Will The Dongtan Development in China Be The World's First Eco-City?


China, as we have reported recently, is making serious commitments to stemming the environmental damage being caused by their explosive industial revolution. One of the biggest ecological projects taking place in China is that of Dongtan. Last year the British engineering company Arup unveiled it’s proposal to develop Dongtan as the world’s first eco-city on Chongmin Island off Shanghai. Arup is developing their masterplan in partnership with the Shanghai Industrial Investment Corporation (SIIC), which is committing billions to the project. The first phase is scheduled to be finished by 2010 in time for Shanghai’s World Expo. This week the excellent BBC 4 radio environmental series, Costing The Earth, reports from London and China on the progress of the Dongtan project. The programme discusses various aspects of this hugely ambitious build including the need to preserve one of China’s last untouched natural habitats. The island is home to some amazing wildlife and is especially well known for its bird breeding site at the southern tip. The Dongtan project also provides fantastic opportunities to test and develop new environmental technologies, like fuel cell cars. The idea is that the city should be an eco-showcase for others to witness and learn from. The particularly urgent dilemma in China is that while ideally an area like Chongmin should be left untouched and kept as a nature reserve, the practicalities and pressure of social and industrial development in China will not allow for this. (‘400 cities the size of Bristol in the next 20 years. 300 000 000 people moving from countryside to city over next 20 years’) Therefore the challenge is to accommodate the huge influx of workers to urban areas without destroying the environment in the process. Another pertinent question posed by Costing the Earth is, even if the Arup masterplan succeeds in all it’s aims, will Dongtan will be a new city where people will want to live and work? Brasilia is used as one example of many previous utopian city masterplans that did not work in practice. After all the theories, technologies, social strategies and conservation projects will Dongtan be an eco-city with heart and soul? via: BBC Radio 4 ::Arup