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Update – Green Cities in China update on

Posted in Models, Movements, Research, Visions by fedwards on August 31st, 2007

water drop

The article, “China Eco-Cities Update” by Mara Hvistendahl published on, August 22, investigates the progress on the development of eco-cities in China. This topic which has been very heavily publicised in previous reports now seems to be receiving criticism. Read the introduction to Hvistendahl’s article below and visit the full report at

“In 2005, green architect William McDonough and British engineering firm Arup separately announced plans to build ambitious eco-cities housing up to 500,000 inhabitants on the mainland. For a few months following these announcements, coverage was enthusiastic (we have written about these cities a number of times, with early articles here and here). Much of this coverage was deserved. Designers are, after all, devising solutions to what promises to be one of the largest rural-to-urban migrations in history.

But in recent months, journalists have begun to look at how these cities are shaping up. After publishing a glowing article on McDonough’s designs for sustainable Chinese cities in 2005, Newsweek ran an article this May that reads like a retraction. Its assessment of Huangbaiyu, the model village in McDonough’s program and the first in a series of seven planned eco-cities, is bleak:

The project appears to be a mess. Construction of the 400 houses is way behind schedule. The 42 that have been built still have no heat, electricity or running water. Walls are already cracking and moisture seeps through the ceilings. According to people who’ve worked on the project, many of the houses don’t adhere to the original specifications—meaning they could never achieve the energy savings they were meant to achieve. The biomass gasification facility meant to burn animal, human and agricultural waste, doesn’t work. Not surprisingly, no one in the village has volunteered to move into the new community.
Last month, Popular Science published a feature that casts similar doubts on the prospects for China’s eco-cities.”

Visit the full article at

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