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  • Home > News > Details
    Making cities attractive again

    I watched over the last ten years as the smog has made its permanent home in the Pearl River Delta of Guangdong. Initially I used to see up to maybe 250 days of sunshine a year but these days it is at least that many days with heavy smog or an overcast sky. At the same time, Guangdong's famously fertile land resources have been desecrated with autobahns, factory buildings, high rises, debris, parking lots. It no longer is attractive. The whole stretch from Shenzhen through to Zhaoqing is one blighted spot.

    What can be done?

    Someone mentioned recycling. That is something the Chinese have practiced for a long time. It could hardly get any better. In fact the Chinese recyclers have been buying recyclables from the West and turn it into new products. So far so good.

    Energy consumption: That is a sore area! The buildings here generally lack insulation, double-glazed windows, energy-efficient heaters and coolers. The Chinese have an obsession with saving money. That is why the quality of houses invariably is poor. Houses are built to last until someone knocks them down - usually during a period of 25 or a little more years. That is no incentive to invest in better quality housing.


    Cities are now built to drive, not to live in. They have to be motorist-orientated. They have become pedestrian-hostile. It is no pleasure walking in any Chinese city. Pedestrians are the losers anywhere, motorists are the winners. This needs a big change in the mentality of locals! I don't think it is a good idea to force pedestrians to use underpasses or overpasses so that cars can travel unhindered. In the underpasses you get lost. They are time-consuming. And they get locked down during the night. Why? Another Chinese speciality - underpasses are shopping areas. Shops only open when there are numbers of people. They close in the evening. Pedestrians then have to cross the roads in utter darkness on foot. What a perverted way of addressing pedestrian and motorist needs!

    And do people really need to drive around in their own cars? We don't in Europe. Europeans have cars, yes, but most rely on public transport for their commutes. China seems to follow the U.S. way. A blind alley, as we all know!

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