2010 Shanghai Expo: Harmony in City and Nature?

As discussed in the last narrative entry, despite I have a different interpretation on the theme “Better City, Better Life” with the authors, I do agree that bring balance and harmony to the different aspects of a city would be the ultimate goal of the redevelopment. The World Expo Park is a great example of the government’s effort in pushing for such harmony between city development and nature, and the idea of “green city” equals “better city” is often the underlying idea behind all these planning [1].
Despite how the planners emphasized that what they meant by “green city” is beyond the size of area covered by green, but to promote the idea of environmental protection in the construction and design, minimizing the harm to environment created and changing people’s habit through their design [2], I couldn’t help but feel like most of their attempts at incorporating “green” concepts to their design of the park stayed rather representative and surface-level, such as planting trees, creating landscape and bringing water in[3]. I doubt how much would the design of the park overall invoke greener actions from the people in long run other than being a nice place for them to rest. It may be able to encourage interaction and hence create a better community, but I am not so sure about its effectiveness in bringing harmony between city and nature.
In fact, quite a number of sources that I came across has pointed out that the “going green” aspect of Shanghai Expo was more of loud words from the government, but they didn’t really do much in educating the people [4] [5]. On one hand, I understand and in fact I would argue that the World Expo Park case have in a sense already showed the maximum extent of influence an architect or urban planner can have on the issue, because in the end it has more to do with educating people than to merely changing their behaviour on surface level. However, on the other hand, I would question if these kind of “green architecture” that are built in the name of promoting environmental friendliness are in fact counter-productive.
Regardless of the good intentions, any construction has a cost on our environment. In a way there was never the so-called harmony between city and nature, because nature has always been there, and by inserting urban, we are invading nature. It’s not so much as bring harmony than to test the limit and not cross the line. Sure, green space is needed for a healthy city, but that is another question, my problem with these “green projects” is that they took the name of green. Not only I think they don’t do much towards the problem itself, they may easily become a feel-good excuse by the government or developers because they feel like they have already done their part. And that is not necessarily just a question I posed for the 2010 Shanghai Expo, but a trend that we can still see around the world nowadays, almost a decade later.

[1] Lang Zhang, Niek Roozen, Jun Dai, and Xuejun Ding, “创造·展示和谐城市——上海世博公园实施方案解析 – CREATING AND DEMONSTRATING A HARMONIOUS CITY: IMPLEMENTATION SCHEME ANALYSIS OF 2010 WORLD EXPO PARK,” 城市规划 31, no. 1 (2007): 80.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid, 81.
[4] David Barboza, “Shanghai Buys Itself A Makeover Before a Fair,” New York Times (1923-Current File) (New York, N.Y.), 2009.
[5] Mabel Sieh, Heidi Yung, Diana Lin, and Television Broadcasts Limited, Public Affairs Department, In the Name of Expo [electronic Resource], Pearl Report; [2009-0503], 2009.

Barboza, David. “Shanghai Buys Itself A Makeover Before a Fair.” New York Times (1923-Current File) (New York, N.Y.), 2009.
Sieh, Mabel., Heidi. Yung, Diana. Lin, and Television Broadcasts Limited. Public Affairs Department. In the Name of Expo [electronic Resource]. Pearl Report; [2009-0503]. 2009.
Zhang, Lang, Niek Roozen, Jun Dai, and Xuejun Ding. “创造·展示和谐城市——上海世博公园实施方案解析 – CREATING AND DEMONSTRATING A HARMONIOUS CITY: IMPLEMENTATION SCHEME ANALYSIS OF 2010 WORLD EXPO PARK.” 城市规划 31, no. 1 (2007): 79-82.

1 Comment on “2010 Shanghai Expo: Harmony in City and Nature?

  1. China has been growing rapidly as it becomes a global manufacturing hub, yet, its environment has been degrading rapidly and immensely ever since. Shanghai’s Huangpu River has also been suffering from industrial pollution. As urbanization is a global trend that is particularly happening in China, the Expo thus becomes an exemplar for China to showcase what can happen in the future. However, it is unlikely that such environmentally friendly building techniques can be used ubiquitously across China or around the world. Thus, whether this is just a publicity stunt to garner world attention and showcase China’s might or futuristic concepts that can be used remains to be seen.

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