LIU Taige (Liu Thai Ker), the Father of World City Planning, was hired by the city as chief advisor of urban planning strategy at the Zhuhai Holiday Resort Hotel last Sunday. The municipal government also signed a strategic partnership agreement with Liu’s team.
Noted for his influence on Singapore’s urban landscape as head of the Housing Development Board (HDB) and Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), Liu also held distinguished positions in the field of local arts, urban planning and architecture. Chair of the Singapore Arts Council, he also served as a planning advisor to municipal governments in China and was given an honourary Citizen of Fuzhou Award for his contributions.
A strategic advisor on urban and rural planning and construction, Liu will help guide and participate in strategic, overall urban and transportation planning. He also will be involved in urban renovation, industrial parks, seaports and wharves, housing, marine and island planning, and give ideas for specific construction projects.
Li Jia, a member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Provincial Committee and secretary of the CPC Municipal Committee, said he hoped Liu would bring in Singapore’s advanced experience in related areas. He expects Liu and his team to chart a blueprint until 2050 in terms of Zhuhai’s natural qualities, history, location and positioning for future development. He also wants the team to formulate plans for green transport, sea and island development and other areas.
At the Great Hall of Zhuhai last Monday, Liu lectured about what Zhuhai should learn from Singapore in urban planning.
It is a great achievement that Singapore reached a high-level habitability index despite a high-density population, and this should encourage Zhuhai, Liu pointed out. A city requires both landmark buildings and such background as historical sites and landscapes, he noted.
There are no homeless people in today’s Singapore, where 93 percent of residents own their homes, the highest percentage in the world. The government encourages citizens to have their own apartments and hopes all housing problems will be solved in 25 years. Likewise, Zhuhai can move residents from old dwellings into habitable public housing communities, he suggested.
The express roads must not be intersected, and crossings must be achieved through flyovers. Additionally, although the main objective of the transport system is to deliver passengers, it is also important to provide views of hills, bodies of water and picturesque landscape along the way. Transport should not be taken solely as a means of traffic; it is life along the way and a part of life, Liu stated.
Meanwhile, Zhuhai needs a modern central business district, Liu asserted. How big the CBD should be, what relationship it should have with other functional areas, and relationships between population density, the economy and ecological environment must be made clear. Liu recalled that in 2005, he put forth a long-term plan for a population of 4 million, and he hoped to draw the East and West wings closer in terms of throughway, subway and other approaches. He made a plan based on a satellite town pattern, in which a number of towns form a section and a number of sections create a city with a central business district. He also planned subways and throughways for the sections.
Liu and his team have created a perfect illusion or vision of much greenery, open space and small density in urban Singapore. The key is to overlap the high- and low-density areas with rhythmic changes. With diversity of capacity ratio and green space, the environmental areas are dispersed to various key sectors rather than in a centralised park. Zhuhai has much better congenital conditions than Singapore, and therefore the “three illusions” can be achieved. “I think Zhuhai can do better,” Liu said.
Not only this, but industrial zones or business centres need human-oriented services. Nevertheless, in some cities, large sections are deployed as industrial parks with residences more than 10km away, which causes stressful commutes. Separation of large-area pure-industry and pure-residence zones is unreasonable – they must be closer together. Therefore, it is energy-effective to shorten the distance so that one can walk or bicycle between the workplace and home, he pointed out.
It is impossible to walk from one cluster to another in Zhuhai due to the hills in between, but it is feasible to walk inside the clusters.
“I think Zhuhai should not only maintain its superiority, but also carry it out in planning new towns,” Liu said.
Li Qing, chief designer of the municipal Housing, Urban-Rural Planning and Development Bureau, responded that Liu has illustrated a core issue of urban planning, which is a rhythm of the buildings and landscape in high and low areas. Zhuhai is considering issuing technical indicators to regulate plot ratio and architectural density and establishing an urban design committee to coordinate all the indicators, he revealed.
In the meantime, the vice director of the bureau called Singapore’s experiences revealing for Zhuhai. Making use of the advanced experiences, Zhuhai will make careful plans for low-income housing and locate public residential communities for convenience, he noted.
Yan Hong, Free Trade Zone CPC secretary and Administrative Committee director, agreed with Liu’s ideas. He said he would use them to develop the zone’s second-phase project with functional zones closer to living quarters. Then employees can enjoy convenience. It also will help in green traffic and energy efficiency, he pointed out.