John Thompson & Partners design ecological town on China's east coast
John Thompson & Partners won an invited competition to design the first phase of a new eco-town in Suzhou. The brief required the incorporation of bioclimatic design principles, a recycling concept with supporting industries and a 'blue and green' infrastructure to support a strong urban form.
The masterplan draws on the practices' previous work for Eco-City, an EU funded research project that set out to develop a framework for sustainable development. The conclusion of Eco-City was the need to integrate all aspects of design and use of our living environments. In the proposal for Suzhou, this is reflected in a masterplan designed through integrated strategies.
The masterplan establishes a relationship between the production, distribution and consumption of food by connecting urban areas to agricultural land. It uses the existing network of canals for flood control, irrigation and transportation, enabling farmers to bring their produce to floating markets in the urban centres.
Agricultural land, green spaces, and water bodies are cooler than built-up areas and are interwoven within the masterplan to capture and cool breezes to reduce the ‘Urban Heat-Island' effect. The masterplan embraces the traditional Chinese principle of south facing, west-east orientated streets and combines them with bio-climatic strategies applied at a wide variety of scales to ensure the creation of comfortable micro-climates throughout the year.
A 'Slow-Movement' strategy, combined with 'Slow-Life' principles, is applied to the town's compact and functional layout to encourage the use of environmentally-friendly, integrated modes of transport. The main town centre is surrounded by eight walkable neighbourhoods, each with its own recycling centre and ‘Ecostation' that will process domestic and agricultural waste to produce soil for agriculture.
Generating income does not have to be at the expense of ecology and bio-diversity. Eco-Tourism, reinforced by Agro-Tourism, will support the existing local communities' traditional livelihoods. Tying these concepts together is an approach to urban design based on combining local context, tradition and an understanding of local conditions and climate with principles of European Urbanism.
Team: JTP (Urban Design, Masterplanners) Gillespies' Glasgow office (Landscape and Urban Design) Colin Buchanan's London and Shanghai offices (Transportation Engineers) Joachim Eble Architektur (Eco-architects) based in Tübingen, Germany Professor Yen-Yi Li (bioclimatic design and wind modelling) from Taiwan Shute University Professor Shuh-Ren Jing (hydrological management and waste water management), Taiwan Chia-Nan University of Pharmacy and Science