If money were no object, what would the ideal city of the future look like? Laboratory for Visionary Architecture (LAVA) answered that question with a spectacular design for the Forest City, a proposed masterplan for a new city in Malaysia. This 20-square-kilometer green smart city would be built around a central rainforest and mimic the forest’s ecosystem by adopting a closed loop system that reuses all its resources and controls out-flow.



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Winner of the second place prize in an international design competition, the Forest City was created for a 24-hectare site and judged on its efficiency of land use, sensitivity to the environment, and inclusion of a landmark building that embodied the notion of a forest city. “Skylines across the world look the same—usually a couple of iconic towers in the center surrounded by lots of lesser quality buildings, which all resemble each other,” said Chris Bosse, director of LAVA. “Here we have designed an inverse city skyline where the icon of the city is a public space, not an object/building. Our central space is a Rainforest Valley and demonstrates the equation: PEOPLE = CITY. From an object to a place.”

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The proposed city for 700,000 people would be located on reclaimed land between Malaysia and Singapore and include office towers, residential areas, parks, hotels, shopping malls, and an international school. The city is organized around a central public space, the Rainforest Valley, which is surrounded by a waterfall and serves as a visual reminder of the city as a three-dimensional ecosystem. The valley extends like fingers in five directions to represent the five elements—wood, fire, earth, metal, and water—as well as the five pillars of sustainability.

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A group of buildings step down towards the green park and are heavily landscaped with roof gardens. A Landmark Tower will house the serviced apartments, hotels, retail and commercial space. As a pedestrian-friendly development, the design separates the circulation types by directing vehicular traffic underground and placing trains on a level above pedestrian walkways. Like a rainforest, the city will be designed as a mostly closed loop system with recycling processes hidden underground and outflow minimized. Local materials would be used in construction and energy generated from renewable sources.

+ Laboratory for Visionary Architecture