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Lingang is a new city at the mouth of the Yangtze River Delta, designed as part of the 1966 plan for the development of the metropolitan area of Shanghai.
The creation of the new Yangshan deep-water port, connected to the mainland through the Donghai bridge, gave the government the opportunity to develop a new industrial zone which is planned to house up to 800,000 inhabitants by 2020 and will have a crucial role in the economic growth of the coastal region.
The new city will occupy an area of almost 300 km2. Approximately half of this surface (on the east side) is constituted by newly reclaimed land, while the inner part is characterised by the presence of an agricultural pattern of canals and linear villages. Here, the waterbodies provide irrigation, transportation and public space, generating a strong local identity.
In the original design, the presence of these villages was completely neglected and big industrial estates substitute all the pre-existing fabric. The creation of huge mono-functional blocks quite distant from each other forces the immediate construction of all the infrastructures and a very low density makes the project functionally and economically inefficient. Furthermore, the rigid geometric scheme of the masterplan does not allow any flexible phasing strategy and the structure of the city could hardly make sense before all the phases are completed.
On the environmental level, the process of land reclamation produced an important alteration to the original water system: the construction of a dyke eliminated the natural daily fluctuation of the sea level and forced the construction of an underground drainage for all the existing canals. As a result, the valuable ecosystem of salt marshes and fish ponds has been lost and the poor drainage capacity of the terrain generates a high risk of flooding during the wet season.
This project aims to create a more dynamic system of multifunctional clusters that can better adjust the future changes in the growth of the city. A higher density respects the original goals of the masterplan placing all the functional clusters in the reclaimed area, thus preserving the linear villages. At the same time, the solution to the drainage problems gives the opportunity to create a new network of canals and water bodies that organise and structure the new urban fabric, becoming a crucial element for the public space. The new design maximises the coastline, generating a higher land value that compensates the costs of the dredging and earthwork needed, making the development economically attractive.