China's 'Innovation City' dethrones the car as transportation king

When you design a city around a car, you end up with a sprawl — just look at Los Angeles or Houston. The architects at SOM are designing a green-minded city for China that will still let cars in, but the focus of the city is such that you won't really even need one, even if you're traveling all over China.

China has chosen Chicago-based architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM, not to be confused with SOMA) for an award for its design of what Beijing Bohai Innovation City could look like. The Bohai Rim expansion would put more commercial and residential space along the high-speed railway linking Beijing to the steadily growing metropolis of Tianjin and its Tanggu seaport.

See that glowing, rippling structure toward the bottom right in the image above? That's the rail station, and Innovation City's link to Tianjin, Beijing and the rest of China. Read: no car necessary if you want to travel elsewhere, even abroad — seaports and airports are a train ticket away. Even within the city, SOM's design calls for plenty of green spaces and fewer roads, meaning more room for bikers and pedestrians and less for automobiles. The car isn't banned though, so the city won't be China's Venice.

"The new district will leverage the high-speed rail to bridge two major metropolitan areas," SOM designer Thomas Hussey said in a statement by the firm. He added that it will "create a sustainable urban environment that concentrates walkable, compact densities around transit stations, while still preserving existing agriculture and green space."

The city would also be well-positioned to take advantage of China's future plans, such as that Bermuda-sized mega-airport that's in the works for Beijing.

Check out SOM's design for Beijing Bohai Innovation City in the gallery below.

SOM, via Arch Daily and Gizmag

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