Shanghai, China

Sustainable Shanghai

Client: City of Shanghai

Role: General planner

Define, Design


A major demographic milestone occurred at the beginning of the 21st century, when the earth’s population became more urban than rural. While urban development leaders have been focusing on dense, compact developments in city centers to address population growth and climate change in the new urban millennium, the Shanghai Municipal Government recognized that most of the population growth in emerging and developing countries will take place outside city centers. To address sustainable rural and suburban development, the city was looking for a scalable real estate development approach for residential communities.


Located in a rural area adjacent to the urban edge of Shanghai, the 2-million-square-foot master plan is a replicable node for a community of 5,000 people. The residential neighborhoods incorporate a series of public spaces to encourage walkability. The building heights step down toward the river, opening the community up to the south to maximize the utility of natural resources like sun, wind, water, and thermal mass. The net-zero-energy building design combines traditional elements of climate-responsive Chinese architecture with innovative technology, including a site-specific rooftop rainwater collection system.


WOWA WEST helped the Shanghai Municipal Government to better understand the opportunities of climate-responsive design and sustainable urban development. “The masterplan has it all: lifestyle diversity, minimized environmental impact, economical design, and more,” according to Architectural Record. While the focus of this strategic initiative was on the Greater Shanghai Area, the program is highly relevant to urban management, planning, and design at the local, regional, and global scales. In particular, it made public agency leaders and private-sector companies more aware of the benefits of environmental sustainability and climate-responsive design.