TLS creates a natural framework to define Xiong’an’s urban form

Xiong’an New Area

In 2018, Xiong’an New Area started gathering urban design schemes globally for the Boot Area. After receiving entries from more than 200 applicants, 12 firms from 10 countries were selected to participate in the urban design competition. After the review and comparison by global experts, the design scheme by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) and Tom Leader Studio (TLS) stood out because of its global vision, international standard, Chinese characteristics and advanced positioning.

Xiong’an New Area

The landscape, designed by TLS, creates a natural framework to define Xiong’an’s urban form. Tom Leader added: “When we first thought about what will make this city exceptional in the world, we asked ourselves these questions: How people will live here in a new way? How can their lives integrate with nature and Baiyangdian? How will the new residents establish their social fabric? What cultural legacy will inform these new social spaces?”

For thousands of years, Baiyangdian—the vast freshwater lake adjacent to Xiong’an— has witnessed the interdependent relationship between humans and nature, which is also the design inspiration for the selected scheme’s theme of “City for Life”. The urban design vision centers around people’s lives and provides the foundation for an ever-evolving city. The native landscape of forests and wetlands is deeply interwoven with the city along new waterways.  Much as a new tree flourishes on the shoreline, Xiong-an’s open space has its roots in Baiyangdian with its trunk, branches, and fruits growing deep into the city. Returning to ecological living based on the seasons will provide the residents with health, wellbeing and quality of life.


Xiong’an New Area

We suggest a natural model and metaphor of a shoreline tree for growing the nature of this new ecological city. A small seedling tree grows on the shoreline – it has its roots within the nurturing waters of Baiyangdian, it extends its limbs and twigs over time into the air evolving its scale and the complexity of trunk, branches, twigs, and leaves. In the same way, the waters of Baiyangdian are invited into the city itself creating a bay, extending itself through steams and canals, into neighborhoods and small parks, bioswales and rivulets, finally reaching the balcony of one person’s living space. As the lake and water grow within the city, biological diversity both flora, fauna, and flocks of birds will follow, creating the sustainable backbone structure of the city’s open space. In a similar way, residents of Xiongan should be able to follow a drop of rain all the through this urban ecosystem to the lake itself. The structure of this tree of water and nature is profoundly interwoven with the forms and functions of the city as well as Baiyangdian.

Xiong’an New Area
Xiong’an New Area


Our vision for Xiong’an is to have a city that will make people’s daily life more closed to nature, and can feel the changes of nature, flowers, birds, insects, sun and moon stars, and the sense of meaning that these changes are connected with our life. We introduced China’s 24 solar terms as a cultural concept of landscape planning.

Xiong’an New Area

Twenty-four solar terms are Chinese people`s most delicate expression of nature, and they are a cultural gene rooted in the homeland. For thousands of years, it has profoundly affected people’s life rhythm, folklore, poetry literature, natural aesthetics and emotional experience. The solar terms also make people aware of the changes and living conditions of animals and plants. The landscape design of the start-up area should have a keen and unique expression of natural phenological and its seasonal changing. Through the characteristics and atmosphere of the place, plant design, outdoor activity planning, habitat creation, landscape element design and cultural significance, the phenological characteristics of the solar terms are highlighted. Let the public use the landscape as a medium to perceive the phenological phenomena brought about by seasonal changes, thus encouraging urban life that respects nature and harmoniously coexist with animals and plants. Combining the unique life experience related to solar terms into the leisure activities and recreation needs of modern cities, the natural changes will have a meaningful impact on urban life, providing a new paradigm for the natural Chinese urban landscape.

Xiong’an New Area

Xiong’an New Area

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) and Tom Leader Studio (TLS)

Project Area 38sqkm
Landscape Area 12 sqkm

Urban Landscape Planning and Design

Xiong’an, China

About Damian Holmes 3292 Articles
Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at