Tianjin Eco-City
The 30 square kilometre Tianjin Eco-City is to serve as a model for future developing Chinese cities. As China rapidly modernises, there is need to create a sustainable city model as increasing rural-urban migration places pressures and demands on overtaxed and crowded existing cities. Situated 45 kilometres from Tianjin City and 150 kilometres from the Chinese capital of Beijing, the site of the Tianjin Eco-City is just a 10 minutes drive from the business parks at the Tianjin Economic-Development Area. Expected to house 350,000 residents when the project is fully completed in 2020, the Tianjin Eco-City is based on the key tenets of people-people, people-environment and people-economy harmony. With 26 Key Performance Indicators (KPI) governing its developmental approaches towards a replicable, scalable and practical eco-city, the Tianjin Eco-City will be the prototype upon which future Chinese cities are modelled upon. The Concept A conscious effort was made not to create a generic city devoid of humanising features or cognitive characteristics, one that is replicated ad infinitum in cities of rapidly developing economies. With the aim of creating a sense of place, the urban design of the scheme is driven by a set of coordinated solutions with themes based on the key components of an “eco system’. This approach, when executed in its totality, is expected to aid in creating the image of a distinctive eco-city. Urban design is about place-making; the proposal sought to create a cognitive identification for the Eco-City through mental relationships, physical planning and visual cues. These three approaches work in tandem to foster cognitive relationships in the minds of residents, creating a sense of place that users of the public spaces can identify with. Pragmatic and allegorical aspects of ecology, representing the different aspects of a distinctly Chinese eco-city, are selected as themes for the key areas. Lifescape Located at the heart of the Eco-City, at the confluence of the historical Ji Canal and one of its meanders that has created the island upon which the Lifescape is situated, this conference and exposition centre is like a germinating seed, ready to burst from the ground. Surrounded by greenery, the architecture is a series of soil-topped mounds, where the low forms of the Lifescape create a sharp contrast with the neighbouring sites of high rises and dense buildups. Eco-Valley Emanating from the Lifescape and extending 5 kilometres north and south-wards is the Eco-Valley, an 11-kilometre long manmade channel that traverses the site longitudinally. Serving as a transit corridor from which a light rail transit system operates, the Eco-Valley physically connects the key developments within the Eco-City, allowing residents to easily commute within the site, as well as connect to neighbouring townships and surrounding developments. Interwoven within the 2oo-meter-wide Eco-Valley are the ‘green’ and ‘urban’ spines. The green spine acts as both a recreational park-scape, green buffer as well as an ecological corridor through which flora and fauna can propagate and traverse through the Eco-City. The urban spine consisting of footpaths, cycling tracks and communal facilities, run parallel to the green spine, while occasionally intersecting the green spine in the form of minimal impact boardwalks or underpasses in order to connect to surrounding developments. Solarscape To the north of the Lifescape is the Solarscape, the administrative and civic centre of the Eco-City. Located at the waterfront of this municipal and commercial development is a floating stage where celebrations and events can take place, with the Lifescape and the city centre as a backdrop. The radial streets are positioned like the markers on a sundial; at specific times of the day a spire at the south end of the street will cast a shadow down the street, indicating time and the different equinoxes throughout the year. Urbanscape Utilizing the concept of a compact, multilayered city, the Urbanscape is a dense, compact city core where facilities are located within close proximity of each other. Programs are stacked, layered and interconnected by sky-bridges at multiple levels to make efficient use of vertical space, creating an urban core that reduces the need for motorized transport as well as making maximum use of land. Taking the form of a honeycomb, this configuration allows for efficient placement of buildings, maximizing frontage while increasing accessibility as infrastructure and programs are not restrictively organized along a linear street. Earthscape The residential sub-centre alludes to a paddy field; a series of terraces flank the Eco-Valley and the light-rail station in the centre of the parcel. This courtyard arrangement is intrinsically Chinese, and it creates a protected public space that is segregated from the surrounding roads. Having such a stepped architecture also maximizes green and public space, with expansive and picturesque views that open out to parks. Windscape A century-old village surrounded by a small lake, the Qingtuozi village is transformed into an ideal venue for recreation and relaxation. Echoing the salt pans that used to dot the landscape, the decking across the water recreates the grid of the salt pans and farms. Intent on preserving the memory-of-place and avoiding the tabula rasa so prevalent in developing cities, new buildings respect the footprints of previous buildings, preserving the intimate spaces found in fishing villages of a bygone era. Eco-Corridors Bisecting the site are 4 Eco-Corridors, each themed with the key features of the development that they connect to, the Eco-Corridors are biodiversity corridors, allowing flora and fauna to propagate throughout the site without hindrance from human activities. Coloured with vegetation representing the 4 seasons, the Eco-Corridor also serves as relief spaces within the Eco-City where minimal, low impact activities can take place. This set of coordinated, integrated urban design solutions for the Eco-City creates a liveable, imagable city that transcends pragmatic practicality to imbue a sense of belonging for the residents. The thematic approach aims to create an affinity between residents and the ecology, fostering greater awareness in the preservation of the ecological, social and historical heritage of the site. It is in fostering this affinity that insures the future, long-term success of the Eco-City.

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