New Eco-City Forges the Future in China

Masterplan for Sustainable Chinese City

Kohn Pederson Fox Associates (KPF) has released a master plan for a new sustainable city in Meixi Lake in Changsha, China.

Built entirely from scratch, the urban development is set to cover 120 million square feet and house up to 180,000 residents.

In February, 2009, Changsha Municipal People’s Government of Hunan Province signed an agreement to develop the city, which has now been given approval to go ahead.

KPF and engineering firm Arup will collaborate on the city, which will combine urbanisation and sustainability initiatives. KPF has incorporated design principles utilised in the firm’s previous eco-city design in Sondo, South Korea.

KPF wanted to build a city that brought people closer to nature and reduced pollution while supporting the need for urban development.

The plan illustrates an array of buildings integrated into an environment surrounded by mountains, lakes, parks and canals, resulting in a space where lifestyle and well-being will be front and centre.

Masterplan for Sustainable Chinese City

“Over the last 10 years, China’s cities have grown in two ways: by increasing density within the historical cores, and by adding new cities adjacent to the old,” said KPF principal James von Klemperer. “The latter phenomenon has resulted in a twin city paradigm. Thus, we have Shanghai’s Puxi and Pudong, Beijing’s old center and new CBD. Nanjing, Suzhou, Hangzhou, and many other cities have sprouted new towns.”

He added that, in a new town such as Meixi, new urban innovations can be integrated into the design.

“We can combine water transport with localised energy production, cluster neighborhood centres, advanced flood prevention and water management, and urban agriculture,” he said. “Meixi is an experiment in future city planning and building. It will serve Changsha as a new CBD, but it will also serve as a paradigm for other Chinese city planners. It’s a kind of live test case.”

Each ‘clustered’ neighbourhood will house approximately 10,000 residents and be differentiated by its design and environmentally sensitive architecture.

Water canals will weave between neighbourhoods, encouraging boating transport, and ‘green buffers’ will act as dividers to separate the neighbourhoods, contributing to the landscape-inspired design of the city.

Each neighbourhood will have its own shopping precinct, along with schools, community areas, and easy access to the CBD.

In a bid to meet planned efficiency targets, KPF had to seriously consider transport and how residents would move around the city.

Masterplan for Sustainable Chinese City

A 40-hectare lake will be featured in the centre of the city and will connect water transport to the different neighbourhoods, reducing the need for cars in the city. The CBD will also feature a pedestrian tram street among the high-rise buildings, encouraging residents to travel by foot.

Statistics have revealed that it is vital for China and many of the rapidly-growing cities around the world to invest in building sustainably to support a growing population.

The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that by 2025, China alone will add 350 million people to its urban population — more than the population of the entire United States today.

With cities consuming the majority of the world’s energy, proposed eco-cities like this are refreshingly developing globally.

KPF’s Meixi Lake project is expected to be completed by 2020.

Image Courtesy: Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates
By Angela Fedele
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