Changsha, China

As China’s population becomes increasingly urbanized, its cities must not only grow, but find new forms. In many cases, cities are growing so fast they are sprouting new residential and business districts as separate satellites around their peripheries. Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province in central China, is pursuing a particularly ambitious version of this strategy on the banks of nearby Meixi Lake.

There, New York-based Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) is master-planning a gigantic, 6.5 million square-meter satellite city from scratch. The project is being led by U.S. real-estate firm Gale International, in collaboration with information technology giant Cisco Systems. Modeled largely on KPF’s design for New Songdo City in South Korea, the Meixi Lake master plan places efficiency at its center, providing a variety of public modes of transportation (including subways, inter-city trains, and even electric canal boats) and taking an environmentally conscious approach to energy generation and use. The plan integrates city services—utilities, transportation and information technology—into the fabric of the city.

The plan also takes a rigorous approach to water conservation and treatment, taking advantage of Meixi Lake itself. A city-wide blackwater filtration system reuses graywater, while a system of filtration and water catchment collects and filters all the runoff water across the lake’s watershed. The plan also integrates the lake into a number of infrastructure projects and public amenities, such as a promenade featuring parks and recreation areas. The promenade also links to a variety of transportation links by boat both across the lake and into adjoining canals.

Meixi Lake’s business plan focuses on using its planning and environmental accolades to attract technology research and development offices. Those companies will occupy office towers that will ring the lake in the new city’s Central Business District. A KPF statement describes the hopes for the project: “The design of Meixi allows the vitality of a dense metropolis to be combined with the beneficial qualities of a natural setting. This forward looking community will be an ideal place to demonstrate new ideas about the way we live.”