WORLD experts in urban planning, green traffic, the environment, and waterfront views have come up with a slew of specific recommendations to make Zhuhai as habitable as European and American cities.
This was done at the Liveability Comparison Between Zhuhai and EU-US Countries two-day seminar at the Zhuhai Holiday Resort Hotel last weekend. The focus, after the experts toured several sites, was on further creating a resource-effective, environmentally friendly and population-balanced society.
Li Jia, a member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Provincial Committee and secretary of the Municipal CPC Committee, expressed appreciation for their guidance and support concerning urban planning, construction and administration over the years.
Zhuhai has maintained a favourable environment while rapidly developing its economy. It is one of the PRD cities with the best environment, lowest-intensity land development, fewest low-end industrial clusters and best-balanced population intensity and quality. All these have laid a solid groundwork for becoming a habitable city rivalling those in Europe and America. Nevertheless, Zhuhai still does not match those advanced areas. Therefore, it was of great significance to invite the experts and professionals to find solutions for Zhuhai, Li Jia noted.
Stay on track
Li Xiaojiang, president of the China Academy of Urban Planning & Design, advised that Zhuhai needs to follow its ecological, environmentally friendly and habitable development track. It also should pay more attention to high-end equipment manufacturing, service and emerging industries and characteristic agriculture.
He noted that Hengqin development must interact with Macao and reserve as many land resources and chances as possible for the SAR. The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge will promote Zhuhai to a transport hub and create a unique world-level city with ocean and river views between Zhuhai and Macao.
The top priority for Zhuhai is to build a highly effective, rapid-transport system to link remote western areas in terms of light rail, streetcar, mass rapid transit (MRT) or bus rapid transit (BRT) lanes, he said.
Zhuhai should learn in-depth from Europe and America in regard to low-carbon transport patterns, architectural energy conservation, garbage treatment and recycling, the second and third-time utilisation of water resources, and so on, he stated.
Protect the mountains
Well-known Japanese landscape designer Yoshiki Toda, after having surveyed Lovers Avenue and the Mangrove Nature Reserve, suggested that Zhuhai protect the fluctuant shape and skyline of the mountains or otherwise the pleasure arising from nature will be weakened. The city’s development trend should go towards habitability and holiday resort, he advised.
The design for Lovers Avenue should create more space for privacy; for example, a net-like road system in which pedestrians can see rest places ahead or tales of good wishes should be added to the avenue, he proposed.
Meanwhile, sites and halls should be provided in dwelling space to allow people to go to concerts or art exhibitions or to communicate, he said.
He Jingtang, prominent Chinese architect and professor and dean of the South China University of Technology School of Architecture, suggested that Zhuhai carry on its environment-first concept. The city should highlight the Lingnan cultural elements in architectural planning based on its geographical resources and regional cultural characteristics.
Zhuhai should also continue to protect its natural and primitive quality with strictly controlled architectural altitude and low-intensity and low-density housing development in the neighbourhood of mountains, he said.
Have long-time plan
Liu Taige (Liu Thai Ker), who has been called "Father of World City Planning" and is chair of the Singapore Arts Council, suggested that a long-term urban plan for post-2030 should be worked out. Singapore, he pointed out, has charted a 100-year urban plan. Moreover, a plan for population over the following decades should be made in case Zhuhai will grow into a big city in 30 to 40 years.
Not only this, urban planning should never be replaced by architectural wonders. A city is characterised by its natural environment and historical sites, he stressed.
Preston Scott Cohen, chair of the Department of Architecture at Harvard, said all picturesque cities share a spacious open space, usually city parks, and very intimate small streets -- a sharp and interesting contrast. These are the "big" and "small" measures placed under control.
Zhuhai boasts a long coastline that is more than enough to arouse interest of people, but there is no trace of any urban planning using this "intimate measure". Zhuhai might lose the chance by over developing its coastlines, he warned.
Zhang Tingwei, tenured professor at the School of Urban Planning & Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago, suggested Zhuhai protect water quality if it develops waterfront resources. At the same time, Zhuhai should focus on upgrading of some key sites such as the Fisher Maiden statue and Lovers Avenue. Furthermore, the plan should be sustainable with authority of law so as to maintain its unique style, he concluded.
More small streets
Calthorpe Associates senior associate John Beutler pointed out that the key to urban traffic congestion is to build an urban network of more close-jointed small streets rather than widening a few trunk roads. He insisted that walking and bicycling blocks and communities be built in favour of non-motor vehicle transport.
Cui Kai, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and vice president and chief architect of the China Architecture Design & Research Group, suggested that Zhuhai’s architecture better match the environment such as the sea, mountain and landscape. For example, light colours closer to the green environment rather than over-showy colours and more curves suggesting romantic feelings should be adopted in architecture.
An outstanding landmark building should be user friendly, the best in quality, expressive in human ideals and the most pleasant. It must contain both function and public nature. He suggested that Zhuhai also allocate landmark buildings properly to make them blend with surroundings and drive neighbouring space and economic development.
Sun Anjun, director general of the Department of Urban-Rural Planning of the Ministry of Housing & Urban-Rural Development, said citizen participation in environment construction should be more humanised. Urban safety system featuring integrated disaster-prevention is another key issue Zhuhai should focus on, he proposed.
Ma Xiangming, chief planner of the Guangdong Urban-Rural Planning & Design Institute, proposed that transport should be removed from Lovers Avenue and that cafes, wedding gown photography stores and related boutiques be set up along the sea to highlight the sense of romance.
Song Jinsong, vice president of the Guangdong Urban-Rural Planning & Design Institute, suggested Zhuhai expand its superiorities in preferential policies, location, transport and system so as to make it a regional centre and a happiness-oriented international coastal city.
Gu Zhengjiang, chief planner of Peking University (Shenzhen) Planning & Design Research Centre, pointed out that Zhuhai should borrow experience from foreign advanced cities. It should seek development strategies fitting its practical situation in terms of eco-economy, green transportation, economic growth with urban development border, urban public space, diversified urban features, urban-rural integration as well as public participation.
Dan Ringelstein, director of Urban Design and Planning at Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM), suggested Zhuhai combine its natural landscape with its urban construction and cherish this precious historical legacy.
Ouyang Zhiyun, vice director of the Research Centre for Eco-environmental Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, proposed that Zhuhai further improve urban environment by exploring ways to construct low-carbon communities.
Also participating were Tang Kai, chief planner of the Ministry of Housing & Urban-Rural Development; Fang Qingfang, director of the Department of Urban-Rural Planning of the Ministry of Housing & Urban-Rural Development; Wu Jianping, vice president, and Cai Ying, vice director of the Urban Planning Society of China; Mayor He Ningka and officials of related government departments, districts, industrial parks, towns and sub-districts, board chairpersons of SOEs and others.