The 6th Sino-French Forum on Architectural and Urban Sustainable Development

Under the guidance of the French Ministry of Culture and the Nanjing Municipal Government, the 6thSino-French Urban and Building Sustainable Development Forum was successfully held in Nanjing on October 24th. It is the annual forum organized by the Sino-French Architectural Association and is jointly sponsored by the association and the Nanjing Urban Planning Bureau. It received strong support from a number of associations such as the French-Chinese Institute of Architecture and Urban-Rural Sustainable Development, The Center of Franco-Chinese City & Territory Association (CFC V&T) and the Nanjing Urban Planning Bureau. The theme of the forum was ”The Solution to Urban Problems under the Background of High Quality Development”, corresponding to the actual context of the transformation of urban development in Nanjing from epitaxial expansion to connotative and redefined development.

The day prior to the forum, Thierry Melot, the Chairman of the of the SFACS association, alongside with 11 other French architects and urbanist received warm welcome on their arrival at the Nanjing Urban Planning Bureau, from the Deputy Director Liu He and his team. The dozens of experts divided into three teams depending on their filed of expertise and each visited one of these following sites : The cityhall at The Gate of China, the Qilin Trams, the Yingtian Street Elevated Bridge. The groups met up again to visit the site of the Jiangsu Horticultural Exposition situated in TangShang. The on-site explanation by staffmembers at the Nanjing Urban Planning Bureau provided valuable first-hand information for the French Expert in the Round-Table Discussion on the day of the forum.

At 9am, 24thOctober, the forum kicked off at the Conference Center of the Nanjing TangShan Yishan Hot Spring Hotel, presided over by Li Liguo, Secretary General of the SFACS Association of China. Katherine Ruggeri, Director of Cultural Affairs of the French Ministry of Culture, General Commissioner of the 50thAnniversary of the Diplomatic Relations Establishment between China and France, Mr. Wang Chengjiang, Deputy Secretary of the Nanjing Urban Planning Bureau and Wang Jiaoguo, Academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering all gave their opening speech, respectively.

Thierry Melot gave a presentation on "The Ten Principles of Sustainable Development – Theory and Practice", using first a series of demographic and urbanization data to demonstrate the contraction between the rapidly growing urban population and the limited natural resources, he then stated that "sustainable development is a global battle that we all have to face and that its real enemy is no one but ourselves." Drawing from his 40-year long experience of being an architect and an urbanist, he explained the ten principles of sustainable development from a strategic stance, namely : I. Introspection of the future, II. Integration of common production and land use, III Construction of the city based on a refined public transportation network, IV. Construction around large-scale transportation hubs, V. Development of urban porosity, permeability, VI. Advocacy of proximity and diversity, VII. Promote self-sufficiency in energy use,VIII Management of water system resilience, IX, Creation of the iconic architectural piece, X. Highlight, strengthen the characteristics of blocks.

He Liu, Urbanist General of the Nanjing Urban Planning Bureau, was the second to deliver a speech. His speech centered around the subject of 'Challenges faced in a high-quality development of the Nanjing City.' The speech was divided into three sections:1. An overview of the City of Nanjing. 2. Current considerations of the Nanjing Urban Planning Bureau on the overall future planning of the city before 2030. 3. Challenges faced by the city in the process of high-quality development, including how to enhance the core competitiveness and international influence, how to strengthen the city’s development momentum, how to moderately reduce the vitality of the old city in terms of spatial patterns and to maintain the vitality of the old quarters, how to highlight the characteristics of the city etc.

The third guest speaker - Laure Meriaud, co-associate of l'Atelier 2/3/4/, gave a speech on 'Beyond Density, Optimizing Space'. She first expounded the integration of the campus concept with the urban high-density construction, and proposed the concept of ‘vertical campus’ and demonstrated the application of the concept in La Défense super high-rise buildings. Secondly, she then showed how to achieve invisible density through functional blending. Finally she showed how to improve he urban space quality while increasing the density of urban construction with a case of urban renewal in the southern gateway of Paris.

Parallel Round-Table Discussions were carried out in the afternoon, focused on three main topics: Urban Trams, Traffic Noise Control on the Highway, and Protection and Reuse of Historical Buildings.  

Among them, the Chinese and French guest speakers who participated in the 'Urban Tram' special Round-Table included Thierry Melot, Chairman of the Expert Committee of the SFACS Association, Julien Schnell, the founder and general manager of the French URBBNICA Office, Senior French urbanist Guillaume Faraut, Yao Tao, CEO of the Nanjing Urban and Transportation Planning and Design Institute, and Zhang Haijun, Vice President of Jiangsu Transportation Science and Technology Research Institute. The Forum was hosted by Li MingYe, Secretary General of the Paris Department of the SFACS Association. To begin with, Zhang Haijun introduced the development status, technical characteristics and misunderstandings of trams in China, and raised problems of insufficient passenger flow, high cost of construction and inaccurate positioning. Based on the previous days’ inspection of the Nanjing Jiling Trams. Based on information gathered the at the site visit, which took place the previous day, Schnell affirmed the technical characteristics and speed, but pointed out the issues with stations been relatively far from one and another and thus low accessibility to people who near the tram line. He believes that in the process of planning, one would need to consider to provide service to as many habitants as possible, and this should include people with disabilities, the elderly and children etc. For this reason, the issue with accessibility of the tram is particularly important. He then highlighted the importance of tram in the process of urban renewal and the promotion of urban public space. Therefore, the plannings of the tram would need to focus on the integration of the surrounding urban space. Faraut compared different types of traffic patterns and emphasized the advantages of trams over other modes of transportation: clean, quiet and comfortable. Next, he pointed out some design details, including the distance between the station line and the surrounding buildings, the width of the road and the floor. Yang Tao briefed everyone on some of the motivations for the development of China's trams in the past ten years, including the consideration of the government industry, the design side, and the engineering side in combination with their own background, and responded to Melot on the topic of sustainable development war. How to win, giving priority to the development of public transport, and considering the diversity of this transportation model. Melot concludes by pointing out that the development of China's trams should be service-oriented, involving urban governance issues rather than technical issues. At the same time, the dominant culture dominated by cars is yet to be transformed.

Those who participated in the Round-Table Discussion centered around "high-speed road traffic noise control" included. Laure Meriaud of 2/3/4, Chairman and founder of Delohom Acoustics, Jean Philippe Delhom (speech by his colleague Lou Liming), Wang Hongyang, Professor of School of Architecture and Urban Planning, Nanjing University, and Wu Ge, Dean of the Landscape Architecture and Tourism Planning and Design Branch of Jiangsu Urban Planning and Design Institute. The forum was hosted by He Liu General Planner. Zhang Wei, a planner of the Qixia Branch under the Nanjing Urban Planning Bureau, introduced the development status of the expressway in Nanjing and the existing noise reduction measures, and proposed possible measures to reduce the noise impact in terms of legal norms, engineering measures and planning measures. The colleague of Jean Philippe Delhom introduced the relevant French legal plan, and then explained the noise reduction measures from the aspects of sound source control, building facade treatment and noise masking. In the case of Paris, Meriaud introduced the experience of noise reduction in France, including the provisions for vehicle deceleration, the design of houses along the street, the treatment of pavement materials, the setting of vegetation, and the transformation of transportation hubs. Professor Wang looked at the problem of noise management from the perspective of urban governance and pointed out how the social cost is burdened. Dean Wu Ge combined his own experience to introduce the way of noise reduction from the perspective of greening measures. Following the presentation was open discussion time between French and Chinese specialists and audience.

Specialists who participated in the Round-Table Discussion on the theme of “Protection and Reuse of Historic Buildings” were the head of the project department of SCET, architect, planner, Jelena Stamenković, president of l’Atelier Schweitzer, Professor at the Paris-Val-de-Seine, member of the National Building Industry Committee, Marie Schweitzer, French structural engineer, registered architect, and member of the International Scientific Committee expert Nicolas Cheval (speech by Jean-Marie Cheval), Zhou Qi, professor at the School of Architecture at Southeast University, and Wei Yuli, Professor at the School of Architecture at Nanjing University of Technology. The host of this Round-Table is Yao Jingjing, Urbanist General at the Sino-French Architecture and Urban and Rural Sustainable Development Research Institute. Professor Zhou Qi started off by introducing the spatial distribution of Nanjing's historic heritage and the resulting urban spatial pattern of Nanjing, focusing on the southernmost end of the Nanjing City Wall: Zhonghuamen, Laomendong, and Laomenxi. He also mentioned the preservation and reuse of Nanjing's industrial heritage. Jelena Stamenković mainly introduced how to carry out transformation in a place with high density in the old town square. She explained with a number of case studies such as the Lyon Confluence Area Planning, the Bass Warehouse, and the small city of Annemasse, that the renewal of the city is not unilateral. It is but the result of a combined effort of the government, developers and its residents. Schweitzer introduced some of the projects her office has done in Paris, especially the timber-framed buildings for the study of wooden buildings in Jiangxi and other places in China. She provided suggestions for the renovation of the old west area. Jean-Marie Cheval analyzed the repairing methods of traditional wooden structures from the perspective of building structure, including diagnosis, modeling analysis, and safety transformation.

Afterwards, all guests and specialists participated in the special round table of 'Jiangsu Province Horticultural Exposition Expo Park'. The forum was hosted by Liu Qingyu, Deputy Director of the Nanjing Urban Planning Bureau. Martin Duplantier, the founder of the French architect society of Martin Duplantier, provided the planning and construction of the Jiangsu Horticultural Expo Expo Park with examples such as: the docks of the Bordeaux Gallen River, the Zhangjiajie Air Corridor in Hunan, and the Moscow Forest Park. reference. Jérȏme Dumas, Landscape Architect at INTERSCENE Landscape Architects, France, introduced the French Ange Botanical Garden, which took 10 years to design and finished building in 2010. Dean Wu Hao introduced the background of Jiangsu Horticultural Exposition Expo Park from the perspectives of site selection, location, function and project planning. Karim Thibault, the project leader of BIOTOP in France, based on the pit landscape of the Tangshan base of Yuanboyuan, gave a detailed introduction of France's experience in mine repair. Dean Yang Tao put forward his own suggestions for the perspective of the traffic planning of the Garden Expo Park. Professor Zhou Qi expressed his opinions on the expected timing operating methods of the project. Jelena Stamenković analyzed the cooperation between the public sector and the private sector. Professor Wang Hongyang talked about the future vision, multi-objective coordination, adhering to the overall optimal principle. Laure Meriaud talked about the subsequent use of the base after the big event in conjunction with the Paris Olympics project.

After the specialized Round-Table Discussions, Thierry Melot and Director Ye Bin gave closing speeches respectively. Melot expressed his gratitude to the Nanjing Municipal Government and the Nanjing Urban Planning Bureau for their strong support, the summarized the development of the event from a global perspective, reaffirming the importance of sustainable development and the transformation of the paradigm of planning and construction and the adherence of principles. Ye Bin made a four-point summary of the forum, affirming first, the importance of preparation on both sides, second, the pragmatic nature of themes at the forum, third, maintain a high-level technical exchanges and academic exchanges, fourth, the increased reputation of the Sino-French Association in Nanjing, lastly, he sincerely invited the French experts and their representatives’ design units and academic institutions to actively participate in the relevant planning and architectural design of Nanjing to further improve the quality and level of urban planning and construction in Najing. The forum ended on a good note.