their lives integrate with nature and baiyangdian? how will the new residents establish their social fabric? what cultural legacy will inform these new social spaces?’?” Using this as the basis for their design, the team created a natural framework that will define the urban form of Xiong’an.
Their design is focused on the idea of a “city for life”, which considers how people’s lives are affected by their context. The new city is conceptualised to be woven around native forests, wetlands, waterways and the Baiyangdian freshwater lake. The masterplan will see communities return to ecological living, where a direct relationship will be developed with nature that will improve the quality of life and wellbeing for residents.
Numerous trees will be planted along the shoreline, inviting native wildlife to inhabit the urban environment in addition to providing natural shade and cleaner area. The trees aim to create a “sustainable backbone” for the city and encourage biological diversity. With greenery deeply embedded into the scheme, TLS envisions a new future for the natural Chinese urban landscape.
The landscape design by TLS was inspired by the idea of “24 solar terms”, a notion that is deep-rooted in Chinese culture and aims to bring an awareness of changing seasons and the habitual conditions for animals and plants. With this expression of nature at the forefront of the plan, the project aims to consider each season and complement the shifts between the light, warm months and the dark, cold ones.