China: Chinese eco-cities

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First eco-cities in China

Faced with the problems caused by the consequences of strong growth, pollution and strong growth in energy demand, the Chinese authorities appear to have been seduced by their visit in February 2005, the eco-village Bedzed. The joint venture Shanghai Industrial Investment Corporation (SIIC) has a contract worth billions of dollars with the British company Arup Consulting in engineering to build the first eco-city in the world.

Becoming the first eco-city in the world, the future area of ​​Dongtan aims to demonstrate that it is possible to combine dynamism and respect for the environment. With an area representing 3 / 4 of Manhattan, close to Shanghai on Chongming Island, in the estuary of the Yangtze Kiang River, it could pave the way for sustainable urban development, in China as elsewhere . This project is important because Chongming Island, made up of former marshes, is a nature reserve which is home to fauna and flora marine and terrestrial exceptional. Many species protected in China live there, making this island a place with a very rich biodiversity.

With its skills in sustainable architecture, urban planning and renewable energy management, Arup is planning Dongtan to be self-sufficient in energy. By using wind and solar power, making hybrid vehicles the main mode of transportation and encouraging farmers to practice organic farming, Dongtan should become a model for the city of tomorrow. In an article in The Observer published in January 2006, Peter Head, director of Arup, said: "Dongtan will mark a turning point in China's frenetic urban growth, taking into account economic, social and environmental principles to reduce the impacts on nature, and will provide a model for the future development of China and East Asia. It will be a first sustainable post-industrial city of high quality. "

The first houses to 50 000 people should be built by 2010, when Shanghai will host the World Expo. Dongtan should welcome 500 000 2040 in. This area is designed as a prototype urban life, with jobs in high technology and high-tech industries, recreational structures, and that the smallest details such as accessibility to the banks or the orientation of homes relative to Sun. Suffice to say that the project is ambitious because it aims a double challenge: not only be the prototype of a sustainable urban lifestyle but also a dynamic economic area, a magnet for investment funds that participate in Chinese growth.

China trailblazer for cities of the future?

The growing involvement of China in sustainable development is above all a necessity. Indeed, as pointed out by Peter Head in "The Observer": "An industrial revolution, on the pattern that Britain experienced 200 years ago, is unsustainable for China and the Chinese have understood. They can see the social-economic problems engendered by very high growth rates, and they realize they will have to go beyond them. "

Thus the Dongtan district will serve as a basis for future projects. In November 2005, during the visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, new contracts were signed between the Chinese authorities and Arup for the construction of two other eco-cities, have not yet been defined. Clearly, with these eco-cities self-sufficient in energy and food and with zero greenhouse gas emissions in transport, China seems to have found one of the means to reconcile economic growth with population growth in a sustainable perspective. For Peter Head: "This is not a gadget. This is followed at the highest levels of the Chinese government. They are very involved in the development of this new economic paradigm. "

Christophe Brunella, Novethic

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