Students design a new city for one million people in Suzhou, China

China is looking for expertise from overseas for prestige capital projects: to help plot a positive path for the country’s new cities but now to also ensure that the lessons of China’s three thousand year built history is not undervalued.

With the rapidly changing economic and social conditions, space is emerging for new architecture, teaching and urban planning from the UK. Respect for client, response to place, acknowledgement of the lessons of built heritage, sustainability, authentic consultation and involvement are skills which architects and students, particularly from Scott Sutherland can bring to architecture, education and practice across China.

So, over a period of two years from 2012 to 2014, students in years five and six of Unit 2 to develop their Suzhou manifesto and design a new city of one million people. Their intention was to create a new settlement in China that met the population growth needs but retrained an authentic sense of place, whilst also addressing the county’s global and economic ambition.

A unique characteristic of Unit 2 was that students were required to draw by hand rather than use the computer and particularly during analytical studies, to emphasise the importance of hand drawing in the design process.

For the fourth semester of 2014, the current year five began working on their individual briefs and projects which they will carry through to their sixth year. While year six moved on to develop their individual building and produced in-depth proposals for modular housing, residential high rise structures, transportation strategies, rice production, gardens, a library, a museum, a buddhist temple and a boat building factory.

The students from both years also visited Suzhou to gather more detailed information on their site. Another trip is planned for June 2014.

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