JTP has won a prestigious Design Award for Social Innovation in China, presented at last week’s 2015 Design Success Summit in Shanghai.
The award recognises the importance of JTP's first opportunity to bring community planning to China, to inform the design process for the creation of a new town on Changzhi Island, part of Zhousan City in Zhejiang province, south of Shanghai.
JTP initiated the masterplanning process in 2009 with a design charrette for Greentown, one of China's leading residential developers, creating a holistic and sustainable Vision for a new settlement for 50,000 residents including a new university campus, preserving and enlarging the existing landscape setting and creating a special identity for the island.
Since then a quarter of the residential accommodation has been completed, together with the now fully occupied Zhejiang Maritime University, a lakeside golf course and commercial street. With Greentown now focussing on the detailed design of the compact, walkable, mixed-use town centre envisaged in the original masterplan, the opportunity presented itself to engage with the emerging residential and University community, to inform both the content and the 'spirit' of the new heart for the island.
It had been suggested prior to the participatory event that Chinese people might be unwilling to share their private thoughts and aspirations in a public setting, and that there might be a poor level of attendance due to cultural factors. The opposite proved to be the case – the venue was packed with a diverse mix of all ages and backgrounds, students, professors, families, the elderly and representatives from both the developers and the local municipality, all fully engaged as the workshop ran through three stages of Problems, Dreams and Solutions.
In addition to a wide range of suggestions for both the form and content of the centre, central to the debate was the need to create a strong sense of place for all members of the community, providing the opportunity for everyone to share and enjoy a 'slow life' in a high quality urban environment where people would be able to walk and cycle rather than rely purely on the motor car.
Echoing President Xi Jinping's call "to enhance the quality of public participation and make sure all decisions are made with the people's interests and inspirations at their heart", JTP believe there will be increasing demands for participatory processes to be rolled out across China , both for the creation of new settlements and the regeneration of existing towns and cities.
Subsequent to their participatory process for Changzhi Island, JTP have been appointed by China's largest residential developer, Vanke, to evaluate their pioneering Cultural New Town at Liangshu on the outskirts of Hangzhou, which has been under development for the last ten years, working with the new community to identify their further social and economic needs as the town moves towards completion, including exploring future forms of management and governance.