Liangjiang New District Transit Oriented Districts Plan
Location: Chongqing, China. Metropolis, City, and Town
SITE: 93,300 acre urban extension in a very large metropolitan area in China
Program: A regional plan for 6.8 million people that fosters dense, human-scale growth through urban design strategies, a smart transportation network, and a jobs/housing balance
Chongqing, in the interior of China, is a large and growing metropolitan area with over 30 million people. By 2020, the area is expected to add between 2 and 3 million more amid increasing automobile use and an expanding autocentric infrastructure. The resulting congestion, air quality, and infrastructure spending challenges in cities like Chongqing have serious implications for regional and global sustainability.
This project by Calthorpe Associates is an alternative proposal for an urban extension currently being planned by the regional government of Chongqing. The existing plan for the extension coincides with a major expansion of the city’s metro system which fails to fully leverage this investment to create transit-oriented growth. The result will be a “dense sprawl” that is uncoordinated and auto-dominated. Jurors praised the alternative proposal by Calthorpe Associates for providing a much-needed model for Chinese urbanism that is rooted in Charter principles.
Given that many of the problems associated with high density, automobile-oriented growth have roots in design decisions, Calthorpe Associates have taken the focus of the project away from the policy level and into outlining specific design standards. The proposal thus demonstrates the value of considering implications for all urban scales when planning on the regional level.
While the base proposal calls for 5.4 million people in the extension and 4.7 million jobs, the alternative plan notes the potential consequences of this jobs/housing imbalance, such as increased congestion and air pollution. It therefore calls for a denser development of 6.8 million residents that brings the project to a level of density and jobs/housing balance similar to Chongqing’s existing, walkable center.
Jury chair Doug Farr noted how the plan carefully addresses environmental concerns in regional planning. The proposal sets out eight steps for analyzing the layout and structure of a regional plan, beginning with natural topography, features, and environmental constraints and moving on to consider the placement of major roads, metro stations, and TOD districts.
The plan also scales to address specific urban design standards such as block size, visual variation, green space coverage, maximum parking ratios and street frontages. Each standard is justified in terms of the plan’s larger regional goal to create human-scaled, transit-oriented space.
Juror Rick Bernhardt emphasized his appreciation for the careful transportation planning in Calthorpe Associates’s regional plan, which considers transit service and the roadway network as well as the interaction between the two. Rather than six-lane arterial roads, the plan calls for couplets – pairs of one-way parallel streets that accommodate the same amount of traffic but are separated by a city block. This setup creates a more walkable pedestrian environment and efficient intersections for drivers. Shorter light cycles at intersections allow for improved headway regularity on planned high-frequency bus service along these routes.
Jurors agreed that the plan is a strong model for good urbanism in one of the most rapidly developing parts of the world. The Liangjiang New District plan by Calthorpe Associates suggests how regional planners can use Charter principles at all scales to address the challenge of creating truly transit-oriented, walkable, and human scale development in the context of rapid regional urbanization and environmental challenges.
Transect Zone(s): T4 general, T5 center.
Project or Plan's Scale: Region
Features: Live/work, Mixed uses, Rail/fixed guideway transit, Transit oriented development.
Land area (in acres): 93300
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Residential types: High-rise, Mid-rise/loft, Low-rise flats.
Project team designers: Calthorpe Associates
Project team developers: N/A
Previous site status: Undeveloped greenfield
Starting/Ending date of construction/implementation: -