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In their design brief, Avci Architects says sustainability, as a practice and as a goal, is key to unlocking the immense value lying dormant in the neighborhood just outside of the city. “Yet to unlock this potential and harness the power of nature, the project’s human activities must become part of the entire site’s natural ecosystem,” they write.

Related: Giant bubble biomes form the world’s largest greenhouse

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Their goal is to create a world class retail destination, which many locals would argue is the last thing the city needs. But they do acknowledge that in order to do so, it is essential to integrate the triple bottom line of true sustainability – ecology, economy and equity. The two square mile retail and residential project will avail itself of natural resources such as geothermal for heating and cooling and solar for natural light and passive heating in the cooler winter months.

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The design proposal suggests clear-cutting an area to build massive commercial centers may be replaced with the more-sensible strategy of gently merging the built and existing natural environment. This is turn could help tackle other pressing urban challenges – like pollution, for example.

+ Avci Architects