As one of the most important industrial sub-centers of Shenzhen's booming metropolis, Pingshan finds itself today at a critical moment: while it offers some of the most valuable developable area in Shenzhen, it is still also one of its greenest regions. How to bring together urban development with preservation of the natural environment to create a new ecological infrastructure?
The Central District will emphasize a new, low-carbon, sustainable model for 21st-century living. It cannot rely on lengthy and inefficient transportation of waste, water, food, energy, or people. A new kind of localized infrastructure can allow for the integration of both urban and ecological systems and – at the same time – create new types of public spaces and collective experiences.
This will allow us to “unplug” the Central District from traditional infrastructure to become as self-sustaining as possible, where food is grown, water is collected and recycled, energy is produced, and waste is treated – all locally. We also propose a primarily car-free environment, allowing people to easily and sustainably move between its neighborhoods. Abandoning both the suburban 'cul de sac' model as well as the recent era of purely formal plans, our new Eco City embraces the grid – the most flexible urban structure, used in the most beautiful ancient Chinese cities – as a template for its fabric to grow and flourish.
These initial strategies set the stage for a new kind of central urban district: Pingshan's Green Heart
Pingshan's Green Heart will be developed around three main elements:
- Eight Boulevards
From Haussmann's interventions in Paris to Beijing's Chang'An Avenue – boulevards have always constituted the main arteries in cities: providing structure, organization, image and underground infrastructure. For Pingshan's Green Heart we propose eight new kinds of boulevards that each combine these traditional functions with a specific ecological system, producing new forms of urban public space and organizing neighborhoods:
The Living Machine , for treating wastewater naturally; a hilly Linear Bike Park created from soil excavated for development; the Animal Corridor providing wildlife connections between preservation areas; a Central Market for local farmers; a series of public Community Gardens , combined with underground waste recycling; connected Rainwater Ponds that store storm water in fishponds; hydroponic Greenhouses above the sunken Longping Boulevard for food production; and a shading Solar Canopy producing power for the District.
- Eight Neighborhoods
Each neighborhood is directly accessible from the perimeter roads; its surrounding boulevards will give each a distinct character. Internal streets connect the neighborhoods. These are primarily for pedestrians and bicycles, allowing automobile access only for local deliveries or emergencies.
- Green Belt
Pingshan's Green Heart is surrounded by a green belt – delineating the area served by the new infrastructure and eliminating the possibility of sprawl beyond its designed footprint. This green belt contains local parking structures for residents and visitors and accommodates recreational, cultural, educational, medical, and governmental institutions within a campus-like setting.