Society Hill Community | Landscape
The developer of this residential compound was looking for a new urban housing concept specific to the site and notably of outstanding ‘liveability’ – in its variety of innovative housing typologies, in urban planning and car-reduced traffic concept … and last not least in its landscape and water design. The built up area is able to reveal the intended core qualities.
The whole development is sub-divided into smaller clusters or neighbourhoods, interlaced with networks of pedestrian paths and passages which intuitively connect with major circulation arteries and public buildings. More than only being convenient, it is a sensually rich experience to discover the community by foot.
The urban concept is on the one hand profoundly European and by that connected to Tianjin’s historical heritage, but inspired as well by the traditional North Chinese hutong.
Thanks to a relatively compact arrangement of the residential buildings, saved space could be used for a diverse mix of intimate green and urban spaces: courtyards, gardens and plazas which are at the heart of mini-neighbourhoods and distinguish important pedestrian intersections.
Each neighbourhood has its own recognizable personality. The variety in small scale is held together by an overall landscape idea that has its roots in the site itself and its agricultural heritage. Existing orchard trees – up to 200 years old – have been entirely retained and integrated into the design. Also the typical irrigation channels of the former farmland have been kept and extended to form a whole decentralised storm water management system, with swales and channels and memorable water features.
Finally, as part of the ecological efforts in ‘Society Hill’, a 30 meters wide polluted irrigation canal has been restored as a quasi-natural river over a length of 1 kilometre. The banks have been softly moulded and planted – a flourishing ecology is helping to rebalance the natural biology of the water so that it can cleanse itself after years of receiving industrial and agricultural pollution.
Accessible by boardwalk, steps and ramps, the restored ecological integrity of the river-canal helps to make it a community treasure and a focus point for leisure and socialising.