The Dongtan Plan: Comissioned by SIIC, and designed by ARUP. – Planned for a massive shift of people from rural areas to urban areas. – Transportation. Dongtan is a plan for a new eco-city on the island of Chongming in Shanghai, China. Arup, the British engineering consultancy firm, was contracted in by the developer, The Shanghai Industrial Investment Company (SIIC), to design . That they really saw Arup’s expensively produced Dongtan masterplan as a blueprint for a more sustainable future. They didn’t. Not when it.

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Why eco-cities fail

T hree years ago, I crossed the world to see it: Shanghai, one of the fastest growing megacities on the planet, was setting aside a giant island in the Yangtze river to create an donngtan for half a million people. British eco-engineers and green-minded architects and town planners were designing the renewably powered, car-free, water-recycling city of Dongtan as a model for the world. And its first 25, citizens would be living the good life there in time for ddongtan Shanghai World Expo inat which it would be by far the largest exhibit, reached by a new tunnel and bridge.

Well, it is now exactly a dongatn until the start of the Expo. The tunnel and bridge are about to open. But of the eco-city there is nothing except half a dozen wind turbines and an organic farm.


No houses, no water taxis, no sewage-recycling plant, no energy park. And all mentioned of it has disappeared from the Expo website slogan: This week, Peter Head, the man behind the project at the London-based consulting engineers Arup, who drew up the master plan, told me his clients at the city’s Shanghai Industrial Investment Company had “gone quiet.

We just don’t know if anything will happen or when. The project office is shut.

There is a persistent rumour that the project has been a casualty of the political fallout from the conviction of the city boss Chen Liangyu, jailed last year for corruption. Not so, says Head. The problems are more fundamental. There is a rule for everything. The dongatn of roads, everything. That is how they have developed so fast, by being totally prescriptive. We wanted to change the rules in Dongtan, to do everything different.

But when it comes to it, China cannot deliver that.

It’s a bit like greening the planet. Lots of grand promises, but in the end the old entrenched ways mean little happens. Greenwash, in other words. Shanghai milked the media well during the heyday of the planning. Searching for Dongtan on Google, there are aroundhits. Almost all of them are built on a fiction: That they really saw Arup’s expensively produced Dongtan masterplan as a blueprint for a more sustainable future.

Dongtan, Shanghai – Wikipedia

Not when it came to it. His deputy, John Prescott, went there twice. So did Britain’s top urban planner, Peter Hall, and the London mayor Ken Livingstone, who wanted ideas for greening his urban landscape. British academics carried out energy audits aimed at giving Dongtan’s future citizens an ecological footprint a quarter that of other Shanghai citizens. But they and Arup were hoodwinked as much as anyone. People like Head, arupp commitment to the project was total, could have been planning other things that might have ddongtan off the drawing board.

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Arup and Dongtan, worthy winner of Greenwasher of the year | Ethical Corporation

Their time was wasted. Dongtan is very significant for Shanghai and the nation.

Dongtan is a chance to develop new ways of living. Did he ever mean it? Is it all over? With the new bridge providing easy access to Shanghai’s Pudong business district, the island’s western end, where Dongtan was planned, will soon be taken over by high-rise, high-footprint apartments. The first are already under construction. We all wasted our time; burned carbon flying to Shanghai to relay a false prospectus to the world.

If I sound bitter, I am. This time, I was a personal victim of greenwash. Email your examples to greenwash theguardian.

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