Head described Dongtan as not just a city but an ecosystem. Planning was an exercise in integrated thinking-"integrated urbanism," as Arup's literature calls it. Transportation was considered at the same time as health care, because in the big picture, one affects the other: The more walking and the less air pollution, the healthier the people, and the lower the health-care costs. Similarly, if internal-combustion engines are banned, Dongtan's office buildings will save on air-conditioning: Workers won't mind opening windows to cool down their offices if traffic noise is absent and the air is clean. Head's planning team includes economists, water engineers, graphic designers, property consultants, "cultural specialists" and a philosopher-an approach far more multidisciplinary than the one that birthed Huangbaiyu. He showed a slide of his Chinese team's "barrel principle" of city development: an image of a wooden barrel that holds only as much water as its shortest rib allows.
The first 2.5 square miles of the 33-square-mile Dongtan site to be developed-which will house the first 80,000 of its eventual 500,000 inhabitants-will sit at the edge of a bird refuge for the endangered black-faced spoonbill. This starter section of the city, made up of three separate villages, will be bisected by waterways and walking and biking paths, bounded by public-transport loops and green space. Water taxis will ply its canals, and the only vehicles allowed inside city limits will run on electricity or hydrogen-zero noise and zero emissions. No residence will be farther than three minutes by foot from a park, seven minutes from public transportation, and eight minutes from a village center. Street lamps will be solar-powered, wastewater will be treated and recycled, and buildings will use two thirds less energy than conventional structures. Dongtan will run on 100 percent renewable energy, much of which will come from a plant powered by rice husks, an unwanted by-product that could arrive by barge from up the Yangtze. With notable exceptions-including hyper-efficient, LED-lit "plant factories" where organic crops will be stacked on five layers of trays-Dongtan's innovation is its holistic perspective, not its individual technological breakthroughs. Its ecological footprint, the amount of land it takes to sustain one of its citizens, is just 6.4 acres per person. (In London and Shanghai, by comparison, it takes around 14.5 acres. In Houston it's nearly 30 acres.) By 2010, when a 15-mile bridge-and-tunnel complex over and under the Yangtze-the longest in the world-is completed and the World Expo is held in Shanghai (which in these parts gets mentioned far more often than Beijing's 2008 Olympics), Dongtan will be ready for its first residents. How? "Building happens five times as fast here," Head explained. "Everything goes at a factor of five in China."
Below, an animated flyover of the city:single page
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