China: Chinese eco-cities

First eco-cities in China

Confronted with the problems caused by the consequences of their strong growth, pollution and strong increase in energy demand, the Chinese authorities seem to have been seduced by their visit, in February 2005, to the Bedzed eco-village. Joint venture Shanghai Industrial Investment Corporation (SIIC) has signed a multi-billion dollar contract with British engineering consulting firm Arup to build the world's first eco-city.

By becoming the first eco-city in the world, the future district 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, located near Shanghai on Chongming Island, at the estuary of the Yang Tse Kiang River, it could pave the way for sustainable urban development, in China as elsewhere. . This project is important since the island of Chongming, made of old marshes, is a nature reserve which shelters an exceptional marine and terrestrial fauna and flora. Many protected species in China live there, making this island a place of very rich biodiversity.

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With its skills in sustainable architecture, urban planning and management of renewable energies, the company Arup expects Dongtan to be self-sufficient in energy. By relying on wind and solar power generation, making hybrid vehicles the main mode of transport and encouraging farmers to practice organic farming, Dongtan is expected to become a model of 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 the frenetic urban growth of China 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 high-quality sustainable post-industrial city. "

The first homes for 50 people should be built by 000, when Shanghai will host the World Expo. Dongtan should accommodate 2010 in 500. This district is designed as a prototype of urban life, with jobs in high technologies and cutting-edge industries, leisure facilities, and this in great detail such as accessibility to the banks. or the orientation of houses in relation to the sun. Suffice to say that the project is ambitious since it aims at a double stake: not only to be the prototype of a sustainable urban way of life but also a dynamic economic space, a magnet for investment funds that will participate in Chinese growth.

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China pioneering for cities of the future?

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

Thus the Dongtan district will serve as a base 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 the Arup company for the construction of two other future eco-cities including the sites of implantation have not yet been defined. Obviously, with these eco-cities that are self-sufficient in energy and food, and whose objective is zero greenhouse gas emissions in transport, China seems to have found a way to reconcile economic growth and population growth. in a sustainable perspective. For Peter Head: “It's not a gimmick. This is monitored at the highest levels of the Chinese government. They are very involved in the development of this new economic paradigm. "

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Christophe Brunella, Novethic

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