Guangzhou, the third largest city in China, suffers from the worst air pollution in the country. Owing to coal-fired electricity plants, as well as the use of coal and heavy oil in manufacturing, the air pollution is estimated to be the equivalent of smoking 8-10 packs of cigarettes a day.
Acknowledging this situation as unsustainable, the local government, in conjunction with the national government and local business, have set out to improve not only the environmental conditions, but also the aesthetic conditions for the ten million who live in Guangzhou.
" Heller Manus Architects has been awarded the contract to design Guangzhou’s Southern Axis... Heller Manus will now develop their plans for 14.78 sq km of the city incorporating waterfront and transit oriented development with a ferry terminal, central government districts, and a variety of urban land uses."
Heller Manus is based in San Francisco, and promotes designs that suitably blend function with the local culture. WAN notes, "The Heller Manus concept was chosen for its balance of growth with sustainability and preservation, while promoting amenities for better livability."
Green roofs appear to be a significant element of the design, in addition to larger green spaces. In the context of improving Guangzhou, green roofs will help reduce the choking, fine particulate matter air pollution, as well improving storm water runoff. Both clean air and clean water are challenging not just for Guangzhou, but for China as a whole.
Green roofs will also improve quality of life issues for the residents. Green roofs will provide green space for residents to escape the crowded city life and enjoy the view. Other possibilities include urban agriculture to improve food security.
As China continues to grow, its population is becoming more aware of the environmental consequences of rapid industrialization. Projects such as the modernization of Guangzhou, and dream cities such as Dongtan, will help prevent catastrophic and irreversible environmental damage and improve the overall health of its citizens.