The cities of the future are envisioned as green oases powered by clean, renewable energy. A joint Chinese-Singaporean project hopes to provide a case study for just such cities. Binhai Eco City is designed to be an example of how cities can be completely green developments.
Binhai is located on the outskirts of Tianjin in north China and will be connected to another planned eco-friendly development in Beijing by a high-speed rail connection. Beijing Bohai Innovation City covers a planned 17.6 sq km (6.8 sq mi) and aims to set a new standard for environmentally-conscious urban planning. The Binhai Eco City Master Plan covers a much smaller 0.2 sq km (0.07 sq mi) but like the Beijing project has received international recognition, having been shortlisted for the World Architecture Festival 2014.
The Eco City development has planned green belt land to the north of the site and aims to push the green land towards the center of the site. Founder of project architects Holm Architecture Office (HAO) Jens Holm explains that the plan mimics an outstretched hand, mixing green and functional areas.
"This design allows the green areas to slide in-between each finger, inviting direct interaction throughout the day and night and creates five islands that house the cultural buildings," Holm says in a press release. "The direct access to the green surroundings makes the Eco City Master Plan distinctive and affords its future inhabitants a vibrant and healthy place to live, work and play."
Different ecologies will be spread throughout site. Amongst the planned landscapes will be trimmed grass lawns for recreational and meeting places, marshlands that allow water to sink through the earth, and flowering meadows. In addition, there will be cultural landscapes containing solar panels, geothermal fields, experimental agriculture fields, opportunities to learn about sustainability and new technologies, as well as activity zones for recreational use.
The planned development is raised up on a plateau, with traffic and service areas located underneath. Green and pedestrian areas, meanwhile, are made the focus. The plan includes a new central business district with office spaces and five new cultural buildings providing exhibition spaces, libraries, education spaces and sports facilities.
The buildings are all designed to minimize energy use and with passive building principles in mind, which make use of building's surrounding environment for energy and heating efficiency. According to architects, HAO, buildings will also use solar panels and geothermal heating and cooling to achieve "near-zero" energy footprints.
The World Architecture Festival 2014 runs from October 1-3 in Singapore.
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