Lingang Bird Airport by McGregor Coxall Backyard by Alex Galego Lost Tablets by MvS Architects Australia’s Urban Room by Bates Smart
Jury citation: McGregor Coxall has explored one of the most significant environmental and ethical issues we face – our responsibility to other living beings and their habitat. Values embedded in our Indigenous cultural history, expressed in the idea of “caring for Country,” come to mind when considering this proposal for the Chinese city of Tianjin. The design creates a safe habitat for wildlife, free of human uses, in the form of 110 hectares of wetland park on the East Asian–Australasian migratory bird corridor. The design drawings evoke a safe, food-rich landscape, including perimeter viewing platforms of great beauty. Human interaction is minimized to secure the future of the bird population without diminishing the cultural and educational benefits of engaging with nature, even if at a distance. The wetlands are located adjacent to high-density built form to highlight important questions around how to better balance increasing global urbanization with new environments for the other animals that inhabit our planet. Proposing to reinstate the network of bird habitat in support of migratory patterns and breeding cycles to improve falling survival rates associated with urbanization, Lingang Bird Airport is an exemplary design proposition that is worthy of global implementation.
Architect’s description: Every year, over 50 million birds migrate from the northern hemisphere to Australia and New Zealand on the East Asian– Australasian Flyway (EAAF), seeking food and shelter. In a bid to increase critical bird habitat on the shores of the Bohai Sea in China, the Asian Development Bank encouraged the Port of Tianjin to embark upon an international design competition for a wetland bird sanctuary on a degraded landfill site in the Lingang area.
McGregor Coxall proposed the world’s first migratory “bird airport,” a 110-hectare wetland that will provide a globally significant sanctuary for endangered migratory bird species while also providing new green lungs for the city of Tianjin.
The EAAF is the world’s most threatened flyway due to loss of habitat to coastal urbanization. The landscape has been specifically designed to support the needs of more than 50 species of birds in three different water habitats, including an island lake with shallow rapids, a reed zone and mudflats. When complete, the site will comprise 14 bird hides, a 20-hectare forest and a 3,500-square-metre visitor and research centre. The wetlands are surrounded by a 20-hectare fringing forest to protect the birds from intrusion by nearby urban development.
The masterplan also looked to achieve Ramsar accreditation for the site, to assist the client in joining the Convention on Wetlands.
Part of a green necklace of new parkland for the city of Tianjin, the project will deliver green infrastructure, including constructed wetlands, parkland and urban forest. Renewable energy will be used to move recycled wastewater and harvested rainwater through the wetlands. The project will amplify China’s growing role as a hotspot for international migratory bird research and function as a pilot project in the national “sponge city” program.
Jury citation: This scheme strongly argues for a better synthesis of planning, urban design and, to a degree, social engineering, to address the social and racial demarcations between central Paris and it suburbs.
With a proposed new underground rail line to encircle the city, there is an opportunity for the above-ground spaces to be converted into a “green ring.” Using the rock and earth from the rail line tunnel’s formation, new buildings will be built using this “waste” material and, with planning laws permitting higher densities close to green space, it will allow a new, community-focused form of housing to be built.
Envisaged as a way of “stitching” the two parts of Paris together, this scheme – by its radical but thoughtful intervention – has the potential to blend through a range of solutions rather than merely integrate.
Architect’s description: There is a long history of fragmentation between Paris and its surrounding suburbs, known as banlieues. Historically, this duality was produced by urban renewal plans and policies that expelled the working class from the heart of Paris to its periphery. This deep disconnect between Paris and its suburbs is important to consider because the construction of the Grand Paris Express (GPE) and the hosting of the 2024 Olympics are being marketed as opportunities to stitch this fragmented territory back together.
The plan for the GPE, as elaborated by
Nicolas Sarközy (President of France 2007–2012), is a political gesture as much as an urban one.
The 2005 Paris riots marked the height of tensions around unemployment and police harassment in the poorer housing estates located in the eastern suburbs. It was around this time that Sarközy announced Ligne 15 – a 150-kilometre underground rail network which ultimately seeks to unify a divided Paris. The acceptance of the banlieu into the sprawling identity of Paris demonstrates a clear desire to rebalance access to transport, employment and housing through the creation of a polycentric city.
Parisian planning controls dictate that developments situated around green open areas can be higher-density developments. In response to this condition, my proposal is to relocate the soil and clay that is bored from the underground tunnels of Ligne 15 above ground to produce a new landscape that pedestrianizes streets and creates a 150-kilometre-long green ring that encircles Paris. This framework ultimately allows for higher-density living/working developments.
The sheer scale of Ligne 15 means that it would not benefit from a blanket solution of high-density living/working; instead, a suburb-by-suburb analysis is proposed. For further speculation, the suburb of Vitry is selected as a pilot project as it is one of the least dense suburbs, with a thriving creative scene and a workforce characterized by precarious freelance creatives.