Rebuild inspiration from around the world

COMMENDED: The Vancouver Olympic Village in Canada transformed seven hectares of urban land into a sustainable community.
COMMENDED: The Vancouver Olympic Village in Canada transformed seven hectares of urban land into a sustainable community.

Christchurch is not the only city rebuilding. Economic and social change, and environmental pressure, are forcing architects and planners around the world to re-imagine cities in bold and exciting ways.

The World Architecture News Urban Design Awards recognise the best in international urban design, landscape, and infrastructure.

Two categories are offered: recently-completed projects and future unbuilt or design-only projects. Wouldn't it be great for Christchurch to enter?

JOINT WINNER: The Guthrie Green Urban Park in Oklahoma features a cafe pavilion, gardens and lawn space for festivals.
JOINT WINNER: The Guthrie Green Urban Park in Oklahoma features a cafe pavilion, gardens and lawn space for festivals.

New Zealand's isolation can shut us off from overseas trends. It's worth finding out more; other cities can inspire and stimulate us to create better design. Below are the top projects from the 2013 awards. Several elements unite these disparate designs. They include good connections, with a focus on people, minimising car traffic and encouraging public transport; landscaping and environmentally friendly design; respect for the past while adapting for the future; and the creation of mixed-use neighbourhoods.

Could Christchurch learn from some of these projects?

Nanjing Xiaguan Riverfront Master Plan, Nanjing, China, by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP - joint winner

A 236-hectare Master Plan radically transforms three kilometres of long-neglected waterfront along the Yangtze River, Nanjing's former port. The plan defines eight unique mixed- use neighbourhoods and strengthens connections with Nanjing's centre. Amenities are within walking distance.

Historic elements will be preserved and adapted. Existing buildings will be renovated as hotels, galleries, boutiques, and cafes.

Two old industrial canals will become water features, and a former power plant will be transformed into a cultural centre.

Guthrie Green Urban Park, Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States, by SWA Group - joint winner

Officially completed in September 2012, Guthrie Green is a 1.09 ha urban park named for singer-songwriter Woody Guthrie.

The downtown park has a multipurpose lawn for performances and festivals, an outdoor stage with vine-covered "green rooms", gardens with interactive fountains, and a 1040 sq m cafe pavilion covered with photovoltaic panels. A ground- source heat pump system was also installed. As well as cultural events, Guthrie Green's public market offers fresh produce and local crafts.

Place Lalla Yeddouna, Fez, Morocco, by Mossessian & Partners - commended

The designers won an open international competition to regenerate a Unesco world heritage site.

The plan reconnects the square to the riverfront and the Medina, a labyrinth of historic narrow streets. Fez has a hot harsh climate and is also located within a seismic zone.

The design is based on traditional Moroccan architecture. Passive solar technology uses concrete structures and traditional materials to increase the thermal mass of buildings.

The Vancouver Olympic Village, Vancouver, Canada, by GBL Architects Inc. (collaborative partnership) - commended

The Vancouver Olympic Village development has transformed seven hectares of urban industrial land into a vibrant sustainable community.

The project comprises residential, commercial, heritage restoration, community facilities, outdoor areas and public space including two parks, a central plaza, a habitat restoration "island" and a recreational waterfront promenade.

The entire neighbourhood was certified as the greenest in North America at the time of certification.

New city centre, Kiruna, Sweden, by White arkitekter AB - shortlist

The challenge to relocate Kiruna's city centre attracted architects from around the world.

White's winning proposal titled "Kiruna 4-ever" creates a sustainable vision for the long- term expansion of the city eastwards as a welcoming, global town connected to the Arctic environment.

Other components are The Kiruna Dialogue, in which residents provide input on long- term planning; The Kiruna Portal, a communal shop for housing manufacture, a "build it yourself" facility, and recycling depot; and The Kiruna Biennale, an exhibition to showcase progress.

Georgia Multi-Modal Passenger Terminal, Atlanta, Georgia, United States, by FXFOWLE - shortlist

The Georgia Multi-Modal Passenger Terminal Master Plan will link existing bus networks with planned commuter rail, high-speed rail, and streetcar networks; knit together cut-off neighbourhoods, disjointed street grids, and disconnected open spaces; and create development opportunities in a vibrant, mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly district.

Zeytouneh Square, Beirut, Lebanon, by Gustafson Porter LLP - shortlist

The square is situated at the southern end of Beirut's Shoreline Walk, which defines old and new parts of the city - "located between memories of the past and hopes for the future."

It features an informal amphitheatre, bold paving referencing traditional Lebanese architecture, benches under shady trees, and water channels and fountains. Since opening in 2012, the square has become popular for public art exhibitions, concerts, festivals, and films.

Fayetteville 2030: Food City Scenario, Fayetteville, Arkansas, United States. University of Arkansas Community Design Center - shortlist

Food City envisions a future based upon "food producing urbanism beyond individual gardens."

The proposal for "agroecology" encompasses a range of systems including food processing and distribution, composting, waste management, GROW Streets (Gardened Right-of-Way), street orchards, and edible front yards.

Click here for world architecture awards website

The Press