The world is getting smaller as populations are booming and technology is improving. The need to adapt to these changes and preserve the economy is crucial and is not just a personal agenda but also a public one. The answer may be found in whole cities being designed as one concept: Utilizing vertical spaces not just horizontal spread, and the environment as an asset not a dilemma.
China and Singapore are the first countries to collaborate and come up with a suitable answer to what future cities may need to be with the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city. The official website, www.tianjinecocity.gov, states,
“The project reflects two country’s strong determination in combating climate change, enhancing environment as well as saving resources and energy. Therefore, both Chinese and Singaporean leaders have attached great emphasis, and made important remarks on the project.”
Surbana Urban Planning Group designed the Eco-city as a way of meeting the challenge of a sustainable designed city with the incorporation of three main concepts that all surround man living in harmony with:
- Fellow man
- The economy
- The environment
The Eco-city’s planning began in April 2007, the initial ground-breaking was in September 2008, and it is to take 10-15 years to be completed by 2020 and is estimated to have a population of 350,000 people.
The Eco-city’s designers and political members chose the location to be close to surrounding populated areas, such as 40 kilometers from Tianjin, 150 kilometers from Beijing and only a ten minute drive from Tianjin Economic Technological Development Area (TEDA). TEDA was developed in 1984 as a free market zone in China and which is today considered to be Tianjin’s driving force behind its economic growth. Their website proclaims,
“The Tianjin Eco-city adopts a holistic approach, taking into lessons learned from Singapore’s own developmental experience. The approach to sustainability starts at the macro-level – comprehensive master planning integrating land use and transport planning, to ensure that those living and working in the Eco-city have a good living and working environment. Residents will also have good access to facilities like schools, socio-communal facilities, medical care, parks etc.”
The city’s program is based on nine essential environmentally friendly concepts:
- Energy Efficiency
- Green Buildings
- Green Transportation
- Ecologically Friendly
- Water Management
- Waste Management
- Economic Vibrancy
- Social Harmony
- Heritage Conservation
To meet all of these requirements Surbana Urban Planning Group has incorporated designs for a rail transit system, efficient use of verticle spaces and many versatile scapes, all of which are new design concepts that incorporate the green agenda that will benefit the people as well as their built and natural environment. Also the pre-existing Ji Canal will be retained, as well as the villages of Qingtuozi and Wugi will be conserved through adaptive reuse or partial rebuilding as necessary.
Another fundamental force in the Eco-city is that its inhabitants will be educated on ways that they can improve their living and surrounding environments. They will be taught the benefits of energy-conservation, of having an environment-friendly mindset, of being dedicated to the Eco-city, which means not driving in the city, called green trips, of preservation, and of the three R’s, reduce, reuse, and recycle.
The Tianjin Eco-city focuses on its inhabitants by being entirely barrier free, therefore allowing it to be accessible to the handicapped and elderly. Plus there will be subsidized housing, making it more affordable and class-less, and communal amenities and facilities will be widely accessible.
Overall the Eco-city has the appeal of paradise, a Utopian society, which can educate and delight those that live among its beauty. It will be interesting to see its progress and if this is the direction that urban planning should take.