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Tencent net city

Tencent to build ‘Net City’ in Shenzhen

Image credit: NBBJ, Tencent

Chinese tech giant Tencent has revealed its plans to build a Monaco-sized 'Net City' in Shenzhen, which it aims to make almost entirely free of driven vehicles, instead prioritising pedestrians, green spaces and autonomous vehicles.

The development will cover two square kilometres in Shenzhen, where Tencent – one of the world’s largest companies – is headquartered. It will be located in a patch of reclaimed land running into the Pearl River estuary and will be connected to the rest of the city via bridges, ferries and the city metro.

It will accommodate approximately 80,000 people and will be primarily for Tencent use, with some spaces accessible to the public. As well as accommodation and offices, the new district will feature seafront promenades, parks, shops, schools, sports facilities and entertainment venues.

The scale, shapes and heights of the buildings will vary throughout the district, creating a range of views of nature, other buildings and the rest of Shenzhen.

It is being designed by US-based architecture firm NBBJ, which won an international competition last year to select the designer for the site. According to design partner Jonathan Ward, the district will mark a departure from the sumptuous but closed campuses favoured by other large technology companies.

“It’s definitely a destination, [it has] a civic component,” he told CNN. “It’s not meant to be an isolated island, for sure, it’s a vibrant city. People will pass by it, it’s connected and it will be a vital hub for Shenzhen.”

Ward added that NBBJ aimed to minimise driving as much as possible in order to focus on people in an “interconnected, humane and human-focused organic ecosystem”. He explained that, for instance, they plan to “subdue” roads by replacing some with spaces for people to walk and be inspired by nature and colleagues. He admitted that he hoped to bring “more interaction between different parts of life” by blurring boundaries between professional and private lives.

Tencent Net City from above

NBBJ

Image credit: NBBJ, Tencent

There will be limited access for conventional vehicles, with a focus on pedestrians, green spaces and autonomous vehicles. A “green corridor” for buses, bicycles and autonomous vehicles will be the backbone of the district, running down its length. Designs from NBBJ show towering, irregularly-shaped buildings (many with solar roof panels or grass-covered rooftops) rising up from green spaces.

The district will take approximately seven years to complete.

In January, Toyota announced plans for a prototype “city of the future” at the base of Mount Fuji, in which only autonomous vehicles would be permitted. The space would be used to test autonomous vehicles, assistance robots and other technologies. Recently, Sidewalk Labs (an Alphabet subsidiary) called off a controversial plan to transform a Toronto waterfront into a smart urban space, citing concerns about its financial viability.

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