PDRc and Archiland to design new city in Tianjin to encourage overseas Chinese students to return post-graduation
This week it was announced that London and Shanghai-based PDRc Urbanism + Architecture and local studio Archiland had won an international competition to design a new Science and Technology City for Tianjin. One of the key reasons for this immense 40 sq km development is to entice Chinese students completing their studies overseas to return to China post-graduation rather than relocating to other knowledge hubs such as Silicon Valley in San Francisco.
Initial plans for this new community have been released by PDRc Urbanism + Architecture and the collaborating team are currently working on developing concepts for a 7 sq km portion of land as a ‘demonstration area’ which will eventually form one of the city districts.
Sustainability is a key component of the new Tianjin Science and Technology City and the two studios have incorporated green elements at every available opportunity. A surface water hydrological system will enhance and extend the neighbouring wetland areas, low energy buildings will be implemented across the city and residents will be encouraged to cycle or travel on foot as everyday amenities will be located in convenient distance from residential and employment hubs.
WAN spoke to Peter Verity, Director at PDRc to find out more about this exciting opportunity…
Which elements of the design will PDRc - Archiland be responsible for?
PDRc is working on this as a joint venture with Archiland, an experienced Tianjin based firm of architects, this integrated design team is fundamental in the success to date as Archiland bring to this assignment unequalled local knowledge and insight.
Having been selected through an international design competition we have now been retained to develop the strategic plan concept for the whole of the new city covering 40sqkm. The initial task is threefold:
• The design team have also been requested to prepare a structure plan that sets the context for the integration of the proposed city into the greater metropolitan region. This structure plan will determine the regional balance of land uses, integrate the public transportation systems and ensure the ecological balance of the sub region.
• In the context of the above the team will develop the concept plan for the whole of the 40sqkm site area and liaise with the statutory authorities during the assessment and approval giving process.
• Running parallel with this the team are preparing detailed plans and design concepts for an initial implementation phase covering 7sqkm. This involves environmental and development planning, urban planning and design, landscaping, development guidelines and concept design for key areas and buildings.
At this stage the methods of development implementation has yet to be determined but is likely to be a balance between client development, joint venture developments and development site sales with strong associated development design controls.
These are early days and for the moment the design team is taking ownership of all aspects of the planning and design, (urban and environmental planning, urban design, landscape design, architectural design,) though in the fullness of time we will work closely with the Tianjin based design institutes and we can also in time envisage working alongside other design groups both Chinese and international.
How will design features fit into the wider plan to entice overseas Chinese to locate here?
The proposed city is to be the major centre for research and development in Northern China. To this end it will be the location for the research and development of a raft of existing Chinese and, hopefully, international corporations. It is in close proximity to Binhai High Tech Production Zone which already accommodates 285 of the Fortune 500 companies many of whom may be encouraged to participate in the new city. The attractions of the city will be its location, amenity, design quality and the quality of life style choices for a demanding and educated population. In other words, rather like Silicon Valley, the new city will be part of a rich and diverse rapidly developing dynamic Metropolitan region that is already a destination of first choice for international activity in China.
The development area can provide easy access to the centre of Tianjin, the high speed train linking Beijing with Shanghai and the international airport.
NOTE: With a population of 13 million Tianjin is China’s fourth city and one of the four directly controlled municipalities under the direct administration of the central government. Tianjin is being transformed into a hub city for logistics and modern manufacturing in Northern China and already enjoys the highest per capita GDP in the country.
What sustainable elements will be included in the design?
• An extensive surface water hydrological system that will collect, filtrate and reticulate water and in so doing will enhance and extend the neighbouring wetland areas and their habitat associations.
• The plan optimises the flexibility to accommodate change and unforeseeable changes in demand, needs, technology and characteristics over time (Future Proofing).
• It is the objective of the city to minimise its the carbon footprint (carbon neutral) through efficient use of energy and resources.
• It is proposed that in its development the city will optimise on the use of alternative green energy, including energy from the underlying thermal aquifer.
• Environmental performance criteria are being developed to ensure low energy buildings and optimises the use of green transportation.
• Facilities are located such that the optimum numbers of ‘day to day’ uses are within convenient walking distance of home and employment, with (grade separated) primary pedestrian and bicycle paths through convenient, comfortable, pleasant, traffic free routes.
• Ensure that through design it is more convenient to walk or bicycle, for daily needs, than to travel by private car. All residential and employment areas have direct and convenient access to ‘green’ public transportation system running throughout the city and giving direct access to the metro and the’ Binhai Mass Transit’ across the broader metropolitan area.
When will the next concepts be submitted?
As noted, the design team is now developing a broader sub regional context plan while at the same time developing the plan for the 40sqkm development area this will then form the basis of the discussions with the statutory authorities and also form the basis for the on-going plan development which will be undertaken with the Tianjin design institutes.
How will PDRc-Archiland 7sqkm portion engage with the larger 40sqkm city area?
The team are preparing the ’Framework’ plan for the whole of the 40sqkm., The initial 7sqkm area may be regarded as a demonstration area that will form one of the districts of the city. In the light of the experience and response to this initial stage it can be envisaged, that set within the overall plan framework context, the on-going city implementation phases by phase may be adjusted and respond to on-going changing, technology ,demands and perceptions.
This flexibility in approach will ensure that planning and development strategy provides for a demand led balance of uses and necessary associated facilities such that at each phase the development is perceived to be complete. And that no land within any phase is allowed to remain undeveloped. Above all through careful planning and design we can avoid the need for the implementation of city wide infrastructure ahead of any phase of the development.
The concept of ‘future proofing’ - of a strategic framework plan that will permit on-going change and revision over time, rather than a definitive master land use based ‘master plan’ - is new in the Chinese statutory process and is calling for some ‘dexterity’ on the part of all involved.