It was a whirlwind of a first day at UPDIS (Urban Planning and Design Institute of Shenzhen). After some necessary protocol, i.e. accommodations, lunch, office tour, I was scooped into a meeting for the LingNi Peninsula Conceptual Planning project, one of two projects I will work on this summer. UPDIS recently beat out the competition and was selected to develop the plan for the LingNi Peninsula, a new island extension of the city of Wenzhou. At lunch my supervisor, Chen Wei, said that over the past three years UPDIS has transitioned from solely doing projects for the city of Shenzhen towards operating like a private firm and acting as a consultant for multiple municipalities throughout China.
The city of Wenzhou is a wealthy costal city in the Zheziang province area of China, about a 1,000km north of Shenzhen. The city is planning on filling in space between two existing small islands off the coast of Wenzhou (shown in white) in order to create more space for high tech businesses, residential homes, light industry and cultural attractions.
A French co-worker explained to me how UPDIS is very interested in the perspectives of the foreigners they have on staff (a total of two). The only parallel endeavor I am familiar with is the construction of Île Notre-Dame, part of Parc Jean Drapeau in Montreal, Quebec. Where in 1965 excess dirt from the construction of the city’s Metro was used to create a recreational island park in the middle of the St. Laurent River.
In Wenzhou the southern existing island had a 300m high mountain the team had incorporated into their design schemes as protected natural space. On their most recent visit to the site they discovered the city has already cut into the mountain and is using the dirt to start building the new island city. The LingNi Peninsula is expected to be built by 2020, be 130 square kilometers, and be home to 1 million people.