BHI Architects designs an agricultural eco-city in China
The brief for this project was to design a 60-sq-km Eco City in Changxing, People's Republic of China, based on Urban agriculture and sustainability systems embedded into community growth.
The primary clients are farmers and small village communities currently subsisting from the existing agricultural land, while the present and future populations who will become part of the community through urban growth are considered to be a secondary client, in addition to the Government and policy makers who define and adopt the strategy for integration of the urban and rural communities thereby demonstrating environmental leadership.
This region is currently focused on village agriculture and industrial land use, each having its contribution to the serious pollution to the surrounding land and water bodies. The international concern expressed to the regional government was the catalyst for this international design competition requiring innovative master planning and urban design solutions. The solution needed a concept having as its principles social justice, environmental sustainability and food and water security.
The model for the innovation is a reorganisation of land into ecological corridors (refer to ‘landscape muscle' in diagrams) allowing a balanced community growth through a series of measures: continuing use of valuable agricultural land; continuing village lifestyle and social connections; strengthening of existing social fabric; food and water security systems; embedded agriculture connecting source to local population demand; adaptability of the environmental corridor to match community growth; integration of local infrastructure and renewable energy; dedicated transportation and service corridors; increased biodiversity integration with sustainable forestry; linear recreation zones with seamless connections to community hubs; renewable energy and waste recycling; increased use of organic farming practices and pollution reduction; and increased environmental awareness and healthier food consumption.
The environmental resilience of the ecological corridors serve to bind and sustain the community. This linear corridor intertwines through the community, providing local connectivity and a direct relationship between resource supply, consumption and sustenance, as a conduit of life.
The quantifiable benefits for this area are demonstrated by the more efficient land use supporting an increased population and agricultural production capacity: increased urban area of 188%; increased population of 1269%; increased agriculture of 74%; increase water systems by 334%.
Based on the provision of food security of 0.5 hectares per person for this green community, 34% capacity is provided on site with 66% provided from the city fringe agriculture.
It represents a new model for urban growth for new and existing cities that provides a solution for governments, under pressure to provide economic development and growth, while minimising the loss of valuable agricultural land.
The implementation of these ecological corridors into urban areas is a strategy that addresses the most significant environmental issue facing us all, that is the provision of water and food security for an urbanised global population.