China has embarked on a bold, expensive experiment to see whether pollution and waste”of all forms, not just the kind that taints the air”can be drastically reduced or even eliminated. In March it broke ground on what it calls the world’s first eco-city. Designed by the London-based global consulting firm Arup Group, Dongtan (as the new city will be called) is to be built on an island that is just a ferry ride away from central Shanghai. The government expects that by the time of the Expo this new enclave will be a showcase city of 8000 and that it will have half a million residents by 2050.
Dongtan will ban all polluting cars, even the most advanced hybrids. It will dig canals for waterways. On its streets, people will get around using electric cars, bicycles, or just their legs. “Cities today are built around the automobile,” says Malcolm Smith, an urban-design team leader at Arup. “You build a very different type of city if you know the automobile isn’t the central form of transportation.” [Full text]
See also “Eco-city Now!” which shows how Dongtan could be a model for future city planning. Read also a profile of the architect who created the plans for Dongtan. Listen also to a podcast about the Dongtan project from Ethical Corporation (via Virtual China), which calls it a “a badly concieved showcase project.”