Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture is pleased to announce that it has completed a master plan for Chengdu Tianfu District Great City, a self-sustaining, environmentally sensitive 1.3-square-kilometer satellite city scheduled to begin construction this fall on an approximately 3-square-kilometer site outside Chengdu, China.
One of the first projects of its kind to be proposed or completed in China, Great City—developed by Beijing Vantone Real Estate Co., Ltd.—is envisioned as a prototype or model city to be replicated in other locations throughout the country. The development is intended to respond to the problem of overburdened infrastructure in many of China’s major urban centers without contributing to the high energy consumption and carbon emissions associated with suburban sprawl.
When completed in about eight years, Great City will be home to about 30,000 families totaling 80,000 people, many of whom will also have opportunities to work within the development. The distance from any location in the city to any other location will be walkable within about 15 minutes, all but eliminating the need for most automobiles. The city will also be connected to Chengdu and surrounding areas via mass transit to be accessed at a regional transit hub at the Great City center.
The project has been designed to achieve a remarkable series of sustainable benchmarks. Great City will use 48% less energy and 58% less water than a conventional development of similar population. It will also produce 89% less landfill waste and generate 60% less carbon dioxide.
“Great City resolves the relationship between high-density urban living and sustainable development,” says Adrian Smith, FAIA, who directed the design process along with AS+GG partner Gordon Gill, AIA. “This project will provide all basic services to its residents through a sustainable infrastructure that supports education, commerce, culture and an improved quality of life. It demonstrates how China can reduce its ecological footprint while creating economic conditions that are affordable for the majority of citizens and address contemporary social concerns.”
The project has been designed to conserve existing farmland, with more than 60% of the 800-acre site area preserved for agriculture and open space. The 320-acre urbanized area will be surrounded by a 480-acre buffer landscape, whose natural topography—including valleys and bodies of water—will be integrated into the city itself. Within the city, 15% of the land will be devoted to parks and landscaped space, while 60% will be parcelized for construction. The remaining 25% will be devoted to infrastructure, roads and pedestrian streets.
"The design is attempting to address some of the most pressing urban issues of our time, including the need for sustainable, dense urban living at a cost people can afford," says Gill. "Accordingly, we’ve designed this project as a dense vertical city that acknowledges and in fact embraces the surrounding landscape—a city whose residents will live in harmony with nature rather than in opposition to it. Great City will demonstrate that high-density living doesn’t have to be polluted and alienated from nature. Everything within the built environment of Great City is considered to enhance the quality of life of its residents. Quite simply, it offers a great place to live, work and raise a family.”
“We are extremely pleased with Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture’s master plan for Great City because of the firm’s world-class perspective and very high-level design experience,” said Vantone Chairman Feng Lun. “As we move forward with this exciting project, we are happy to face challenges together with the AS+GG team.”
The development program within Great City will include commercial, residential, office, light manufacturing and a medical campus which will provide health services to residents as well as a larger regional and perhaps national constituency. The city’s medical campus is also intended to address the needs of the growing Chinese demographic of young married couples who live in combined households with extended families that may include two sets of grandparents.
“For the first time in China’s history, more people live in cities rather than rural areas, which means that the country is in real need of examples of dense, mixed-use sustainable urbanism,” says AS+GG partner Robert Forest, AIA. “Our design for Great City is a shining example of what the urban future could and should look like, both in China and elsewhere around the globe.”
The city’s perimeter is defined by a clear edge, from which the city center can be reached on foot within 10 minutes. An extended recreation system connects the pedestrian network to trails that run through the green buffer and surrounding farmland. The infrastructure and public-realm networks include electric shuttles, plazas, parks and links to the recreation system. As a primarily pedestrian city, only half of the road area is allocated to motorized vehicles. All residential units will be within a two-minute walk of a public park.
“The sustainability framework for Great City, custom-designed based on the principles of LEED-ND and BREEAM, follows an integrated approach toward meeting the overall objectives of environmental, economic and social sustainability,” notes Peter J. Kindel, AIA, ASLA, AS+GG’s Director of Urban Design. “Great City will incorporate innovative technologies and infrastructure systems to achieve 48% energy savings of a conventional urban development.”
In addition to improved efficiencies within buildings, the city will use seasonal energy storage to use waste summer heat to provide winter heating, and a power generation plant will employ the latest co-generation technology to provide both electricity and hot water. AS+GG has worked with the infrastructure consultant Mott MacDonald on plans for an Eco-Park located on the northwest edge of the city will integrate waste water treatment, solid waste treatment and power generation.
AS+GG's master plan includes architectural design guidelines for massing and placement of buildings. Several international design firms, including AS+GG, will begin design work on the architecture later this year.