International urban design competition
Status: Awarded
Program: Strategy for a sustainable self supporting urban neighborhood
Total area: 11037,76 sqm
Location: Shenzhen Pingdi, China
Year: 2015

Shenzhen is aiming at becoming a model of sustainable future city. Nevertheless the problems that it has to face are those of most of the fast growing Chinese cities that are attracting new masses of migrants, seduced by the promises for a better urban life after an unhappy rural past.
For this reason, Shenzhen is working on developing new districts through new forms of planning that could enhance low carbon and sustainable principles for a prosperous future and help the city to grow in a healthy way.

When looking at the main problems of unsustainable development in Shenzhen (as in most of the fast growing cities), we can list car based transportation, lack of multifunctionality, of natural landscape and arable land, social seclusion, too centralized business, lack of dynamism in its urban geography and, most of all, poor public space and human scale.
All these issues need a fast upgrade into new forms of living.
But when summarizing one of the striking effects of this fast urbanization, one special element can become iconic: high density.
Density brings social seclusion, lack of dynamic interaction, distance from the public space. It erases spontaneity and all forms of customization and identity, neutralizing any sense of belonging.
On the other hand, the skyscraper is a friend of sustainable urbanization as a tool to fight the historical cancer of sprawl in modern cities, where low density has proved to be the biggest origin of unsustainable urbanization. A horizontal city extends distances, imposes long transportation (increasing pollution), separates people and their chance to interact and limits the growth of local economy . It brings as well social seclusion and lack of mixture.

On this base then, if high density and sprawl represent opposites of the same failure, what is the solution to the problem of planning the future livable town?
The answer, somehow banal and generic, is ‘mixture’.
Mixture of functions, building types, infrastructure modes, density and green, social mixture, are the essence for a vibrant and entrepreneurial city that looks to grow prosperous.

But sometimes mixture is difficult to achieve. This is the case of many Chinese cities. It is the case, for instance, of Shenzhen, which needs to grow constantly but that needs as well to manage its land use in a wise way.
How can we intensify a city with dense new developments, avoiding the negative effects of extensive high rise life? How can we extend the city vertically but guarantee that the same lifestyle and sociality of old villages can be preserved?
That social participation, its dynamics, its networking, are the keys for Chinese growth in history; they are the ruts of its civilization, economy, family patterns and they need to be preserved in a sustainable future city.
This means that, when planning a future low carbon city, we need to think not only about technological applications to reduce the impact of construction, but think as well of new inclusive forms of living that can perpetrate social principles, pivotal for the local growth.

For this reason our proposal envisages the possibility to base this new planning strategy on mixing the scale of planning with the architectural type of the skyscraper.
The traditional urban plot becomes a piece of land that can be vertically multiplied, preserving the qualities of the district and its socio-economical dynamics, intensifying the use of land and produce a compact city.

We imagine a scheme in which entire city blocks correspond to a high rise floor, a vertical overlap of districts, a superimposition of landscapes, a vertical city. Here each floor offers the communal dynamics of a traditional village.
Not least the possibility to preserve the spontaneity and the flexibility of a village.
A floor can be developed by single investors, residents’ cooperatives, international investors. All parties can, by following the urban regulations for implementation, develop one or part of a vertical village.
The structure of the complex is based on very simple principles, inherited from the modern period: horizontal floors and vertical columns. In this scale context, these elements embed in themselves the structural as well as the technological and logistic apparatus that is necessary to support a portion of the city. These plateaus become the base for local flexible developments based on modular constructions, locally assembled, transported on site. A self buildable new town where modules can be prefabricated and transported on site, based on the most natural technologies and material applications from the area. Wood, bamboo, row hearth (or clay?) are building materials traditional of the Guangdong region.
The new vertical city could as well be built preserving local techniques, without loosing its image of modern metropolis but rather maximizing the environmental properties of local techniques, such as natural ventilation, energy collection and wall natural transpiration. All elements that, summed up on the urban scale of the village, will tremendously reduce the energy consumption of the district.

The vertical landscapes can as well supply all the necessary vital services and activities to help the self sustainable community, such as commercial activities, business, housing, social services, public spaces and, very important, productive agricultural landscape.
Beside the evident social benefits, this strategy has the most immediate effect of cutting on transportation. A mixed vertical city does not necessarily ask for long distance transportation.

Imagine how awesome it would be to get up in your house, have breakfast, bring your kids to the crèche right outside of the door and take an elevator to go to work to the lower floor village. Instead, you take the elevator to go down, walk to the subway and travel one hour to reach your work!

Compactness is the answer for sustainability. It sums up the solution to every problem, from technical to social and economical and it offers a solution for the productivity and the quality of life of the future city dwellers.



当探讨深圳不可持续发展的主要问题时(就如在其他快速成长的城市情况一样),我们可以举出:以机动车为主的城市交通、多功能性的缺乏、自然景观和耕地的缺失、社会隔绝、商业活动过于集中、城市地理缺少灵活性,以及,最重要的,匮乏的公共区域和人类尺度. 所有这些问题都需要快速升级成为新的居住生活形态。但是当我们总结快速城市化的惊人效果之一时,其中的一个特殊元素竟如此讽刺:高密度。


但是有些时候,混合很难实现。许多中国的城市都处于这样的情况。举例来说,深圳,需要持续的成长,同时也需要智慧地管理它的土地。 我们如何加紧一个城市的密集新型发展,同时避免大规模高层建筑的生活带来的负面影响?我们如何在竖向发展城市同时,保证与曾经传统乡村相同的生活方式和社会性得以保存? 社会参与度、它的灵动活性、它的网络,是中国过去得以成长的关键要素;他们是中国文化、经济、家庭图腾的根基,他们需要在未来的可持续性城市中得到保存. 这意味着,在规划未来低碳城市的时候,我们不仅仅需要考虑以科技的应用降低开发的影响,同时也需要思索一种新型的包容的生活形态,以它延续我们的社会原则,这也是当地成长的关键。

出于这个原因,我们的方案展望立足于这个新的规划策略的可能性,此策略将摩天大楼建筑类型的规划尺度进行混合。传统的城市地块变为可以竖向倍增的一个地块,在维护地区质量和其社会经济 动态的同时,加强土地的使用,产出一座更为紧实的城市。 在我们想象的方案里,整个城市区块宛如一层高段楼层、一个竖向重叠的区块、景观的叠加、一座竖向的城市。在这里每一层都具有传统村庄所具备的公共动态性. 同时也不排除保留村庄的自发性和灵活性的可能性。 每一单层可以对应单个的开发者、居民合作社或国际开发商。各方都可以,在遵循城市实施条例的前提下,对这样一座竖向“村落”进行一层或一部分的开发。 复合体的结构基于一个十分简单的原则,从现代时期继承而来:水平楼层和垂直柱列。在此规模前提下,这两个要素自动嵌入结构之中,此外,还有支持一座城市必要的科技和后勤设备。这些“高原”成为当地大规模建设但灵活发展的基石。当地组装,运送现场。一座可“自我建设”的新城市,在这里模块可以订制并运输到现场,立足于本地最自然的技术和材料应用。木头、竹子、排炉(或粘土?)是广东地区的传统建筑材料。 新的垂直城市也可以通过保留当地技术来建造,在不失其大都市形象的情况下,最大限度地发挥当地环境特征,例如:自然的通风、能量采集和墙壁的自然蒸腾。所有这些元素,总结起来成为城市尺度的乡村,能够极大地降低区块的能源消耗。 垂直景观同样能满足所有必要的生活服务和活动,以帮助自主可持续性社区,比如:商业活动、商务、家居、社会服务、公共区域和,十分重要的一点,生产性农业景观。除了显而易见的社会效益之外,此策略能够最有效直接地减少交通。一个垂直的混合型城市不需要远距离的交通。