Team from Tonji University wins Vertical Cities Asia competition with innovative solution to urban agriculture.

Singapore, 11 July 2013 -- The National University of Singapore’s (NUS) School of Design and Environment, together with international philanthropic organisation World Future Foundation Ltd (WFF) and Beijing Vantone Citylogic Investment Corporation (Vantone Citylogic), today announced the winners of the third Vertical Cities Asia International Design Competition. This annual student competition seeks to address the problems of urban sprawl, congestion and pollution faced by Asia’s overcrowded cities.

This year’s competition focuses on urban agriculture where teams were challenged to designed solutions for sustainable production of a safe and varied food supply for a site located near Hanoi in Vietnam. A total of 20 teams from 10 universities in Asia, Europe and the United States took part in the competition. The participating universities are: NUS; The Chinese University of Hong Kong; Tongji University; Tsinghua University; University of Tokyo; Delft University of Technology; ETH Zurich; University of California at Berkeley; University of Michigan; and University of Pennsylvania.

Mr Ng Lang, Chief Executive Officer of Urban Redevelopment Authority presented prizes to the winning teams at the awards presentation ceremony held at NUS.

Tongji University’s Team B was awarded the first prize with the winning entry titled “Close City”, while teams from ETH Zurich and NUS took the second and third place, respectively. The winning submissions were awarded cash prizes of S$15,000, S$10,000 and S$5,000.

Vertical Cities Asia International Design Competition was jointly launched by the NUS and WFF in January 2011. The initiative aims to find new urban models for cities that cater to a greater population without compromising quality of life. To be held annually over a five-year period, the initiative is supported by a S$1.5 million gift from WFF and Vantone Citylogic.

“Everyone Harvests”

The third of a series of five competitions, this year’s competition explores the theme "Everyone Harvests". By the year 2050, food production is projected to increase by about 70 per cent globally and nearly 100 per cent in developing countries in order to meet the needs of the world's expected 9 billion-strong population . However this incremental demand for food worldwide is facing growing challenge with competition for land and water resources, with a quarter of all land on the planet being highly degraded.

With projections of nearly 80 per cent of the world population residing in urban centers by the year 2050, participants were challenged to come up with potential solutions for an entirely new approach to urban agriculture.

Proposals are required to provide visions for a sustainable production of a safe and varied food supply that fulfill the basic needs of the daily consumption of the cities. In addition, their proposed solutions should also introduce innovative ways to effectively utilise resources, such as minimising water, saving energy and their associated costs related to urban agriculture.

Professor Heng Chye Kiang, Dean of the NUS School of Design and Environment said, “As Asia urbanises, many of its cities will adopt the paradigm of high density and high capacity vertical cities in order to limit urban sprawl, protect agricultural land and optimise resource deployment. This is especially pertinent in highly populated countries with limited developable land – a condition that is prevalent in Asia.”

“Through the creation of the Vertical Cities Asia Competition and Symposium, we have provided a platform for staff and students from the consortium of ten participating universities across three continents to research on the various opportunities and challenges associated with this paradigm and spearhead an international effort to confront the realities of Asia’s fast-pace high-density urbanisation, thus formulating appropriate sustainable solutions for very high density cities.”

Dr Feng Lun, Chairman of WFF said, “The WFF is passionate about promoting research on environmental sustainability. We are pleased to offer our continued support to this initiative as we believe that congestion, depletion of natural resources and the various social ills of urbanisation are key issues faced by all Asian cities. Now in its third year, the Vertical Cities Asia Competition has provided these bright young minds an opportunity to create fresh and exciting solutions for a world in great need of new paradigms. It is through initiatives such as this competition that we will discover new models of sustainable urban living. I look forward to what future competitions will bring.”

About the Competition

Students of architecture and related disciplines from 10 universities were tasked to design one square kilometre of land for 100,000 people in a site that is located about 17km to the west of the city centre of Hanoi, Vietnam. This site is part of the Hoai Duc District.

Participating teams had earlier selected area of one square kilometre within the designated site, and went on to design a holistic solution or a new urban paradigm to address the issue of sustainable food production, taking into account factors such as density, liveability and sustainability specific to the rapid and exponential growth of urbanism in Asia.

Two proposals from each university were selected for the finals. The Design Jury assessed the entries in five areas: sustainability (environmental); quality of life (inclusiveness and community); technical innovation (technology and techniques); relationship to context (place, awareness of conditions, climate and cultural context); and feasibility (buildability, financial and social support).

¹ Source: United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation
² Source: United Nations