Case Studies

Beijing, Chaoyang CBD


Project Director
Tim Stonor

China Academy of Urban Planning & Design
Beyond Green
The Bartlett, University College London

Beijing CBD Administration Authority
Chaoyang District Government

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The new CBD: view towards the north-east

Showing the diagonal Green Spine and Central Square, which together define the heart of the scheme.

Working as a design union, The China Academy of Urban Planning & Design (CAUPD) and Space Syntax have created a low carbon masterplan for the extension of Beijing’s CBD – one that puts people first.

The opportunity

The Central Business District (CBD) of Beijing is schedule to grow substantially in the near future. Initial growth is designated for the Chaoyang district to its north-east. Seven teams, including one co-led by Space Syntax, were invited to create visions for this expansion. The brief for the competition put a significant emphasis on the twin themes of sustainability and people-centred design.

The existing CBD is characterised by high levels of vehicle traffic, high demands on public transport infrastructure and energy-intensive buildings. People travel long distances to reach the CBD and there is a high degree of severance between the CBD and surrounding neighbourhoods. There is a shortage of public open space and of convivial, non-commercial activities.

Our contribution

CAUPD invited Space Syntax to create a “design union” to tackle these problems and, in doing so, to develop a radically different vision for the future. Space Syntax contributed both visionary design thinking and objective urban evaluation techniques to the design union.

The outcome

The design union developed a vision for Chaoyang that has five guiding principles: first, to celebrate the deep history of the district, including the ancient movement routes and landmark buildings; second, to integrate new development with the existing CBD and the surrounding urban neighbourhoods in order to embrace the wider city; third, to promote a total energy solution for the new CBD incorporating resource-efficient consumption and renewable energy generation; fourth, to establish a civic identity for the new CBD based on human-scale streets and public spaces; fifth, to balance historic preservation with redevelopment to create a harmonious historic continuity.

A set of core planning principles were developed with CAUPD to guide further design development. The design principles were then brought together into a spatial layout that was tested and developed using Space Syntax’s urban modelling technology.

The overall vision is to create a new, low carbon environment that offers a place for human interaction and a stage for cultural celebration. Every building within this vision has been designed to be a power station, generating energy and controlling emissions. The masterplan includes sustainable transport systems in which pedestrian movement, cyclists and public transport usage are encouraged by connecting key routes for different transport modes at every scale.

Further information

Space Syntax Studio page
Details of our work leading the planning & design of buildings & urban areas.

Low carbon spatial layout

The fine-grained network of boulevards, streets and pathways connects people throughout the development, integrating the site with its urban context. These links encourage movement on foot and cycle; they also promote shorter-distance vehicle trips.

Integrated mix of urban activities

The varied land use pattern brings people closer to a greater range of complementary uses, reducing travel times and conserving energy.

Energy Tower: a place for hands-on education

The historic Power Plant is preserved and converted into a renewable energy factory.

Golden Stage: at the heart of culture and innovation

The opera house acts as the main cultural attraction, supported by a critical mass of creative industries.

Central space - a Golden Stage

The principal focus of the masterplan gathers movement from every direction, bringing people together for trade, leisure, retail, entertainment and all forms of central urban living.