Location: Tianjin, China
Client: Tianjin Real Estate Development & Management Group

The City of Tianjin is located in what was once a vast wetland and tidal shoreline zone south of Beijing that was known as Chilihai or The Seven Mile Sea. After centuries of drainage, creation of agricultural dikes and fields, and shoreline change, little remains of the ancient landscape. A remnant of the ancient sea has now been protected as an environmental preserve, with strict development guidelines. The objective of this plan is to allow for city expansion into this rural area while observing the regulations.

Recently, the nearby City of Tianjin, having been devastated by increasingly frequent floods, devised a flood control plan which calls for diverting the flood waters from the city by directing them through the selected project area, most of which lies within two meters of sea level.

To resolve this dilemma, the plan proposes to lower a large percentage of the area to recreate the original sea level wetland environment, and allow safe passage of the flood waters while being cleansed by the wetland before entering the South China Sea. The excavated earth is to be used to create an archipelago of islands on which development can safely take place. A ring of agricultural land is proposed to surround each island in the occasionally flooded transitional space between the protected dry land and the wetlands and open water.

Each island is envisioned as an ecologically-oriented town including business district, schools, social services, parks and its own nearby source of fresh vegetables from the surrounding farms and sea food from the wetlands. Chilihai and the wetlands provide homes for a great diversity of wildlife. Tourist hotels and resorts are located on the islands for the convenience of the eco-tourists, birdwatchers and sports fishermen expected to return to this protected sanctuary.

Landscaping, grading and drainage design on each island is geared to protecting the water quality in the wetlands. Runoff from the farmland will be directed through filters on its way to the sea. The grid of major city roads connecting the islands will be elevated on bridges throughout to preserve the natural flow of water and allow safe passage of the occasional large floods expected from the redirection of water to protect Tianjin.