The establishment of the Xiong’an New Area in Hebei Province is a vital historic strategic choice made by with the General Secretary Xi Jinping and the CPC Central Committee, which is an essential and national plan in a long term.
In April 2017, the Office of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Collaborative Development Leading Group invited six planning and design teams in China. These professional teams formed a closed and concentrated workshop and seminar to optimize and improve the planning scheme carried out by the China Academy of Urban Planning and Design at the first time. Academician Duan Jin was invited to lead a team from Southeast University to Beijing to begin the work quickly.
Xiong'an New Area embodies the national model with "the world vision, international standards, Chinese characteristics, and high designing positioning". The Southeast University team discovered that the "Chinese characteristics" in the original planning scheme are not prominent enough. Therefore, how to protect and promote the traditional Chinese culture, highlight the regional cultural characteristics, and give Xiong’an a "Chinese face" in the planning was the main key points of the Southeast University team's work during the workshop (Figure 1).
Figure 1 The planning scenario sketch made by the Southeast University team during the Xiong’an workshop
While in the workshop, the Southeast University team proposed a planning rule: Based on the landscape pattern of "facing Baiyangdian Lake in the south and Yanshan Mountains in the north with Taihang Mountains in the west, and connecting the Bohai Sea and Xiongwan Bay in the east", reflecting the square and rectangle block planning system, creating a centralized and people-oriented city with horizontal and vertical axes, and a system of streets, alleys, and neighbourhoods. At the end of the workshop, this proposal was adopted by the comprehensive plan integrated by the China Academy of Urban Planning and Design.
After the Xiong’an general planning framework was basically determined, the government issued an invitation to the world in July 2017 to solicit urban design proposals for the start-up area by forming an international competition. Academician Duan Jin led the original team that participated in the workshop, and together with Academician Wang Jianguo, created a team from Southeast University to involve in the competition. The Southeast University team was the only Chinese team among the 12 teams selected from 279 leading planning and design firms around the world that did not cooperate with foreign parties, and the final work received the highest number of votes among the 12 proposals, becoming one of the final three winning proposals. In the final general plan submitted to Xiong’an, the Southeast University team continued the concept of the centralized city with horizontal and vertical axes, and referred to Chinese traditional spatial knowledge, made a deeper study on the spatial pattern of the city, the scale of streets and alleys, the horizontal and vertical axes, and the landmark systems, explored the urban spatial development of the traditional Chinese city in the era of ecological civilization. It also provided the basis for the finalization of the general planning framework of the start-up area (Figure 2).
Figure 2 Southeastern University Submits Xiong’an Scenario in Bidding Documents
In April 2018, the Planning Outline of Xiong’an New Area in Hebei was approved, specifying the spatial imagery of "a square city, two axes, five clusters, ten scenic parks, hundreds of flower fields, thousands of trees, and great area of lakes". Thus, the "Chinese face" planning scenario that the Southeast University team has been insisting on from the workshop to international consulting period has been formalized in the spatial framework of the start-up area (Figure 3).
Figure 3 The planning scheme of a square city and two axes
After the approval of the Planning Outline, the planning scheme of the “square city”, as a core area exhibiting the image of the new area and an important carrier for conveying the development values of Xiong’an, has been continuously polished and optimized under the efforts of different designing companies. Since the middle of 2018, the Southeast University team has joined hands with many excellent planning and architectural teams at home and abroad to optimize the city planning scheme.
The practical work of planning in Xiong’an just like drawing a blueprint on the blank paper, demanding ultra-high standards and involving hundreds of designers and planners, therefore it is crucial to develop norms and legislative technical documents to guide the preparation of the plan.
From April 2018 to May 2019, Academician Duan Jin, as the chief expert, led the original Southeast University team involved in the planning practice of Xiong’an to participate in the preparation of the "Technical Guidelines for the Planning of Xiong’an New Area", responsible for establishing the technical framework of the Guidelines, formulating the rules for the preparation, the overall coordination of the technical content of the chapters. This work was highly endorsed by the expert group and the Management Committee of Xiong’an New Area, which considered that "it is of very important directional and fundamental significance to the planning and construction standard system of the new area reflecting the 'Xiong’an quality'. ...... has reached the leading and international advanced level in China". In October 2021, the revision of the Guidelines was officially launched.
Author: Duan Jin
Translated by Zhang Chenxi