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ON THE HORIZON: The South Bay Waterfront Development
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The South Bay Waterfront Development

By Richard J. Cook

BT 201604 160 04 On the Horizon Screen Shot 2016 03 04 at 5.48.06 PMIt's more good news for the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City this month as local authorities have revealed plans for a new waterfront development project. As if the Eco-City hadn't already drawn enough local, national and international attention in recent months. Sources claim that the project will break ground immediately as an American company's design proposal was accepted. The proposal displays a truly revitalised and extremely attractive water park area -- modern, clean and green. Already noted for its ecological advancements, this latest project is the next piece of the jigsaw puzzle that will ultimately turn Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City into one of the most desirable and ecologically-livable communities in the world. Showcasing 30 square-kilometers of environmentally-friendly innovation, the South Bay Waterfront is the latest addition to China's leading ecosystem project.

The waterfront development itself will boast 13 oceanic-themed areas at the mouth of the Nanwan River -- not far from the mouth of the Haihe River -- covering a total of 145 hectares. Each side of the mouth of the Nanwan River will be excavated to allow the construction of new riverbanks. Furthermore, the new riverbanks have been designed to assist water flow during high and low tides, meaning the construction of small artificial inlets will be possible to perfect the beauty of the area. Within the 145 hectare zone, 66 of them have been allocated as green areas, permitting the plantation of vast flowerbeds and foliage, again for the sake of beauty. Also, this will assist the new riverbank placements, as the new greenery will anchor the newly-moved earth following the project's completion. This will also stretch 2.8 kilometres upstream and will range 300–600 metres on each bank. This will then be centered on a newly-constructed maritime museum, which will boast an impressive and dominating structure for the area. In addition, a reef is also to be constructed in order to preserve and enhance the natural maritime wildlife, also paving the way for a new maritime wildlife colonisation study.

A Green Fun Factor

Once the project is completed -- prospectively in late 2017 -- it is expected to tick several requirements for local and regional needs. Firstly, it conforms to the expansion of the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City development policy, showcasing "China's cities of tomorrow". Not only that, the project's focus on water conservation will raise attention and understanding to China's critical water shortage problem, specifically in the north of the country. South Bay Waterfront can and should act as a tool to educate on the issue of water conservation. Secondly, it lays the foundation for a tourism industry to serve as an inner city getaway, contrastin g the concrete maze that echoes with car horns day-in, day-out. Recreational activities -- such as jet skiing, wind surfing and a whole range of other sports -- are designed to ignite a largely dormant Chinese fascination with the sea. This is not only for Tianjin, but also for the entire region, as nowhere else in northern China will possess this kind of tourism market. On a side note, the project is also designed to draw increasing media exposure, not just to the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City, but also to the Binhai TEDA Zone, more specifically the Yujiapu Financial District. The green fun factor being a stone's throw away from the newly-constructed financial district is a pitch to attract big name companies to move operations there, whilst the new Eco-City development acts as an attractive "Central Park" to the immediate area. The final aim is to bolster the desirability of Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City's residential sector, to attract the 350,000 population target by 2020.

BT 201604 160 04 On the Horizon link
Hit or Miss

The new South Bay Waterfront project announcement has come at a much-needed time, after increasing scrutiny over the Eco-City in general in recent months. Overall, the Eco-City development was described as "reasonable", shortly before Singapore President Tony Tan Ken Yam made his visit there last summer. Since then the ever-looming critics have had their say, primarily attempting to don the area as a ghost city due to population concerns. The population target was among the issues then and is still a major one for concern now, having only filled 20,000 of the 350,000 city capacity. Moreover, the Eco-City plan, as published by the Ministry of Development's Eco-City Project Office, has already passed the halfway mark and no one likes a missed target in China. What is clear is that pressure is building and the South Bay Waterfront project could be in danger of being a "hit or miss". Success is clearly tied to whether more people decide to move there, or whether a tourism industry ferments.

Tianjin's Symbolic Maritime History

Since China's reintegration into global affairs back in 1992, China has increasingly looked to the sea. For Tianjin, the new South Bay Waterfront project is expected to provide a new maritime culture zone, which has the aim to resurrect and enhance the local people's love of the sea. Of course Tianjin has a long maritime culture, emanating from its critical economic position as the port for China's capital Beijing. In the late 1800's to the mid 1930's, Tianjin was one of many cornerstones in maritime history, as rival colonial powers sought to position themselves here in order to get in on the lucrative trade that flowed throw the region. It was in this era that a major maritime culture developed, as well as a strong international outreach based on trade. Today that maritime culture is being resurrected after decades of isolation. Tianjin is a global port, expanding and bound for a huge economic success, however the resurgence of Tianjin's maritime culture doesn't just rest on trade in the high seas and this project is keen to illustrate that.BT 201604 160 02 On the Horizon 002


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