2014 National Planning Excellence Awards: Pierre L'Enfant International Award

The Songzhuang Arts and Agriculture City

Beijing, China

The Songzhuang Arts and Agriculture City master plan offers an innovative approach to the integration of agriculture and the urban environment along the eastern fringe of Beijing. Completed by Sasaki Associates, the plan's purpose is to transition the region's economy from a commodity-based, agrarian landscape toward new industries that focus on art, agriculture, technology, and research. In response to the quickly evolving land outside of Beijing, the plan proposes a series of self-sustaining communities with farmland located at the core and urban development along the periphery of the community. This approach allows for more diverse internal edge conditions that foster greater interaction between the cultivated landscape and urban fabric.

The plan calls for preserving 98 percent of existing agricultural land for use as either productive farmland or functional landscape infrastructure, which will allow for increased employment opportunities and improved local food production. The plan places emphasis on sustainable communities and environments. Additionally, the site landscape incorporates strategies to manage storm water quantity and quality within the development and considers opportunities to mitigate flood risks — an important planning provision for Songzhuang, as the region is prone to intense storms during the summer monsoonal rains.

Almost 55% of the Songzhuang site is currently cultivated, contributing to the local economy and providing a lifeline to existing communities.