The concept of a city has always been limited to the practicalities of expansion and growth. If a city is well located, it will grow, if not, it will struggle. The concept of a city has always seemed simple. Urban planners may have helped designed clever ways for the city to expand and grow, but at its heart, the idea of a city has always been simpleand like a virus, its primary goal has always been to grow and consume the land and resources around it. That may have just changed with Tianjin, the worlds first complete eco-city.
Going green has become more than a buzz word.It is more than a trend, it is becoming a necessary reaction to centurieseven millenniaof unchecked development and the consequences of the way we live our lives.Resources are becoming more scarce, and the sprawl of humanity continues to roll over the dwindling recesses of nature still left undamaged by the weight of our own civilizations.As long as the current rate of birth remains steady, nature will continue to feel the brunt of that expansionit is sadly unavoidable as things stand today.
But a company called Surbana Urban Planning Group has a plan that will strike a balance between urban development and nature, and is hoping to develop a not just a new city, but a new type of city altogether. It could even lead to a new way of thinking about what a city is. The group has been retained by the Chinese government to help build an eco-city in Tianjin, China, a megacity on the northeastern coast of the country. If the eco-city can deliver on what it is promising, it will become a self-sustained metro area that could be a glimpse at what the future of all urban expansion will be.
Using solar and wind power, rainwater recycling, and treatments of both wastewater and sea water, the eco-city would power itself naturally by using sources of energy that are far less harmful to the environment than most current forms of energy production. The Chinese government is committed to reducing the carbon emissions of the city as well as the demand on resources to power it. Part of that cut in emissions will be due to the heavy emphasis being placed on public transportation. AS such, the Chinese government has committed itself to building enough public transportation that 90-percent of all traffic will be on public transport.
Another key factor in the development is the emphasis on vertical space. Rather than simply adding new skyscrapers, each building will be connected to the city through bridges linking the buildings together, high speed trains, and underground walk ways.The city will resemble a multi-layered honeycomb, with areas designed specifically to function on multiple vertical levels.
The town will be split into several distinct sections, including the Lifescape, Eco-Valley, Solarscape, Urbanscape, Windscape and Eco-Corridors all spreading over a 30 kilometers near a lake, in an area that is currently a village suburb of Tianjin.
Each district will have its own specialties: the Windscape corridor will be the hub for a light rail system as well as an area of public parks, the Eco-Valley will be an 11-kilometer long transit corridor, while the Earthscape would be a primarily residential area that utilizes as much public green space as possible.The Solarscape, located on the water, is designed as the primary administrative and civic center and would contain several areas for people to gather, including a massive floating stage. The Lifescape will be an area of soil and natural growth, specifically designed to offset the larger buildings in the other districts.
The Urbanscape would be the downtown and act as the core of the city, with skyscrapers and high rises housing business and residences. Vertical layers of residential blocks would be connected by a network of sky bridges. From the Urbanscape the rest of the city would spill out of, making it the heart of the new eco-city.
When completed, the new city-within-a-city is expected to house 350,000 people and could be the new model for cities that are expanding beyond the natural limits of their geography, as well as those that are becoming dangerously polluted do to the sheer volume of people. Tianjin is home to nearly 12.3 million people, and to put that in perspective, that ranks as only the sixth largest city in China(although it is fifth in terms of urban area).
The eco-city is being designed by the Surbana Urban Planning Group, a government owned firm headquartered in Singapore with offices in China, India, Brunei, Malaysia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Vietnam. The group has won several awards for its work in Southeast Asia, especially Singapore, where the physical geography of the land severely limits the growth that the city of 4.5 million is experiencing.Using Singapore as a laboratory of sorts, Surbana has become one of the premiere design firms when it comes to planning for sustainability.
The eco-city is for more than just pride and experimentation.As China specifically, and the rest of the world in general, continue to expand their cities, the energy required to power those cities is also jumping exponentially.The move to the eco-design is not just one that appeals to the naturalists worried about the degradation of the planet, but to pragmatists that recognize the necessity to change the way structures are being built if for no other reason than because of increasing costs of things like oil.Most new construction projects are putting a heavy emphasis on making the buildings they are creating more eco-friendly, primarily because it is more efficient.
While the Tianjin project goes beyond the current ideas for creating a sustainable building, the concept is intriguing.By specifically constructing a city that could be self-sustaining, it eases the need for resources of course, but the new city will also utilize themodern ways to build buildings that are more sustainable.That will make the heating more efficient, as well as the air circulation, plus the building will channel theenergyit needs more effectively. That means that the buildings will use less energy and put off less pollution.The new eco-city is the pinnacle of that ideology and technology.
The Tianjin eco-city is now beginning the early stages of construction, and plans to be completed by 2020.