November 15, 2011

Our Cities Ourselves opens with a bang in China!

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The Our Cities Ourselves program launched with a bang, literally, on Friday, October 11th, when the guests at the opening ceremony cracked open massive party poppers and littered the room with confetti to mark the official launch.

Lu Xueyi, Vice Director of GMEDRI, Eddie Tsui Director of AECOM Guangdong, and Wang Yingchi, Division Head within GZPI, joined Karl Fjellstrom, Director of ITDP China, each giving short speeches to the collected media, architects and urban planning professionals who attended the event prior to the opening.

After viewing the exhibition, a roundtable discussion was held in the dramatic, inspirational and impressive upstairs lobby in the award winning Zaha Hadid Opera House.

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Manying Hu, Project Coordinator – ITDP China, introduced the discussion around the Our Cities Ourselves Principles for Transport in Urban Life, which highlighted good practice case studies, as well as the challenges and opportunities for implementation in China.

Liu Hong Zhi, Managing Director of AECOM China, presented statistics that exemplified the challenges China faces in the future, including population and traffic growth rates, which will put immense pressure on infrastructure and natural resources. He also showed how rising incomes and expectations associated with this rapid growth offer an opportunity to design more livable cities. Mr. Liu closed his 30 minute presentation with a round-up of case studies of AECOM’s work in China and beyond, that show development along the OCO Principles are already being implemented.

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Tat Lam from Urbanus followed Mr. Liu’s presentation and introduced the Ren Ming Road project which was on show in the exhibition outside, and also suggested that the current elevated highway which carries traffic along the historic Ren Ming Road should be converted into a greenway. Mr. Lam then outlined the many opportunities and case studies of moving from COD (Car Orientated Design) to TOD (Transit Orientated Development), that are already being planned and developed in cities in the Pearl River Delta.

Finally, Michael Sorkin presented the New York rendering, which suggests a greening of the area around the Brooklyn Bridge. Professor Sorkin then outlined the principles which design should follow and wowed the audience with his vision of a greener, people-orientated city of the future.

The following discussion was animated, and continued well past the allotted time as many people wanting to voice their opinion. The Ren Ming Road project has been in the news in Guangzhou, and some in the audience challenged the Urbanus rendering, asking if tearing down the elevated highway rather than turning it into a Greenway would not be a better option.

The event was completed with a wine and cocktail party as guests continued the conversations in the more relaxed setting in amongst the OCO renderings.

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