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ECO-VILLAGE
Our work with Shuangkou offers an opportunity to address these issues. The work focuses on the redevelopment of three villages in Tianjin as a demonstration eco-village. Though most Americans have not heard of Tianjin, it has a population of about 11 million and is located

Potential eco-village has housing, agriculture, industrial and commercial. (click picture for larger image)

 

70 miles SE of Beijing. The villages we are working with are agricultural villages which were previously outside the city but are now within its area of urban development. They have a population of about 12,000 people, mostly farmers. The current housing is substandard, and the people want and need something better. There exists a standard model for development of these villages. They give their land to a developer in exchange for the developer building them new houses. The developer builds high rise apartments on one corner of the land. The villagers move into these apartments and the 

developer uses the rest (the majority) of the land for speculative development, namely high end apartments for wealthy Chinese.

 

There are both serious problems and wonderful opportunities in this situation. The first problem is that the standard way of designing and building these villages is neither innovative nor sustainable. Once built it will be prohibitively difficult to replace with a sustainable design and will continue consuming energy and resources for decades. It is also sad that the old buildings are simply bulldozed, losing significant recycling opportunities as well as much of the history and culture of the village. At the same time there are some outstanding opportunities. There is an economic mechanism that will allow the villagers to make improvements to their community and we only need to help show them alternatives to the prevailing non-sustainable and impersonal patterns of development. We have the conditions to integrate the design of housing, industrial areas, commercial areas and agricultural land, which are usually treated separately. We will be designing the infrastructure for water, wastewater, roads and energy which is also critical to environmentally healthy development.

 

 

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