Flower Village

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A new sustainable urban project was announced recently for an area of China that is one of the most heavily populated and polluted, the Guangzhou region. Specifically, a region that has been known for over 1700 years as a center of horticulture and flower production for Buddhist and royal ceremonies. It’s been described as a model of New Urbanization.

Rainer Schmidt Landscape Architects and City Planners (and their local partners GZPI) were named as the winners of the Guangzhou Fangcun Huadi Sustainable Master Plan competition. Another entry by West 8 was a joint winner.

Image: Rainer Schmidt Landscape Architects via World Landscape Architecture

Image: Rainer Schmidt Landscape Architects
via World Landscape Architecture

From a press release:

“The architects have created a site concept which has been derived from the form and character of the dominant elements of flowers and water. A romantic, dreamy and fragrant city emerges as a new centre for the region. The structure comprises one central area and seven urban groups radiating out like the petals of a flower.

The site’s green space network links the Foshan ecological corridor, Pearl River ecological corridor and the Pearl River Delta into one connected system.”

Sounds idyllic.

The creation of model settlements can certainly show what can be done when sustainable practices are integrated into urban developments from the beginning, and it’s a positive sign that China is taking this seriously. I was unable to find a timeline or budget for the construction of the city, which is being planned for 50,000 inhabitants. It is unclear to me whether this is a brand-new town or whether it will be built on an existing settlement.

The nearby city of Guangzhou is China’s third largest city, with 12 million inhabitants. The Flower Village, then, is equivalent to a small suburb of the larger city.

The winning designs for this project were created by groups that have a track record when it comes to large-scale urban projects, including the impressive Madrid Rio rejuvenation of the city’s Manzanares River. One of the goals of the Flower Village is to work towards cleaning polluted waters of the rivers included in the new plans.

Image: Rainer Schmidt Landscape Architects  via World Landscape Architecture

Image: Rainer Schmidt Landscape Architects
via World Landscape Architecture

There’s something about model green cities that both intrigues and unsettles me. They can be terrific conceptual milestones for gaining new perspectives on how a city can thrive in a sustainable manner; they can be shining showcase projects that distract from doing necessary work on areas that are the very definition of unsustainable practices.

It will be interesting to see how this particular project develops over the years, both during its construction, and (if and when it is built) its inhabited urban life.

More:

Rainer Schmidt Landscape Architects website

West 8 website

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