A Birds eye view of teh Yongsan International Business District masterplan

A Bird's eye view of the Yongsan International Business District masterplan

A few weeks ago it was announced that Daniel Libeskind (the architect who won the masterplan competition for the 9/11 site in New York City) won the masterplan competition for a 57 hectare riverside site in Seoul, South Korea. It is aiming to be a center of international business is Seoul, and so is called the ‘dream hub’ The developers will start US$20  billion project  in 2011 and  complete the 3+ million m2 of space by 2024. The developers wanted one landmark skyscraper (640m) and 11 other commercial buildings (between 20-70  floors) and a further 7 residential/commercial buildings  (20-50 stories).

The main concept is:  The site is broken into “islands” – distinct forms that together create a landscape. Outside the islands, the site is developed into a generous natural landscape which acts as the “sea” connecting the islands together. The islands become distinct neighborhoods with their own unique program area, character, community and atmosphere. Although they are distinct and human scaled, together the islands create a wonderfully diverse, active city life.  These island neighborhoods break down the overall density and mass of the large urban development to create a pedestrian scale….The creation of many islands maximizes the “coastline” to nature, increasing the quality and value of the property. The conceptual idea of the island arrangement allows for maximum freedom of development in the future…Once a barrier between neighborhoods, Yongsan IBD will create a new community that links adjacent communities into a cohesive whole and offer new opportunities to access the waterfront…Constructed wetlands, green roofs, fields of solar panels, and other strategies for sustainable living are an integral part of the landscape experience for the community.

More on the winning design can be seen at Libeskind’s website the website of the developer. Four other architecture firms were in the short list, but did not win: Asymptote (with Hargreaves Associates), Foster + Partners, Jerde Partnership, and  Skidmore Owings and Merrill. You can see their designs at the  Dreamhub website. World Architecture News says the five architects were given US$ 1 million to refine their first designs.



An Italian architecture firm’s project for a park also in Italy will be completed later this month.  Other websites say that the theme of the park is based on the five senses that the human has (sight, hearing, touch etc.). And for each theme, the materials and plants/trees are related to it. I don’t have any other details.

The design seems OK, but the diagrams used to explain it do not seem to have much to do with the human senses and seem unnecessary.

shanghai-traffic management voting booth

I think one of the things that make it difficult (and dangerous) in Shenzhen for pedestrians and makes things harder for urban planners in in Shenzhen is the lack of enforcement of both traffic and parking rules. A foreigner in Shanghai, who thinks Shanghai is starting to get better about traffic enforcement has seen a ‘voting booth’ at a street corner.

The “Satisfaction Post” (满意柱) allows citizens to vote on whether they are satisfied or not with the local police’s ability to control traffic.  Placing a red ring on a small plastic pillar means “satisfied,” while a blue ring means “unsatisfied.” Below the ringed voting system is a slit to submit any feedback.

The voting booth is also a suggestion booth.

I know that part of the enforcement problem is the small number of police in Shenzhen and that a larger % of the total police in China work in offices, rather than patrol the streets–which is why Shenzhen relies so much on cameras to catch traffic violations. But only a few types of traffic violations can be caught be cameras–and even those can be avoided by drivers who know where the lights are. Traffic enforcement needs to be done by humans on the street–constantly.

But in the United States, traffic enforcement and fines actually make a lot of money for city governments. New York City made more than US$ 400 million from parking fines in 2004–that was five years ago. That was parking fines, and does not include traffic fines. Traffic enforcement is not a cost for cities, it is a money earner.

More photos at the link, from psfk.com. And there is a link to the Shanghai Traffic Police web page. 上海交通安全信息网which might have more information.

UPDATE: according to a news article from yesterday, the city of New York is expecting US$ 686 million in parking fines this year. Some are saying teh city is being too strict on parking. Others feel that, while it is nice the city is collecting aprking  fines, it also needs to be better about traffic violations.

(IF New York had lots of green roofs. Not one of the photos from the link)

(IF New York had lots of green roofs. NOT one of the photos from the link)

From the English Edition of National Geographic magazine, some nice photos of  green roofs. Lots of variety.

Plants/grass are required on on new flat roofs in Basel, Switzerland. “If we steal the ground for a building,” says International Green Roof Association director Wolfgang Ansel, “we can give it back to nature on the roof.”

The article is here. The American Society of Landscape Architects, has a blog that links to the article and comments from some of the  landscape architects:

“Think about trying to create a scaled, interesting park space underneath a 30 foot  high elevated 10-lane highway. It will take an extremely creative design team to pull this off.

Additionally, will roads be allowed to cut underneath the building? With the footprint being so linear, are the developers setting up a “superblock” or “radiant city” scenerio, where streetscapes and human scaled elements dominate rather than vast expanses of park land?”

From the New York Times. Shenzhen needs green roofs to help lessen the load on sewers during heavy rains and cleanse the air.

The Toronto council this month got a look at a proposed green roof by-law that would make such installations mandatory on certain new developments with a gross floor area exceeding 54,000 square feet. The measure, which is a component of Mayor David Miller’s environmental strategy, proposes greening 30 to 60 percent of the roof area, depending on building size. Exemptions include schools, industrial structures, low- to mid-rise apartment buildings and affordable housing.” “If adopted, the city of Toronto would be the first municipality in North America with a mandatory green roof by-law. Similar requirements exist in Japan, Switzerland, Germany and France.

This opinion piece in a local Dubai newspaper says that Dubai needs moer than towers to be pedestrian friendly.

The biggest problem with rows of towers is the absence of life where buildings meet the street, the only part of these structures that exists on a human scale.Without cafes, small shops and restaurants, streets lined only with tall towers can be foreboding, ugly, even dangerous. Many cities have at least one central area made up primarily of towers, and the dynamics are always the same. The offices in these towers bring people to the streets during the day, but almost all of them disappear in the evenings. Without any pedestrians at night, these streets can become places for illicit activity – vandalism, harassment or, in some cases, drug use.

People need reasons to be in the city, whether it’s to shop, eat or sit. The presence of small businesses at the ground level of tall towers has a humanising effect on the streetscape. It extends the hours of activity: an otherwise underused pavement can become lively, a destination even, if executed well.

The absence of street life in large parts of Abu Dhabi and Dubai is a result of the rush to build….It could be argued that both Dubai and Abu Dhabi have developed too quickly, and according to how planners thought cities ought to look, not how they ought to function….The excessive heat is often cited as an argument against creating more exciting outdoor businesses and other spaces, but it doesn’t hold water: for more than half the year we have the kind of weather that most cold-climate people envy.

Shenzhen is often compared to Dubai, and here, setting skyscrapers back from the street and pushing retail into  shopping malls also creates lifeless spaces. The beautiful plazas for those skyscrapers set back from the street often end up as ugly parking lots.

A different commentary on Dubai’s shaky economic and urban planning and what has happened since the financial crisis:

Between the malls, there is nothing but the connecting tissue of asphalt. Every road has at least four lanes; Dubai feels like a motorway punctuated by shopping centres. You only walk anywhere if you are suicidal. The residents of Dubai flit from mall to mall by car or taxis.

Dubai is not just a city living beyond its financial means; it is living beyond its ecological means.

The Worldmapper website, has maps of the world according to statistics in various categories. Below is just one of the 600 maps that they have.

map of the world with size of cuntry showing number of shipping containers being loaded and unloaded there.

map of the world with size of country showing number of shipping containers being loaded and unloaded there.


2009年5月22日 至 2009年5月23日

In English : http://www.hkip.org.hk/plcc/index.htm






09:30 – 17:30
地点: 香港马湾挪亚渡假酒店

生态游1 – 火山岩之旅
08:45 – 15:30
西贡东郊野公园 (万宜水库东坝)

生态游2 – 沉积岩之旅
11:15 – 17:00

语言: 英文或普通话 (并提供英文及普通话的实时传译服务)



In this article from Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental studies, the author talk about why some of the plans for eco-cities in China, such as Dongtan near Shanghai have been stopped. Some quotes from the article:

Dongtan and other highly touted eco-cities across China were meant to be models of sustainable design for the future. Instead they’ve become models of bold visions that mostly stayed on the drawing boards — or collapsed from shoddy implementation. More often than not, these vaunted eco-cities have been designed by big-name foreign architectural and engineering firms who plunged into the projects with little understanding of Chinese politics, culture, and economics — and with little feel for the needs of local residents whom the utopian communities were designed to serve. “What I have always found amazing about these eco-towns is how seemingly easy it is for people to, first, tout these as a sign of China’s commitment to the environment and then, second, be surprised when things fail,” writes Richard Brubaker, founder and managing director of China Strategic Development Partners.

….Some of the problems are common to high-profile, visionary projects across China. Richard “Tad” Ferris, a Washington, D.C., lawyer for the firm Holland & Knight, explains that there exists in China, especially in Chinese law, an “aspirational culture” rather than a “compliance culture” — meaning that implementation and oversight of regulations and plans frequently fall short of reality. Anyone who has ever walked down the streets of Beijing, where sidewalks slabs with raised bumps for blind pedestrians suddenly veer into open manhole covers, knows that paths paved with progressive intentions can be strewn with peril. But there’s another side of the story. The most highly publicized eco-cities, including Dongtan and Huangbaiyu, drew upon expertise from some of the most vaunted international architectural and design firms….This international spotlight helps explain both the high hopes — and, in this case, great disappointment — connected with these eco-cities. As Wen tellingly notes, these particular projects were always much better known outside China than inside.

…In order for a green community to succeed, it not only has to limit carbon emissions but actually be livable — and adapted to local circumstances. Without extensive consultation with local people, it’s a challenge for foreign planners, even with the best of intentions, to understand what is required to transplant a farmer who grew up plowing fields into a city dweller…. Brubaker stresses the need for more community consultation and a “locally guided process.”

….Other, less-publicized approaches to building eco-cities are now underway in China that so far seem to be making more progress. A partnership between the Singapore government and the local government to build an eco-city near Tianjin looks more promising, in part because money is coming from both sources and the project is expected to earn not only global kudos but money, making a greater level of supervision and follow-through more likely.

On the whole, within China, there has lately been more enthusiasm for expanding green building codes than building new cities from scratch. “Enforceable green building codes, with the designers’ and planners’ willingness to follow them, is very important,” says Wen Bo. “Such grand eco-city plans themselves are not eco-friendly.”

Read the comment to the story as well.