A new five-million person city near Beijing, China, is being designed as a model of sustainability to withstand the effects of climate change and future disease outbreaks.

The proposal from Barcelona-based Guallart Architects won a contest to design a community in Xiong’an, promoted by Chinese President Xi Jinping as “a new standard in the post-COVID era.”


Source: Ema Dimitrova/Youtube

As reported by Fast Company, the “self-sufficient city” would include courtyards with native plants and garden plots, wooden buildings that use on-site solar power, large balconies for gardening, rooftop vertical farms, and streets made for pedestrians and bikes rather than cars. These features would allow residents to produce resources locally and reduce the carbon footprint from residents and from the city itself.

Drawing on lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic, the design also includes features to help people survive during a future outbreak. Apartments have enough space to work from home, and co-working spaces in each building are equipped with 3D printers and other tools. The individual and rooftop gardens supply a steady food supply with fresh daily produce. And terraces are designed to have a landing zone for drone deliveries.

“This pandemic has demonstrated the importance of essential resources and services, and how external dependence in terms of energy, food, or industrial products can seriously affect people in times of crisis,” said Vicente Guallart, who worked on the design while under lockdown in Spain.


The architects estimate that they can grow 40% of the food needed for a vegan diet in the new city. Food will be grown throughout the city but won’t be shipped globally. Rather, residents will be able to let neighbors know if they have food available to sell through an app, and locally grown produce will be sold at markets on the bottom floor of apartment buildings.

With a rising global population, increased urbanization, a worsening climate crisis, and growing threats of infectious disease outbreaks, building resilient and sustainable cities has become a top priority.


“This pandemic has accelerated the future,” Guallart commented to Reuters. “Cities have seen what they are capable of if they face a challenge, and therefore decisions related to climate change and its impact on the urban model, on the design of buildings, on mobility, should be made immediately.”

See photos of the proposed self-sufficient city on Fast Company.


Read about 7 innovative projects making cities more sustainable from the World Economic Forum.

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