Rising Seas,
Delta City

With the first-place proposal for the Shantou New East Coastal Area, NBBJ outlined an urban design vision to guide Shantou through an unpredictable future, as a coastal city shaped by climate change.

The “One Shantou: Now, Tomorrow and the Future” vision plan (one of two proposals awarded first prize) respects the extensive planning and land reclamation that had already been completed by local and regional authorities, avoiding the common pitfall of international design competitions that overlook local insight and previous investments. It also challenges the notion that competitive advantage requires a city to develop its prime real estate along coastal waterfronts.

Instead, the One Shantou vision locates the densest areas of building inland, away from potential storm surges. As in many post-industrial coastal cities, this opens the waterfront for public space and cultural uses.

The resulting “delta city” concept includes three major areas — the Xinjin Wellness District, Xinxi Urban Center District and Tagangwei Creative Eco-District — each oriented around a series of urban green spaces and canals that connect to the Rong, Xinjin and Waisha River systems. In addition to new residential neighborhoods, the plan provides a new regional government center, a central business district, and an experimental innovation zone for coastal engineering and next-generation agriculture.

Development Phases

The master plan proposes five phases of development to allow for incremental construction as financing and market conditions allow, beginning with the restoration of aquatic habitats.

Xinjin Wellness District

Along with mangrove restoration throughout the delta, the first phase will entail the development of the area closest to the existing city center: the Xinjin Wellness District, which includes athletic facilities as well as residential and commercial areas.

Phase 1

Xinxi Urban Center District — Government Center and Central Park

The core of the urban plan, the Xinxi Urban Center District, will be constructed in three phases, beginning with the Government Center and Central Park, along with major transit hubs to seed further development.

Phase 2

Xinxi Urban Center District — Urban District

The urban core of the Xinxi District includes cultural attractions and a high-rise commercial district for international headquarters offices, all centered on a Grand Canal that provides public access to the waterfront, including residential development and dockside markets.

Phase 3

Xinxi Urban Center District — North District and Next-Generation Agriculture

To the north of the urban core, agricultural districts will reach back to the existing outskirts of Shantou.

Phase 4

Tagangwei Creative Eco-District

Finally, the Tagangwei Creative Eco-District includes spaces for high-tech, agriculture and aquaculture research and development. Here, too, a public lake and canals bring residents and workers into close contact with the water.

Phase 5

The “Delta City” and Climate Change

The plan suggests a “delta city” not only because of its location, but also for its environmentally sound approach to water maintenance. To mitigate the threat that climate change poses to coastal cities, the plan incorporates a variety of strategies to increase resilience: berms and levees, artificial wetlands to absorb waves and floodwaters, dunes, storm surge barriers, and offshore breakwaters. Furthermore, while parks provide valuable public space, they also store and filter stormwater. The result reorients the city to the water and makes it accessible, useful, enjoyable and safe.