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Chengdu Tianfu Aerotropolis
Winner - Gold
Designer: Ellen Lou, Winner of AllSpark Award - Director, FAIA, AICP
Design Type: Urban Design/Master Plan
Company / Organization / School: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
Team Members: Chengdu Hi-tech District Planning, Land, and Construction Bureau (Client), Arup (Infrastructure), CHS Consulting Group (Transportation), Klimaat Consulting & Innovation (Climate), Land Econ Group (Economy), Moriyama & Teshima Planners (Environment), CityFi (Smart City), MIC (Transportation)
Countering conventional urban design approaches in China, this 668km2 Chengdu Tianfu International Airport City Plan advances an integrated, climate-responsive urbanism shaped by nature and scientific analysis. Rather than the typical skyline of skyscrapers, site analysis argued for a series of low-to-mid-rise districts that responds to the area’s unique topography of ancient sea beds, and its unusual ecology of natural waterways and irrigation infrastructure. Under this systems-based approach, all aspects of development—site ecology, infrastructure and architecture—work in concert: environmental resiliency supports economic vitality, individual wellbeing strengthens local identity. Vibrant, varied mixed-use districts—still rare in China—define a human-scaled urbanism, walkable and social, yet dense enough to support transit and attract economic investment. Urban form, natural topography, and infrastructure work together to bolster cleansing wind flows, improving air quality. Open, screened architecture rendered in local materials supports a regional tradition of indoor-outdoor living. A robust multimodal transit system—including high speed rail, subways, and autonomous shuttles—connect the city, reducing carbon emissions. An open space network incorporating the Jiangxi river corridor, urban agriculture, city parks, high-performance infrastructure, mitigate flooding, improve air quality, provide abundant recreational opportunities, and sustain this unique urban habitat.