The rapidly growing Urumqi in Northwest China has become the largest urban agglomeration in Central Asia, home to more than 5.1 million residents. Due to the high development dynamics and climate-sensitive environmental conditions, Urumqi faces serious challenges to achieve sustainable development.
In close cooperation with the Chinese partners, the project Integrated Planning for the Development in a Climate-Sensitive Urban Region in Western China/Central Asia – RESILIENT Urumqi (RESURC) works on developing an integrated planning approach to improve the resilience and to facilitate the realisation of sustainability in the region. The Urumqi Economic and Technological Development (UETD) District is particularly suited for this purpose. The project intends:
- to drastically reduce CO2 and pollutant emissions and to improve the urban climate with a particular focus on air quality
- to optimise the urban supply and disposal systems to increase their adaptability and to lower the vulnerability
- to consider systemic interdependencies and urban-rural relations to explore additional synergies.
Item 1 focuses on a smart alliance regarding the further development between industrial zones and neighbouring residential areas in UETD. It includes a newly modified and diversified mobility concept, an urbanistic ventilation model to dissipate residual pollutant emissions, and measures aimed to increase the resistance to extreme weather events and prevent serious health hazards. Options for improving resource efficiency in industrial areas will be explored, and unavoidable waste heat, wastewater, and waste materials, as well as electricity surplus, are transported to and exploited in residential areas through a proper infrastructure (and vice versa to some extent). Combining industrial with residential areas and the generation of systemic interactions create recovery options and synergies not feasible otherwise, with substantial savings and efficiency effects regarding emissions.
Item 2 focuses on an intelligent mix of centralised and decentralised systems, such as combining district and local heat or decentralised power provision through the combination of fossil and renewable energy. The diversification and decentralising of supply and disposal systems increase adaptability and resilience including the responding capacities to future development. It lowers the vulnerability by providing multiple dispersive structures as subsystems with the associated redundancy.
Item 3 includes urban-rural relations to be considered systematically as a part of the previously named planning aspects. They play a role, for example, in the power provision with renewable energies. Regarding the urban climate and ventilation concept, the development of regional green corridors and free space systems makes vital contributions to the consideration of generation areas and pathways of fresh air. The urban-rural relations are equally important for the regional water balance, wastewater, and wastes, as well.
The integrated planning approach, which shall maximise synergistic effects between the complex tasks, results in an inter- and transdisciplinary cooperation within the project consortium. Coordinated by IUWA – Institute for Eco-Industrial Analyses, the joint project also relies on competences of Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences (FRA-UAS), the AT-Association (AT-V), and several subcontractors for crucial engineering-specific subtasks.
The research work will be realised in close cooperation with Chinese partners and supported by political decision-makers. Trustful relations with the Chinese partners have been maintained in precursor projects since 2005. The project approaches typical issues and phenomena of rapidly growing Chinese cities, leading to a high level of transferability of the results and solutions.
During the 18-months definition phase, the representative investigation areas will be well defined after the preliminary data gathering action. Conceptual approaches with a better focusing will be developed for an integrated planning towards a resilient UETD/Urumqi covering supply and disposal infrastructures, transport and mobility, ventilation, open and green space networks, etc, under the consideration of synergies.