Hangzhou is one of the most dynamic cities in China. In 2019 alone, it registered 554 000 new long-term residents. To accompany this growth, the city is expanding in all directions. Until a few years ago, the northern part of the city was perhaps expanding less quickly. This is changing rapidly, along a development based on the Grand canal and on new activities. In the holistic strategy of Hangzhou, the North has to “build”.
Figure 1 杭州大城北规划展示馆
This « build » strategy notably relies on the Grand canal and other water channels, as well as on the industrial past on the area, to create a modern environment rooted in the past. Thanks to Friday’s event, we have been able to understand more about the history of the steel factory of the area, and how planning is used to regenerate the place, building on its legacy and creating a new future. The regeneration will also use the upcoming Asian Olympic Games as a catalyst.
I felt this strategy, which, on many aspects, follows international best practice standards, makes a lot of sense. It should definitely achieve results, thanks to Hangzhou’s dynamism and the assets of the area. However, particular attention should be given to avoid having a planning that would be too top-down. Projects which have the most success generally have a very thin planning, as projects which are too big often feel artificial. Involving residents and making sure that the fabric of the city remains organic will be key to the success of the project.
It was a fruitful and interesting day. Such joint activities provide space to expand one's knowledge and relationships. And even though all the provided information was in Chinese, the few presented maps as well as the site visit shortly after were enough to understand the idea and concept behind the reconversion of this industrial site.
Being knowledgeable about the Master Plan of Hangzhou, I find that the reconversion of this brownfield into a cultural park is a smart move. I certainly would like to stay posted about the work progress and be able to see the final results.