Net City: Tencent is building a "future city" the size of Monaco in Shenzhen

Net City: Tencent is building a “future city” the size of Monaco in Shenzhen

written by Oscar Holland, CNN

Technology giant Tencent has unveiled plans to create an almost entirely car-free “city of the future”, the same size as Monaco in Shenzhen, China.

According to its designers, the urban development dubbed “Net City”, which has an area of ​​2 million square meters (22 million square feet), will give priority to pedestrians, green spaces and self-driving cars.

Although Tencent is used primarily, many spaces and facilities will be available to the public.

Although Tencent is used primarily, many spaces and facilities will be available to the public. credit: NBBJ

The ambitious city within the city is set to occupy an area of ​​reclaimed land flowing into the estuary of the Pearl River. The site is designed to accommodate a population of about 80,000 people, and will serve the site primarily Tencent, The conglomerate behind WeChat and the popular QQ messaging service in China.

But in addition to providing the company’s housing and offices, the neighborhood is expected to host shops, schools and other public facilities, and it will be connected to the rest of Shenzhen via the city’s road bridges, ferries, and metro system. The American company behind the master plan, NBBJ, hopes to attract recreational places, parks and park alongside the new area, visitors from other parts of the city.

The site will be built on an area of ​​reclaimed land.

The site will be built on an area of ​​reclaimed land. credit: NBBJ

As such, the plan differs from the closed campus that major tech companies have devised in recent years, according to Jonathan Ward, design partner for NBBJ.

“It is definitely the destination (and it has) a civilian component,” he said in a telephone interview. “It is not supposed to be an isolated and safe island – it is a vibrant city. People will wander through it, they will arrive … and it will be a vital center for Shenzhen.”

Eliminate the car

Ward said that with an unusually large free space to work with, the National Bank of Bahrain – which won an international website design competition – was able to rethink the role of the car in urban planning.

“Our main goal was to provide a place where innovation can truly thrive,” he explained. “To do this, we tried to minimize the impact of the vehicle.

“Moving without a car” is still a huge challenge in our world, so we spent a lot of time designing the city to be as low-impact as possible, and removing (cars from) where they don’t need to be and focusing on people. ”

The master plan prioritizes pedestrians, with limited access to traditional vehicles.

The master plan prioritizes pedestrians, with limited access to traditional vehicles. credit: NBBJ

Although regular cars will be able to reach some parts of the neighborhood, the plan revolves around a “green lane” designed for buses, bicycles, and autonomous vehicles. The design removes what he called “unnecessary” traffic.

“You don’t need one block surrounded by roads – maybe you can have eight blocks surrounded by the road, and remove everything between them,” he said. We were “laying” roads in places we thought it was quite good for people to walk for two minutes from the subway or taxi.

“And in these two minutes, you might see something inspiring, related to nature, or meet a colleague you haven’t seen in a while – all of these things you can see happen in the workplace environment that can happen in the city.”

Coherent planning

In addition to integrating with the broader urban fabric in Shenzhen, the NBBJ Master Plan is designed to deliver what it calls a “human-connected, interconnected organic ecosystem.” For Tencent employees, this could mean eroding the distinction between their work and their private lives – an idea that has become more relevant in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, Ward said.

“The traditional cities are very isolated, even in the more dense cities where there is more interaction and mixing,” he added. “But what can happen now is that you can start blurring these lines (between work and play), and achieve more interaction between different parts of life.

“You see more blurring of these lines, for better or for worse. But I think we can make it for the better while we continue this model going forward.”

Elsewhere, the master plan examines environmental sustainability with rooftop solar panels and elaborate systems for capturing and reusing wastewater. Planners also considered future sea level rise projections to ensure buildings are better protected against climate change.

Transportation systems will link the

Transportation systems will link the “city within the city” with the rest of Shenzhen. credit: NBBJ

Tencent is not the only private company looking to create its own mini city. Earlier this year, automaker Toyota unveiled plans for 175-acre Vincent City on the foothills of Mount Fuji, where it will test autonomous vehicles, smart technology and robot-assisted living. In Toronto, Sidewalk Labs, the parent company of Google Alphabet, was planning to transform a waterfront that extends into a future new neighborhood, before canceling the project citing the “economic uncertainty” caused by Covid-19.
There are also a number of other major developments being planned in Shenzhen, a city that has exploded in size since 1980, when the Chinese government called it the “Special Economic Zone”. The first phase of a new commercial area called Shenzhen Bay, which is also being built on reclaimed land, is expected to be completed by 2022.

It will take Tencent Net City about seven years to complete, and construction is expected to begin later this year. Dozens of individual buildings, which will range from one floor to 30 floors, will be designed by a variety of different architectural firms.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *