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REAL ESTATE: Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City
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Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City
A Decade On
By Dionis Wong, JLL Tianjin

BT 201812 Real 02中新天津生态城



在2008年之前,该场地主要是盐田,贫瘠的土地和污染的水体。 因此,面临的挑战是在非耕地和供水有限的地区开发一个新城市。


早在20世纪70年代,在新加坡的东北地区,榜鹅曾经是一个农村,有农场,渔村和低层住宅区。 自2010年以来,榜鹅已成为新加坡第一个生态城,旨在促进热带地区高层高密度城市的可持续生活。





BT 201812 real 01The Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city is a Government-to-Government project that was officially launched in 2008 between Singapore and China. According to the Government of Singapore, the vision of the Eco-City is to be “a thriving city which is socially harmonious, environmentally friendly and resource-efficient.” The Eco-City aims to be a role model for sustainable development for other cities in China and the rest of the world. As Eco-City celebrate 10 years, we take a look at its progress to date.

The Eco-city is located within the Tianjin Binhai New Area in the Bohai Bay Region. It is 45 kilometers from the Tianjin City Centre, 40 kilometers from Tianjin Airport and 150 kilometers from Beijing City Centre. The entire Eco-city spans 30 square kilometers.

The Eco-City is one of the key functional zones in the Tianjin Binhai New Area (TBNA), contributing to the economic growth of the entire TBNA.

Initial development versus current and future development

Prior to 2008, the site was mainly saltpans, barren land, and polluted water-bodies. Hence, the challenge is to develop a new city on non-arable land and in a region with limited water supply.

The Tianjin Eco-City Master Plan is overseen by the Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority, the China Academy of Urban Planning and Design and the Tianjin Urban Planning and Design Institute. Whilst the plan is largely influenced by the Singapore Neighbourhood Concept, it has been adapted to meet the needs of the local requirements of the Eco-City.

BT 201812 Real 03Source: Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City

The Eco-City is divided into 5 districts to be developed in phases over a period of 10 to 15 years. Presently, District 5, known as the Start-Up Area has been largely developed. As of late 2018, more than 100,000 residents have called the Eco-City home. Facilities like parks, community centers, schools, and a hospital are completed to serve the needs of the residents in District 5. According to the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City, there are currently 10,000 students enrolled in the 17 schools that are operating in the Eco-City. Local developers including Vanke Group, Keppel Land China, Shimao Group, Beijing Vantone Real Estate have either developed or in the midst of developing green homes in the Eco-City.

International property developers such as Farglory Group, Sunway Berhad, Ayala Land, Samsung C&T Corporation and Mitsui Fudosan Residential Co Ltd are also developing or have developed green residential projects through joint ventures with the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City Investment and Development Co Ltd. As such, with this overseas investment and rising global recognition, the Eco-City is on track to be a model green and sustainable city.

The next phase of development will be in District 4, also known as the Central District. In the next 5 years, bound by the Ji Canal and Central Boulevard, a 1 square kilometer city center will occupy a quarter of the 4.5 square kilometers Central District which will serve as the heart of the commercial, leisure, and recreational activities. By 2020, the Z4 rail line is expected to be completed, linking the Eco-City to the high-speed railway between Tianjin and Beijing, and also to the metro line 9 in the Tianjin Binhai New Area. The Z4 rail line will cover a distance of 43.5 kilometers, consisting of 23 stations that include stops at the Eco-City, Yujiapu Commercial District and Hangu New Town. This will provide greater accessibility and convenience via public transport to and from the Eco-City. Residents and visitors can also look forward to the use of green transport including smart bus stops, driverless cars, and bicycles within the Eco-City.

An artists impression of Punggol Eco Town which incorporates HDB flats with green technology such as solar panelsAn artist's impression of Punggol Eco Town, which incorporates HDB flats with green technology such as solar panels

How similar is it to Singapore Neighbourhoods?

Back in the 1970s, in the north-east region of Singapore, Punggol used to be a rural district with farms, fishing village, and low-rise residential areas. Since 2010, Punggol has been developed as Singapore’s first Eco-Town, to promote sustainable living in a high-rise high-density city in the tropics.

According to the Housing Development Board in Singapore, the Treelodge@Punggol is the first eco-friendly public housing project and have been awarded the Green Mark Platinum Award. It consists of seven public housing blocks with 712 residential units, a podium car park and green spaces throughout the 2.9-hectare development. Solar photovoltaic panels are installed on rooftops to harness solar energy to power common area lightings, lifts, and pumps. Rainwater harvesting system with storage tanks are installed on each residential block for common area washing and irrigation. A community garden also provides community engagement and interaction amongst the residents through green activities.

The Lorong Halus Wetland in the Punggol region is part of the Serangoon Reservoir where in the past, it used to be a sewage disposal center and landfill facility with refuse mounds reaching 10 storeys high. Hence, measures are taken to contain and treat for any leachate first to safeguard the quality of water in the reservoir and prevent any contamination. By cleaning up the landfill and transforming it into a wetland, it now serves as a bio-remediation system and a haven for biodiversity.

As such, the Government of Singapore has brought its expertise from home to other cities. The similarities in the urban planning and design can be seen in the development of the Eco-City albeit at a much larger scale.

What are the possible challenges for Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City?


As the Eco-city is situated close to the coast like most projects in Binhai New Area, there could be a risk of exposure to rising sea level in the long term due to climate change. With limited water supply, the cost and benefits of obtaining water through means such as installing storm water and drainage system, water reclamation and rain water harvesting have to be considered prudently.


Having a temperate climate would mean there would be months with shorter days and longer nights. As such, it could be a challenge to ensure full optimization of solar panels for heating and cooling systems during the hot summers and cold winters.

Finance & Risks

Aside from being environmentally sustainable, the Eco-City also needs to be financially sustainable. Having a healthy economic growth would be fundamental to ensure that there will be sufficient funds and revenue to maintain and operate the infrastructure systems and for future land use development.

An artists impression of the Gateway Plaza in the Sino Singapore Tianjin Eco CityAn artist's impression of the Gateway Plaza in the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City

How different is Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City from other parts of Tianjin?

One will notice the ample greenery in the Eco-City. The abundance of parks and recreational facilities dotting around the Eco-City allow residents and visitors of all ages to engage in outdoor activities during the warmer seasons. This also provides plentiful opportunities for family bonding, social activities, and community engagement. As one of the aims of the Eco-City is to encourage the use of public transport and non-motorized modes of transport like cycling and walking, there will be lesser reliance on traveling via private transport, thereby reducing noise pollution. Furthermore, having an entertainment and technology theme park, Fantawild Adventure located within the Eco-City, the Eco-City is not just a residential enclave but also a place to work, live and play.

Conclusion: the future of Tianjin urban growth?

With the challenges faced in developing a new city from scratch, the initial growth of the city will be slow due to ongoing construction and development of buildings and infrastructure as the foundation of the city. However, being a once deserted land that has now been transformed into an environmentally friendly and livable city within a span of a decade is considered an extraordinary feat. Singapore’s National Development Minister Lawrence Wong commented during the celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the Eco-City in Tianjin that “Through the hard work and close collaboration between Tianjin and Singapore partners, we have built up the Eco-City into a green, vibrant, integrated township.” As such, given more time, when fully developed, the Eco-City would evolve to be a self-sufficient, livable and sustainable city.

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