China’s Megacity Building Spree Continues Unabated

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015
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Beijing continues to forge ahead with human history’s largest urban construction drive despite fears of an imminent real estate crash in the world’s second largest economy.

Despite long-standing reports of deserted ghost towns and fears of a looming bubble in its real estate sector, China is continuing to build immense “megacities” at breakneck speed.

While the international press has long speculated about whether China’s mass building spree will result in a real estate crash of commensurate scale, Beijing’s political leaders appear firmly convinced that the country’s inexorable demographic shift will justify their actions in hindsight.

China is currently undergoing perhaps the largest and fastest urbanization drive in human history, with a staggering 100 million people set to emigrate from the countryside to urban centres over the next decade.

Given the vast housing needs that this mass wave of internal migration will create, the construction of unoccupied urban communities long in advance could prove to be a demonstration of considerable prescience and foresight on the part of Beijing.

Heedless of the media frenzy surrounding China’s huge, unoccupied “ghost town,” the country’s policymakers continue to forge ahead with the construction of a slew of megacities to accommodate the upcoming wave of new urbanites.

Meixi Lake in Hunan province will perhaps be amongst the most scenic. The urban project envisages the creation of a grandiose canal city covering a total of 6.5 million square metres, set amidst the spectacular mountain and lake scenery for which Hunan province is renowned.

The project, which was approved by the Chinese government in 2012 and is expected to host a population of 180,000 people, will serve as a satellite city for the Hunan province capital of Changsha.

Meixi Lake’s denizens will dwell in scenic suburbs with populations of approximately 10,000 residents each, that are divided from each by nature strips that serve as “green buffers” in high-rise urban environment.

[Image of Meixi Lake courtesy of Pacific Rim Construction web11.jpg]

The water features lying at the centre of Meixi Lake will serve more than just an aesthetic purpose, enabling the city’s residents to commute to the provincial capital by means of boats traversing an extensive system of canals.

[Image of Meixi Lake water feature courtesy of Kohn Pedersen Fox 1355381799-kpf-meixi-lake-02-528×401.jpg]

Further east, just 60 kilometres from the iconic financial hub of Shanghai, the Chinese government is building a new city that will add approximately 800,000 new residents to the Yangtze River Delta region by the end of the current decade.

[Image of Nanhui New City courtesy of Vagabond Journey quiani_DCE.jpg]

The US$7 billion Nanhui New City Project is intended to complement the Yanghan Free Trade Zone – one of a swathe of such policy areas the Chinese government hopes will give further impetus to the regional economy.

The coastal city will cover approximately 500,000 square metres and will feature a novel circular layout studded with office complexes, apartment buildings and shopping malls.

Undoubtedly the most ambitious of all of China’s new megacities is the planned financial hub of Yujiapu, situated approximately 150 kilometres from the national capital of Beijing on a peninsula in the Tianjin Binhai New Area.

[Image of Yujiapu courtesy of The Global Chronicle: yujiapu-plan-2_DCE.jpg]

China’s top policy-makers hope the city will eventually emerge as the biggest financial centre in the world, covering a total of 60 million square metres and costing as much as US$56 billion to build.

If imitation is the best form of flattery, then Manhattan should view Yujiapu as fawning compliment. The Chinese city will feature its own versions of some of Big Apple’s most iconic landmarks, including its own Rockefeller Centre and pair of Twin Towers.

[Image of Yujiapu courtesy of Life Edit: yujiapu.jpg]

The current state of the project could bode poorly for the China’s megacity building drive, however, with construction slowdowns causing the project to miss its original completion date of June last year, leaving the site full of deserted and incomplete buildings.

[Image of unfinished Yujiapu construction site: LDREG4Q.jpg]

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