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 expertise in sustainable architecture, urban planning and renewable energy management, Arup expects Dongtan to be self-sufficient in energy. By building on wind and solar power generation, making hybrid vehicles the main mode of transportation and encouraging farmers to practice organic farming, Dongtan should 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 China's frenetic urban growth by taking into account economic, social and environmental principles to reduce impacts on nature, and 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?
China's growing involvement in sustainable development is above all a necessity. Indeed, as noted by Peter Head in "The Observer": "An industrial revolution, on the pattern experienced by Great Britain 200 years ago, is unsustainable for China and the Chinese have understood. They can see the social-economic problems generated by very high growth rates, and they realize that they will have to go beyond them. "
Thus Dongtan district will serve as a basis for future projects. In November 2005, during the visit of the Chinese President Hu Jintao to the English Prime Minister Tony Blair, new contracts were signed between the Chinese authorities and the company Arup for the construction of two other future eco-cities whose sites of implantation have not been defined yet. Clearly, with these eco-cities self-sufficient in energy and food, and whose goal is zero emissions of greenhouse gases in transportation, China seems to have found one way to reconcile economic growth and population growth in a sustainable perspective. For Peter Head: "It's 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. "