Maria de Juan

WeTown, city of the future for easy living

What if life, play and work are within an eight minute walking distance?

This ambitious project in Vancouver aims to set the benchmark for a new wave of cities of the future around our planet. It is imagined and created in Honk Kong by the studio AOA, initials of Avoid Obvious Architects.

The concept calls for a fully integrated sustainable city in Vancouver, Canada, that entails 36 buildings of condominiums, offices, gardens, playgrounds, gyms and shops.

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In this new WeTown, everything is connected by a highly walkable public realm and a high elevation walking loop that bridges towering skyscrapers.

An interesting fact is that Vancouver is among the Canadian cities with the highest population density and ethnic diversity in the entire country.

This unique city project has an original name: WeTown. It has been awarded with the prestigious Architecture MasterPrize in the section of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning.

Avoid Obvious Architects is the winner firm with their unique project creation. Their originality starts with their own company name, giving the clients a subliminal tip: to avoid normal (obvious) architects.

They place green and happy design at the core of their practice. With over twenty years of experience in urban planning, the Hong Kong based team delivers award-winning buildings and cities.

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AOA creators believe design is a collaborative process to discover the greener and happier ways to live, work and play. As their name suggests, Avoid Obvious Architects, they find unique solutions to bring green smiles to everyone.

For WeTown, the brief was deceptively simple: to provide a town design which allows 40,000 people to have their home, working place, gym, garden, pool and outdoor leisure, all within a minimum transfer time.

AOA conducted an international survey to see how people can improve their work-life balance.

Using huge data and suggestions, they came up with a list of priorities and several must-have items. They compared the results with a similar survey done in Canada. They cross examined, looking similarities and differences.

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They implemented these planning qualities including efficient transportation, proximity to destination, better walkability and more nature. The new qualities also emphasised on more public art, better jobs and increase food options.

Getting water, drainage and traffic to work for 40,000 inhabitants is the biggest challenge. They work with traffic engineers and a mechanical engineer to come up with solutions for road expansion, car-sharing programs, water reduction programs, rainwater collection and grey water recycling.

The eight minute journey from home to work will be filled with greenery activities, excitement and a farmers market. Different outdoor and indoor strategies are designed to promote an active lifestyle.

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Other active and passive elements are also used in the buildings as a master plan to promote healthy habits. WeTown provides a sustainable, walkable and healthy city for 40,000 residents in Canada.

Reducing our reliance on automobiles, the project provides a walkable loop to connect 36 buildings of apartments, offices and shops.

Detailed conceptual artistic renderings show high-quality architecture, extensive landscaping, green roofs, special event spots, festival spaces, significant public areas, amenities, sports and recreational facilities, etc…

Smart system is also deployed to reduce water consumption, increase energy efficiency and promote local food.

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Following is an interview with Vicky Chan of Avoid Obvious Architects about WeTown (published by aoarchitects). In Ms. Chan’s own words:

“We are especially proud of the fact that WeTown is a collective idea from people around the World. I chose to follow this career path because I want to make the world a greener and happier place. The biggest influences and the people I most admire are my parents. They gave up their own dreams to create a situation where I can pursue my dream. I wish families never have to live in conditions such as those I experienced and my designs are a direct result of this: to improve life for other people who are in the same situation I was. I like to share things with my family, friends and students and, as such, I am against the concept of ownership. I would love to share a tree house in the forest where I can work, live and play. We believe our discipline makes a real difference to the world because we are creating cities to improve lives. This is a huge mission and it takes a lot of time.
In the future we want more women in our office to drive the design direction.”

That is the head-turning futuristic vision of a case study urban planning concept called ‘WeTown’, which appears to be located in Abbotsford’s emerging Auguston Area, on a large site just south of McKee Road near Blauson Boulevard, and a five minute drive from Highway 1.

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Architecture Masterprize

In 2018 the firm Avoid Obvious Architects won the Architecture MasterPrize in the section of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning.

This Prize is from Los Angeles (USA) and it honours projects in various disciplines such as landscaping and interior design, with the goal of advancing the appreciation of architecture worldwide.

When receiving the award, Ms. Vicky Chan said:

“We are deeply honoured to be recipients of the Architecture MasterPrize. I have shared my joy with my client who, in turn, shared it with the city’s mayor in Canada. The awards have created a good conversation and a chain effect to promote my ideas to create greener and happier cities.”

The WeTown city concept invented by Avoid Obvious Architects has roots in a deep philosophy: good design is a joyous and happy creation, something that can truly change the world for the better.

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