International urban planning competition
The site is located in the outskirts of Tianjin, in Jinnan District south-west of the city centre, near to the Bohai Sea. It deals with a suburban, rather rural surrounding, however in close vicinity to a dense network of highways and expressways.
Design brief was to create an attractive, lively city community, using the quality of the environment to attract visitors, business and residents.
This aim is realized by the combined means of urban planning, landscaping, and architecture and by developing a consistent branding strategy providing identity to the development as a whole and serving as core marketing concept for the residential development.
An existing commercial area is centered on outdoor activities such as horseback riding, a green-house tropical garden, harvesting your own food, as well as an event space. RhineScheme proposes to combine these and add other activities around the theme of “Living healthy in harmony with nature”.
This gives a branding direction to the commercial centre. It also provides the residential areas with an identity and theme to which buildings and landscaping are to be designed. This has been done by careful selection of façade materials and garden design, but also on a technological/ecological level.
The commercial centre will attract visitors from all over Tianjin, but is still functioning as the local heart of the development. Residents will benefit from the facilities and are attracted to the underlying ecological idea.
These considerations are also reflected in the design. Rather than designing each plot as a separate island, the aim has been to tie all together with two parkland axes, which function as the internal pedestrian routes.
Their crossing point is the middle of the commercial centre and by that is leading all visitors there.
Neighbourhoods spring off the axes like leaves on a branch, each with their own identity but all part of the same family. Each plot can be accessed from the axes, whether it is a residential neighbourhood, the school or the commercial heart.
The neighbourhoods are connected to the axes through a communal garden or ‘green heart’. The east-west running axis has the character of an ‘urban’ axis. Soft landscape is combined with hard quays and steps leading to the water depending on the functions on either side.
The north-south axis forms a wetland park. It is wide and works as storm water storage and high quality outdoor space. This axis can also be described as the ‘event axis’, with activities such as Wetland Exhibition, Water Experience Park, Wedding Square, fishing pond and event space all aligned.
Both axes and all green hearts are themed around water.
Water improves the living quality of the surroundings and provides a dynamic landscape experience in times of higher and lower water levels. In time of flooding an overflow area is provided which keeps the low levels safe.
The architecture is modern but unobtrusive. Materials with texture and natural colours close to nature have been selected: natural stone and brick in earthy colour tones. Each neighbourhood is recognizable through its distinct colour scheme. The commercial area, although compiled of different plots, uses the same style and colours in order to give coherence.
It is part of the overall design concept to implement the theme “Living healthy in harmony with nature” on all levels: From the organic food sold at the farmers market to the building materials and technologies used. Proposals include constructing low-energy residential buildings, installing water-saving and energy-saving appliances, and implementing storm water storage and water run-off filtering in the landscape.