Shanghai City Development

The West Bund area in the city center of Shanghai alongside the Huangpu River with its 9,4 sqkm and 11,4 km coast-line is the model region for how the Xuhui district government is going to create the most lively city (stated in the Shanghai master plan 2017-2035). Reality shows that besides all impressive goals and huge figures something more is needed to finally attract people to utilize such a “Global City” development.

How to build a perfect city with the risk that nobody is there

A lot has changed in China’s most developed city within the last decade. Besides the unbelievable economic success with growing welfare, aspects like work-life balance have at least for the upper classes replaced the mere work and profit orientation.

The West Bund project aims as an answer to offer an extraordinary high standard of living in combination with world class economic facilities to continue and stabilize the ongoing success story.

This means creating a totally new urban area (of course on different levels, as space is usually a bottleneck for the city) with impressive goals like

  • Leading international business and commercial area
  • Offering global economic hotspots like the world’s first AI (Artificial Intelligence) center
  • A financial district as the core
  • A high quality CAZ (Central Activity Zone) embodying creation, innovation, culture and other core functions
  • One of the most culturally dense zones in the world and the largest theatre cluster in Asia with at least 6 newly built theatres (offering more than 10.000 seats) or a minimum of 20 cultural sites like a museum mile with different museums or various festivals (called ART West Bund)
  • High class sports facilities like a running-track along the coastline or climbing walls, a skate park and basketball courts

But the most impressive aspect is the unbelievable speed with which these goals are going to be realized. After the start in 2017 the sports facilities are already there and the whole ART West Bund is planned to be realized by 2020 (projects which in our European world would take at least one decade’s time).

West Bund Project Model (all levels)

But how to attract people to live there?

But a well guided tour covering some of the central parts of the area showed one of the main challenges of the project. On a normal (working-day) afternoon with pleasant weather almost nobody was seen using the facilities and also most of the new buildings seemed to be uninhabited.

This is certainly a bit surprising in a 23 million-people global metropolis with overcrowded places in the poorer traditional parts of the inner-city and seems to be the biggest challenge for the project: how to attract people and/or offer affordable conditions to really make the “Global City” a popular and enlivened part of Shanghai.

Empty sports facilities…
…and empty recreation places.

 

Blog by Günter Kradischnig

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