The government of Miyi County in Sichuan Province has begun construction on an ecologically sensitive new town, which will eventually house 100,000 people. The 825-acre site, located south of the city of Pazhihua along the Anning River, will include higher-density housing and commercial zones as well as new wetlands and recreational and agricultural districts.
SWA Group, a landscape architecture, planning and urban design firm based in Los Angeles, won the master-plan competition in 2008. A promenade made up of parks and public spaces, designed by SWA, will provide river access. SWA hired Los Angeles-based architectural firm Studio SHIFT to design the public buildings. The centerpiece Miyi Tower, to be located at the southern end of the promenade, will contain community event spaces, open-air spaces, an observation deck and restaurants. In addition, there will be an aquatic center, a 10,000-seat sports complex and a hybrid pedestrian/vehicular bridge.
According to SWA principal Gerdo Aquino, the design preserves existing ecological corridors, most of which are streams descending from nearby mountains and feeding into the Anning River, and calls for hiking trails along the corridors. “We preserved a large proportion of the existing agricultural land,” says Aquino of his firm’s design. “Agriculture will become part of the local university curriculum, and there will be farmers’ markets. We hope agriculture will have a valid future.”
The design employs a combination of mechanical and natural filtration methods to transport highly polluted river water through lakes, wetlands and sedimentation basins. Thousands of strips of bio-film will be inserted into ponds and marshes to jump-start the natural filtering process. BioMatrix Water, based in Scotland, pioneered the bio-film technology as part of a bioremediation system to harness entire waterways as active treatment systems.