Spanish practice Guallart Architects, founded by Vicente Guallart, chief architect of the city of Barcelona, has won the international competition to design a mixed-use community in the new city of Xiong’an in China. The project aims to define a new standard in the post-Covid era, that can be applied as a role model in different cities around the world.
The proposal presented under the title “the self-sufficient city”, defines an urban model, that merges the traditional European urban blocks, the Chinese modern towers, and the farming landscape. This new urban environment where people can live, work and rest, will allow their residents to produce resources locally while they are connected globally, providing a self-sustaining way of living.
“We cannot continue designing cities and buildings as if nothing had happened. Our proposal stems from the need to provide solutions to the various crises that are taking place in our planet at the same time, in order to create a new urban life based on the circular bioeconomy that will empower cities and communities”. – Vicente Guallart, founder, Guallart Architects
Specifically, the project is conceived as layers of onions, defining different functions needed for human living at different scales, from the home to the building and the community. The four blocks, that will be built using mass timber and passive design solutions will have mix-use programme including apartments, residences for young and old people, offices, swimming pool, shops, food market, kindergarten, administrative centre and a fire station among other facilities.
All buildings will be covered by greenhouses that will allow to produce food for daily consumption and use their sloping roofs to produce energy. In the ground floor, small co-working digital factories will allow to use 3d printers and rapid prototyping machines to produce object for the daily use. So the building will have an internal metabolic system that will integrate energy production, recycled water, food production and material reuse promoting a distributed model for urban management.
All the apartments will have a large terrace facing south, which acts as a thermal regulator, and will be a fundamental space in periods of confinement allowing the residents to play, rest and work. Likewise, the homes will be prepared to have telework spaces and will be connected to 5G networks, creating social networks at neighbourhood-scale for the exchange of resources.
“We developed this project during confinement, when the entire team worked from home and we decided to include all those aspects that could make our lives better, so that a new standard could be defined”. – Honorata Grzesikowska, director, Guallart Architects
The competition, defined as “Xiong’an Architecture Design Contest with Chinese Characteristics under the High Quality Development principle” has received more than 300 projects organised in six categories, and will define the standards for this new emblematic city supported by President Xi, as a hub for the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei economic triangle.
Guallart founded his eponymous practice in 1993 as well as the Institute of Advanced Architecture in Catalunya in 2001. His most relevant and recent projects include, among others, Sociópolis in Valencia: an innovative housing project for urban and environmental development with projects by international architects; Sharing Bloks in Gandía: a residence for students, the first in Spain where the dynamical relation between private and shared areas can generate a continuous re-configuration and extension of the spaces to live; Fugee Port and Keelung Port in Taiwan. He is author of Geologics (Actar), and co-author of the Metapolis dictionary of Advanced Architecture and Hypercatalonia.
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