CITY FOR LIFE
In 2018, Xiong’an New Area started gathering urban design schemes globally for the Boot Area. After receiving entries from more than 200 applicants, 12 firms from 10 countries were selected to participate in the urban design competition. After the review and comparison by global experts, the design scheme by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) and Tom Leader Studio (TLS) stood out because of its global vision, international standard, Chinese characteristics and advanced positioning.
The landscape, designed by TLS, creates a natural framework to define Xiong’an’s urban form. Tom Leader added: “When we first thought about what will make this city exceptional in the world, we asked ourselves these questions: How people will live here in a new way? How can their lives integrate with nature and Baiyangdian? How will the new residents establish their social fabric? What cultural legacy will inform these new social spaces?”
For thousands of years, Baiyangdian—the vast freshwater lake adjacent to Xiong’an— has witnessed the interdependent relationship between humans and nature, which is also the design inspiration for the selected scheme’s theme of “City for Life”. The urban design vision centers around people’s lives and provides the foundation for an ever-evolving city. The native landscape of forests and wetlands is deeply interwoven with the city along new waterways. Much as a new tree flourishes on the shoreline, Xiong-an’s open space has its roots in Baiyangdian with its trunk, branches, and fruits growing deep into the city. Returning to ecological living based on the seasons will provide the residents with health, wellbeing and quality of life.
A TREE GROWS ON THE SHORELINE
We suggest a natural model and metaphor of a shoreline tree for growing the nature of this new ecological city. A small seedling tree grows on the shoreline – it has its roots within the nurturing waters of Baiyangdian, it extends its limbs and twigs over time into the air evolving its scale and the complexity of trunk, branches, twigs, and leaves. In the same way, the waters of Baiyangdian are invited into the city itself creating a bay, extending itself through steams and canals, into neighborhoods and small parks, bioswales and rivulets, finally reaching the balcony of one person’s living space. As the lake and water grow within the city, biological diversity both flora, fauna, and flocks of birds will follow, creating the sustainable backbone structure of the city’s open space. In a similar way, residents of Xiongan should be able to follow a drop of rain all the through this urban ecosystem to the lake itself. The structure of this tree of water and nature is profoundly interwoven with the forms and functions of the city as well as Baiyangdian.
24 SOLAR TERMS
The new city is also deeply rooted in Chinese culture and the way of life borne by natural changes in the heavens and the earth. Nature and life are the most important topics in the 38 square kilometer start-up area. The tradition of harmony between man and nature depicts the picture of harmony between man and nature for thousands of years. We all depend on nature, but modern urban life has, in some ways been preoccupied by technology, internet, and social media, and distance from the reality of nature has increased.
Our vision for Xiong’an is to have a city that will make people’s daily life more intertwined with the changes of nature, flowers, birds, insects, sun and moon stars, and the sense of meaning within our lives.
The twenty-four solar terms are Chinese people`s most delicate expression of nature, and they are a cultural gene rooted in the homeland. For thousands of years, it has profoundly affected people’s life rhythm, folklore, poetry literature, natural aesthetics and emotional experience. The solar terms also make people aware of the changes and living conditions of animals and plants. Through the characteristics and atmosphere of the place, plant design, outdoor activity planning, habitat creation, landscape element design and cultural significance of the solar terms can become more alive for this community. In every space we create, we can embrace the beauty and profound nature of seasonal changes that have been so important in our legacy.