Although my vision for sustainable urban development could be applied in any mega-city, it is particularly appropriate in China, due to the country’s massive population, and booming economic development. The estimated average annual migration of 45 million rural Chinese to cities is historically unprecedented, and anyone who has seen the Pudong area of Shanghai, which fifteen years ago was open farm land, can attest to the amazing urban development happening in China.
Demand for cars in China is soaring. China is expected to have 140 million automobiles by 2020, seven times more than now, according to Chinese state media. As more Chinese drive, low-density sprawling development connected by roads and freeways is booming.
Low density sprawl destroys natural habitats, is not conducive to non-polluting, efficient mass transit, and cuts productivity, as people spend an increasing amount of time in cars.
It is clear that LA type car culture and urban sprawl don’t provide the best model of sustainable development in China.
THE WMJ SOLUTION
There is social and environment value in New Urbanism, a movement aiming to build communities that improve the human condition through harmonious compatibility between urbanization and environmental protection, improved social interaction between neighbors who share a walkable community and community services, and increased use of public transportation instead of highways. However, due to the sheer number of people in China, even clusters of new urban neighborhoods would still result in sprawl.
Moreover, wouldn’t it be great to incorporate new urban elements within cities instead of simply building more and more and higher and higher apartment buildings
My vision: apply new urban neighborhood elements in multi-level, sky scraping structures. The structures would capitalize on new design, engineering, and construction technologies, which allow engineers to realize architectural projects of unprecedented scale and complexity. The structures would accommodate conventional buildings – homes, commercial spaces, community buildings, and trees – on multi-levels. There would be an artificial sky on each level that dims and brightens according to the time of day. The structures would be mostly open-air, but each level would have a perimeter of possibly glass, or other type of strong, transparent material to keep inhabitants from falling.
There could be high-density condo units on one level, and luxurious, single family homes on another. The first level could be commercial and retail space, which is easily accessible to tower residents, as well as to the broader city. One level could have a community club house, and recreational facilities,
including a gym, tennis courts, swimming pool, and golf driving range.