The 2 million square meter (22 million square meter) urban development, called “Net City”, will prioritize pedestrians, green spaces and self-driving vehicles, according to their designers.
Although it is primarily for the use of Tencent, it will be publicly available to most areas and facilities. Credit: NBBJ
However, in addition to providing company residences and offices, the neighborhood is expected to host shops, schools and other public facilities and will be connected to the rest of Shenzhen through road bridges, ferries and the city’s metro system. The American firm NBBJ, behind the master plan, hopes that the new area’s entertainment venues, parks and coastline will attract visitors from other parts of the city.
The site will be built on a reclaimed land. Credit: NBBJ
According to NBBJ’s design partner Jonathan Ward, the plan is different from closed campuses led by large technology companies in recent years.
“Absolutely a target (and a civilian component),” he said in a phone call. “He did not want to be an isolated, safe island – a lively city. People will pass through, connect … and will be a vital center for Shenzhen.”
Eliminating the car
Ward won an international competition to design the site, with an unusually large plot, NBBJ said he could rethink the car’s role in urban planning.
“Our main goal was to provide a place where innovation could truly flourish.” “To do this, we tried to minimize the impact of the car as much as possible.
“Being ‘tool-free’ is still a bit challenging in our world, so we’ve spent a lot of time designing the city to be as low-impact as possible, and moving away from unnecessary places (cars) and focusing on people.”
The master plan prioritizes pedestrians with limited access to traditional vehicles. Credit: NBBJ
Although regular cars will have access to some parts of the neighborhood, the plan is centered around the “green corridor” designed for buses, bicycles and autonomous vehicles. Order eliminates what Ward calls “unnecessary” traffic.
“You don’t need a block surrounded by roads – maybe you can have eight blocks surrounded by a road and you can remove all the blocks in between.” Said. “We ‘take off’ the roads where we think it’s perfect for people to walk two minutes longer than a metro or a taxi rank.
“And in these two minutes, you can see something that you haven’t seen in a while, inspiring, connected to nature, or with a colleague – all these things you see in a workplace environment can happen in the city.”
NBBJ’s main plan is designed to integrate into Shenzhen’s wider urban fabric, as well as what it calls “interconnected, human-oriented organic ecosystem”. For Tencent employees, this may mean eroding the distinction between their work and their private lives – an idea that has become even more relevant in the light of the Covid-19 outbreak.
“Traditional cities are very quiet even in the busiest cities where there is more interaction and interference.” “But you can start blurring these lines (between work and play) that can happen now and bring more interaction between different parts of life.
“You see these lines blur more for better or worse. But I think we can make this model better as we advance.”
Elsewhere, the main plan considers environmental sustainability with rooftop solar panels and detailed systems for capturing and reusing wastewater. Planners also examined projections for future sea level increases to ensure better protection of buildings against climate change.
Transportation systems will connect “inner city” to the rest of Shenzhen. Credit: NBBJ
Tencent’s Net City will take about seven years to complete and construction is expected to begin earlier this year. Dozens of buildings, ranging in height from one to 30 floors, will be designed by different architectural firms.
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