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FROM RURAL EXODUS TO URBAN BIOSPHERE

by Phoebe Liu on Jun 17, 2013 in Architecture
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In Shenzhen, Paris-based Vincent Callebaut Architectures has dreamed up dramatic-looking sustainable farmscapes for rural urbanity

Just three decades ago in mainland China, only one person in five lived in a city – today, city-dwellers make up more than half of the country’s population of 1.3 billion people… and that proportion is growing. In fact, by 2020, it is forecast that there will be more than 200 cities with a population of over a million, and more than 20 megapolises with more than five million inhabitants.

In the face of this booming urbanisation, the idea of vertical farms in a city setting have been increasingly debated – in Milan, for example, the Vertical Forest project by Studio Boeri is currently being realised.

Benefiting from its privileged geographical position in the heart of the Pearl River Delta, Shenzhen is experiencing spectacular economic and demographic development. In response to its context of hyper growth and accelerated urbanism, Paris-based practice Vincent Callebaut Architectures has unveiled the Asian Cairns project, proposing the construction of an urban multifunctional, multicultural and ecological pole. “It is an obvious project to build a prototype of a green, dense, Smart city eco-designed from biotechnologies,” says the firm’s founder, Vincent Callebaut.

The Asian Cairns masterplan has been conceived as three interlaced spirals that represent the elements of fire, earth and water, all organised around air in the middle. Each spiral curls up around two megalithic towers and forms urban ecosystems implanting biodiversity into the heart of the city via public orchards and urban agricultural fields. Huge basins of viticulture and vast lagoons of phyto-puration recycle the grey water from the vertical farms.

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