The Grand Canal, which links Hangzhou to Beijing, is the longest canal in the world at 1776 km and also one of the oldest. A new mixed-use project by Allen Jack+Cottier will grace its shores in Suqian City, Jiangsu province. Centered around the canal for inspiration as well as transportation, the development includes a five-star hotel, serviced apartments, villas, retail and golf course. Also included in the design are a number of green building strategies that reduce the impact of such a large development, like green roofs, energy efficient design, and water-efficient systems.

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AJ+C worked in collaboration with ASA Architects on the design of the water-centered development, which would create an artificial channel off the main canal. This new channel is the main axis around which the development sits and leads directly into the main atrium of the hotel. Taller buildings represent mountains, while the intersection between buildings and water serve as “landscapes”.

As this is a large development, it will certainly have an environmental impact, and the designers make no claim that their project can be ecological, but they have included some sustainable strategies to minimize the impact, especially regarding the Grand Canal. Green roofs cover most of the main building, and also act to capture rainwater and reduce stormwater runoff into the canal. Rain water is harvested and grey water is recycled. Reed ponds in the artificial channel help filter and clean the water, while power use is reduced with highly energy-efficient double glazing systems.