The Chinese Society for Urban Studies (CSUS), the Center for Design & the City at the American Architectural Foundation (AAF), and OTIS hosted the first Sino-U.S. City Design Summit in Zhuhai, China, July 16–17, 2013. The Summit was held in conjunction with the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development’s 2013 Conference on Urban Development and Planning. The Conference drew an audience of more than 1,500 Chinese mayors, government officials, developers, and city planners. At the Summit, delegate Sylvester Wong of Gensler considered the next generation eco-city.
Technologies come and go, but people and culture are at the heart of cities that last thousands of years. Leapfrog beyond “Eco-city 2.0: the Smart City,” and you will see how efforts in the U.S. and China are focusing on the patterns of people and life.
Key lessons come from work underway in several places:
- Los Angeles, where planning for health focuses on sustaining the one resource at the heart of saving all other resources: ourselves.
- Chicago, where the sprawling metropolis is reconnecting to its cultural heart to maintain economic relevance in a fast-changing global economy.
- Langfang, where solving the fundamental problem of a land sinking into the earth form the basis for greenways, blueways, and village destinations.
- Zhuhai, where the focus on density and knowledge economies can keep the green land to floor area ratio high and competitive.
These examples have the “Eco-city 3.0 Factor” (FCTR): fundamental, championed, tailored, and rooted.
- Fundamental—focusing on one big move for the one big challenge
- Championed—process and institutions that empower generations
- Tailored—answering the geo-economically unique challenge of each city
- Rooted—involving an existing community, not conjuring a new one
These principles can help cities around the world avoid being “greenwashed” through shallow checklists. They can give Chinese cities in particular the resilience to handle the world’s greatest migration of urbanization over the next century.
The challenge: How will the cities of China today be the eco-cities of tomorrow? Empowering our children today to be the champions of their hometowns tomorrow is part of the solution.
For nearly 20 years, Sylvester Wong has built an extensive portfolio in planning, mixed-use, and aviation, incorporating sustainability and natural/cultural heritage throughout the Asia-Pacific and Middle East. Originally from—and with architecture and planning degrees from—Berkeley, he is now with Gensler in Hong Kong as a leader in urban development and redevelopment, from strategy to concept planning to design guidelines.
Gensler is a global architecture, design, planning, and strategic consulting firm that specializes in a wide range of buildings and facilities owned or used by businesses, institutions, and public agencies. Its services engage the full building cycle from initial planning through design, implementation, and management. It focuses on its clients, understands their goals and strategies, and seeks to add substantial value to their enterprise through its work and services. www.gensler.com
Featured image of the aerial view of Langfang courtesy of earth_photos.