The urban fabric is shifting more than ever before, with city dwellers craving nature in spades. These two daring projects show that it’s possible to bring biodiversity to the forefront of built environments.
Xiong’an New Area, China
The thought of a pandemic, not COVID-19, but a future one, is what prompted Vicente Guallart, founder of Barcelona-based Guallart Architects, and his team to enter an international competition with designs for a mixed-use, post-COVID development in China’s Xiong’an New Area. Melding the European streetscape with contemporary Chinese-style high-rises and farmland, the “self-sufficient city” conjured in Guallart’s winning proposal encompasses a mix of residential typologies with large terraces and landscaped courtyards situated within four cross-laminated timber blocks built to energy-saving Passive House standards. There are also swimming pools, shops, coworking digital factories, and food-producing greenhouses topped with energy-generating sloped roofs. “Biodiversity is key in cities,” says Guallart. “We want to make cities that promote life.”
Penang Island, Malaysia
In early 2020,to bolster its Penang2030 vision for green living, the Penang State Government organized an international competition in search of environmentally focused proposals for its Penang South Islands development. Copenhagen-based BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group, in collaboration with Kuala Lumpur architects Hijjas and the Singapore office of engineering company Ramboll, won for its masterplan of a 4,500-acre bastion of sustainability and biodiversity on the southern shore of Malaysia’s Penang Island. Encompassing parks, stretches of waterfront, and beaches and forests that are united by ecological corridors, BiodiverCity will comprise mixed-use districts that connect through an air, land, and water network, a multi-pronged ecosystem of movement. Energy-efficient buildings will be made with bamboo, Malaysian timber, and “green concrete,” which is composed of recyclable materials, to promote a peaceful coexistence among the natural elements, says Daniel Sundlin, partner at BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group, while at the same time providing spaces for communal experiences that are steeped in Malaysian heritage.
A version of this article was originally published by Hospitality Design.