Architecture Australia

Special mentions


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.

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