How can China improve living conditions for its population without exhausting the very resources needed to sustain a better life?
The official opening of the exhibition CO-EVOLUTION took place in the Danish Pavilion, at the 10th International Architecture Biennale in Venice, as Denmark’s official contribution.
The exhibition, the result of a project involving some of the most talented young Danish architects collaborating with students and professors from four top universities in China, illustrates the value of sharing knowledge, ideas and experiences across borders.
In this case the marriage between the Danish tradition for sustainable and humanistic architecture and planning with local Chinese knowledge and technical skills. The project also merges the values and aesthetic expressions of two different cultures.
Within the next 20 years, some 400 million Chinese citizens are expected to join the global urbanization race and the Chinese government has set itself the goal of creating appreciably better living conditions for its 1.3 billion-strong population. The rapid and extensive urbanization processes currently underway in China are vastly increasing consumption of natural resources, putting tremendous pressure on local and global environments. On one hand, living conditions have already greatly improved, on the other there are serious challenges.
The project teams, each representing a Danish architect’s office and a Chinese university, developed visionary proposals for sustainable urban development in the four Chinese cities of Beijing, Chongqing, Shanghai and Xi’an.
A proposal for a soft green revolution
Title: Magic Mountains
Team: COBE and Chongqing University
Chongqing, the biggest municipality in the world, is undergoing high-speed urban development. 50 million square meters of floor space and 500 kilometers of highways are being added to the urban landscape and 1,200,000 people are relocating to the city every year.
Magic Mountains is an urban design proposing a new “Green” Central Business District (GCBD). The GCBD district resembles the natural skyline of Chongqing, but with inhabited mountains. The mountain-peaks match the high density centres; the mountains lower reaches resemble traditional Chinese neighbourhoods. The valleys are green open spaces accommodating the “living machine” – a system treating wastewater and generating renewable energy.
The inhabited mountains will reduce energy consumption by supporting passive cooling in summer and passive heating in winter. They are interconnected by a system of bicycle and pedestrian paths, and an efficient public transport system to minimize the need for transportation by car. Magic Mountains reduces the overall consumption of resources and energy by 22% and substitutes 11% conventional energy for renewable.
An attractive green city on 10 million cubic meter of contaminated soil
Title: Performative Urbanism
Team: CEBRA and Tsinghua University
Fatou is an old, highly polluted industrial area situated in the green belt of eastern Beijing. The factories left behind over 10 million cubic meters of polluted soil, enough to cover the entire city of Venice in a layer 2 meter deep. Over the next 10-15 years the Fatou area is to be developed to create a new city.
Performative Urbanism consists of seven small urban districts organized according to principles of proximity and density to assure universal ease of access to public transport, recreational areas and the city centre.
Performative Urbanism presents a sustainable solution that permits the cleansing and recycling of polluted soil while simultaneously creating local jobs.
Performative Urbanism also demonstrates how the use of a natural water-cleaning system can supply the city with 50% of its daily water requirements and illustrates how the city may become self-sufficient when it comes to its energy requirements. The project operates on several scales; all of them integrated into the architectural master-plan to create an entirely new and beautifully topographically sculpted area in the generally flat city of Beijing.
An exciting new city wrapped in a beautiful eco-nature
Title: Shanghai SubCity,
Team: EFFEKT and Tongji University
Shanghai has become one of Asia’s top lifestyle cities, featuring high-end entertainment and modern living conditions. In order to ease the pressure on the city, the local government is planning a number of sub-cities around the Shanghai-periphery.
Shanghai SubCity is a visionary proposal for the suburban district Jiading, next to Shanghai’s brand new $320 million Formula 1-track. The project suggests a new type of suburb, a dense SubCity cluster combining urban and natural qualities. The new city proposal is shaped to resemble a giant logo, “Che,” the Chinese word for car. Besides serving to brand and identify the new SubCity, the shape of the sign allows close connections between nature and urbanity.
The green eco-park surrounding the city serves both as a leisure park and an eco-system providing the inhabitants with renewable energy, water and recreational areas. At the same time the park works like a vast geo-thermal energy plant heating the city during winter and cooling it in the summer. This will cover the 75% of total energy consumption in buildings which is currently used on heating and cooling.
Countering the Effects of Mass-Tourism
Team: TRANSFORM and XAUAT
Xi’an is the most important historical centre in China. It attracts ever-increasing numbers of tourists. The historical city centre is surrounded by a city wall marking the border between ancient China and the new China emerging on the other side. Besides being affected by high levels of pollution, chaotic traffic and constant demands for improvements in general living-conditions, the city is also under pressure from steadily growing mass-tourism.
Citywall is a project proposing a new city wall around the existing historic one – a 14 kilometer wide compactly organized architectonic “belt”, providing transportation, accommodation, parks and squares, information centres etc.
This belt will constitute a new infrastructure featuring light railways to minimize travel-time and replace the thousands of taxis now crowding the inner city and polluting it with noise and fumes. Citywall will sustain the image of a dense inner city while addressing the problems of noise and pollution.
The exhibition is also included in the 2nd Architecture Biennale in Beijing, that opened in September 2006.
The exhibition concept was conceived by Kent Martinussen, Commissioner of the Danish Architecture Centre, and curated by Danish architect Henrik Valeur, Director of UiD, who was located in Shanghai throughout the process.
The exhibition is sponsored by The Danish Ministry of Culture, The Danish Arts Foundation, The Committee for Architecture, Realdania, a strategic Danish foundation for the built environment. Engineer consultancy was serviced by the Carl Bro Group.