By Tom Bannister
European countries sometimes do new-towns, often not very well. China sometimes does new-cities, often not very well either. Plans have just been approved for another one to arise from undeveloped land on the outskirts of Changsha, the capital of Hunan province. Other cities are also planned to be built from scratch, and, as the chief architect of the project says, the Changsha new-city follows a pattern of Chinese urbanisation:
Over the last 10 years, China’s cities have grown in two ways: by increasing density within the historical cores, and by adding new cities adjacent to the old. The latter phenomenon has resulted in a twin city paradigm. Thus, we have Shanghai’s Puxi and Pudong, Beijing’s old center and new CBD. Nanjing, Suzhou, Hangzhou, and many other cities have sprouted new towns.
However many Chinese new-cities have faced problems and the new Hunan one is particularly ambitious and complex with lots of potential for things to go wrong. It will be spread across 120 million square feet and eventually house 180,000 people. A mature urban infrastructure will have to be built from scratch around the centre-piece of the new city – the large Meixi lake. Encouragingly for future residents; the architect describes it as a ‘live test case’:
In such a new town, like Meixi, we can introduce integrated urban innovation: we can combine water transport with localized energy production, cluster neighborhood centers, advanced flood prevention and water management, and urban agriculture. Meixi is an experiment in future city planning and building. It will serve Changsha as a new CBD, but it will also serve as a paradigm for other Chinese city planners. It’s a kind of live test case.
[via] Architecture Daily