Population of Shenzhen is extremely young, average age is less than 30, and I rarely saw families with kids and almost no older adults. It is like US type university town, only of enormous proportion. So, what do those young people do when they are not at work?

Sport Venues

2 - sport venues

There are a great number of sport centers in Shenzhen and UPDIS had membership for its employees in couple of them. After work the planners and interns had a chance to go swimming, play badminton and soccer two to three nights a week. Huge stadiums and sport complexes can be found in different parts of the city. I spent more time exploring Boan Center, both images on the right, one of the weekends. It appears that a lot of opportunities are provided for both outdoor and indoor recreation. What surprised me the most is the availability of outdoor exercise equipment that can be used by anyone without a fee. I have not seen the likes of this anywhere in the world, but China. Here in Shenzhen it was not used as much, perhaps because it is very hot during summer months. I would be curious to see how it is used during cooler seasons. In Beijing, on the other hand, it is used a lot particularly by older adults. Shenzhen does not have an aging population as older Chinese cities and presence of very young population has its own effect on the urban environment. I have seen, for example, display of new even bigger complex – Shenzhen Bay Sports Center, to be built along with new commercial development in Nanshan District.


3 - parks

Parks are used for sports as well. When I went to see the Xinan Old Town, once out of the city gate on the other end, I decided to go further and see what lies beyond. I was pleasantly surprised, after getting myself through the extreme density of old multistory housing with retail at the ground; arriving at and finding myself under lash tree coverage. I realized I was in the local park and was curious to explore it. As appose to those huge parks that feel almost empty, this one was very different. It was filled with people, but not packed. Different activities could easily be accommodated at different areas. One area had billiard tables in c-shape arrangement near the ice-cream shop. In other, pairs of young men and women played badminton. Group of youngsters were trying to figure out how to get star fruit and some other type of fruit off the trees. Scattered around park benches, some in wide open spaces others in private secluded, had people setting and talking on them, sleeping, sawing, and reading. There were also areas where group can find round table and chairs to play cards or other games. If anyone would ask me to name an example of park that really worked as extension of residential community and for all ages – little kinds, teenagers, adults and retirees, I would say this is it.

Short video can be found at:



4 - retail-n-shopping images

Shopping, as far as I understood, is considered part of recreation and entertainment. Shenzeners are even willing to travel all the way to Hong Kong on the weekends, because it is considered one of the best shopping destinations. Shenzhen itself is not falling behind, although little visited by international tourists; it is a popular destination for Chinese domestic tourists. They are drawn to Shenzhen by its famous shopping centers, bars, restaurants and active art scene. Shopping environment varies great deal: from US type mega malls, IKEA, and Wall Mart also made their way in, to more traditional Chinese shopping streets. Since car driven environment starts to dominate and roads take priority a lot of activities seem to move below ground. There are literally street networks below connecting different destinations that you don’t even have to surface and can comfortably move via air-conditioned underground maze.

Short video can be found at:


Public spaces in Shenzhen are used in a number of ways: street vendors and snack stands are abundant, people do use streets, parks and other amenities city has to offer. The great part about snacks is that a lot of them are very healthy. To my delight, I observed kids carrying small meat balls or sausages on the stick instead of candies. The food is also freshly prepared and vegetables are substantial part of the diet.

Short video can be found at:


Additional set of slides for all three, sport venues, parks and shopping destinations, can be found at:



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