Blue network, green artery, orange circle – a city we're longing for

Yang Jian
Putuo District has set out a new urban renewal blueprint to further improve the living standards of the area.
Yang Jian
Blue network, green artery, orange circle – a city were longing for
Ti Gong

Putuo District has set out a new urban renewal blueprint to further improve the living standards of the area.

The northwest downtown district has penciled in an upgrade of its waterways and riverside regions a plan to create additional parks and increase safety standards in old residential communities and improve its roads.

The district government released a five-year action plan with specific timelines to develop a friendly ecological system, improve public services and feature attractions along Suzhou Creek and Taopu River.

Director of Putuo, Jiang Dongdong, says the action plan marks the beginning of an urban redevelopment campaign in the area.

“The district will focus on the blue networks, green arteries, orange circles and a comfortable living environment with beautiful roads,” Jiang said at the blueprint launch. “We shall let the city keep its memory, while creating values with an urban renewal campaign.”

Jiang promised to respect and protect all historical buildings along Suzhou Creek.

In the first decade of the 20th century, Chinese entrepreneurs built national industries, including textiles, flour, beer, minting, printing and clothing, along a zigzag section of the creek, known as the “18 bays.”

Converting them for modern use has preserved many of these former factory clusters. The popular M50 art hub, which opened in 2000, and the 2-year-old X Tower park are two examples of a modern concept being integrated into a former factory with industrial heritage.

The “blue network” plan focuses on the riverside region along the creek, Taopu River and other waterways running across the district.

Paths will be developed alongside the rivers with improved water quality and renovated water gates. By 2025, Putuo will have 70 waterways and 30 lakes and ponds. The water area of the district will be increased to 2.5 square kilometers from the current 2 square kilometers.

The “green artery” plan will develop 750,000 square meters of new greenery, making the per capita green area stretch 6 square meters in Putuo. The district will improve street greenery quality, build additional parks and greenbelts and improve exiting parks.

Construction has already started on the additional part of the Taopu Central Greenbelt, the largest downtown public greenbelt in Shanghai. It will cover a million square meters upon its completion. A trial operation has seen part of the site opened, covering half of the planned size, featuring a natural landscape and its long industrial heritage.

The design of the green area is inspired by Hyde Park in London and Central Park in New York. The park theme, “Floating Clouds and Water,” incorporates traditional Chinese cultural ideas, such as painting, calligraphy, dance and tai chi.

Standing on top of the greenbelt’s artificial hill, regarded as the second-tallest hill in Shanghai’s western downtown, visitors can see the former site of the city’s once popular “peony ink” factory, a soap factory, a paint plant and the famous White Elephant battery factory.

The city’s earliest rubber plant on Dunhuang Road is to be converted into a visitor center for the site, while a statue of Chairman Mao at the former factory has been preserved.

Visitors can also find some historical sites on or near the greenbelt.

Not far from the initial phase of the project, Hanta Pagoda, originating from the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), has been well-preserved.

Historical texts reveal general Han Shizhong (1090-1151), who devoted his life to fighting invaders, once trained soldiers beside the pagoda.

As a major attraction, a 3D-printed bridge has been put in place over a river in the greenbelt. A giant 3D printer made the 15-meter S-shaped bridge in 35 days.

The “orange circle” plan aims to develop a 15-minute community life circle for each Putuo inhabitant and additional grassroots public service facilities will be built in local neighborhoods.

The district government also plans to improve living conditions in old local communities.

Under the community improvement program, 10 pledges have been released to screen safety risks, repair old houses, renovate apartments without a private kitchen or toilet, demolish illegal structures, build elevators and enhance the property management services.

The “beautiful roads” plan includes burying 248 kilometers of overhead cables underground and improving the image of 225 major roads in Putuo, stretching 226 kilometers.

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