WeTown, Abbotsford, Canada
Avoid Obvious Architects

WeTown provides a sustainable town for 40,000 residents in Abbotsford, Canada. The city is seeing a rise in technology sector with an urgent need to house millennium workers coming from the US and oversea. A new neighborhood, called WeTown, is planned to the west of the city to provide mixed-use spaces for live, work and play. The city and the developer will use Wetown to set a new sustainable benchmark for Canada and North America. 
 
The city of Abbotsford is 350km2 in size, but it is very spread out with 140,000 residents. The city has an international airport, but there is no large scale public transportation. People in average spend 40min in private vehicles to get from home to work. Wetown is 0.36km2 in size but aims to house 40,000 residents on site. The team uses compact city design to encourage people to walk more. WeTown provides an infinitive loop to connect 36 buildings with a total floor area of 1,287,255m2 in apartments, offices, and retails. The loop is an elevated walkway filled with greenery and activities. The goal is to make every journey from home to work in 8 minutes. 
 
Getting water, drainage and traffic to work for 40,000 people is a challenge. The team selectively expands certain roads for truck delivery, although the goal is to ultimately reduce vehicles in the city. Car sharing programs and underground parking will first be deployed for people who want a car-less life. 
 
Using rainwater collection, greywater recycling and various water reduction measures, the project will reduce its normal water consumption by 50%. Two large reservoirs are also planned on site. Working with the geometry of the towers, they served as a medium to regulate the micro-climate on site.
 
Wetown is a collective idea from people around the world. The design team conducted a global survey to see how people can improve their work-life balance. The global result was cross examined with local survey done in the city. The similarity includes efficient transportation, proximity to destination, better walkability, more affordable housing and more nature. The new qualities include better food options, more public art and better jobs. 
 
To respond to this collective survey, Wetown includes a large farmer’s market known as the Barn in the center of the site as a social and retail hub. Beside catering to Wetown workers and residents, the barn encourages farmers and small businesses to trade and connect with customers and government. Agriculture is still the biggest industry in Abbotsford. The project is to prove that new industry can bring life to older industry.  
 
Every 2 years, 3 to 5 towers will rise on site until 36 buildings are done in 10 phases. The aim is to balance work and live qualities in each phase. Using pre-fabricated modules with local materials, some of the buildings will begin as office and gradually transition into apartment. There will always be a balanced amount of people working and living in WeTown.
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