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People's needs must be counted in designing urban areas

By ZHOU WENTING in Shanghai | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-09-23 08:04

The needs of various groups, including children, the elderly, low-income individuals, and those with physical challenges, must be taken into consideration when designing areas along the main waterways in Shanghai, an urban planning expert said.

Also, women's participation in the design and management of the waterfront areas must be adequate to ensure public areas and facilities benefit the interests of both genders, Li Xiaojiang, former head of the China Academy of Urban Planning and Design, said at a cultural promotion campaign of Shanghai themed "When Suzhou Creek meets the Seine River" inaugurated in the municipality on Thursday.

During the yearlong campaign hosted by Shanghai United Media Group and various organizations, including Shanghai International Culture Association, discussions will be fostered between Shanghai and Paris regarding areas like city upgrading, waterfront area management, sustainable economic development and cultural innovation.

The year-long campaign marks the beginning of Shanghai's five-year cultural promotion campaign themed "Our Water: Flowing from Shanghai — Inter-cultural Dialogues among World Cities". Shanghai will hold a variety of activities aimed at facilitating dialogues with one world-class riverside city each year.

"We believe that the activities of the upcoming year will once again connect the two world-class historical and cultural cities and promote exchanges between them in various fields," said Ma Xiaohong, deputy head of the publicity department of the Shanghai Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China.

David Kibler, deputy consul general of the Consulate General of France in Shanghai, said he expects the two cities to continue their collaborations in the fields of culture, sports and environment, including urban renewal, development of waterfront areas and management of water resources.

Li said society's people-centered development philosophy must be put into practice in urban planning, including individuals of different genders, ages and income levels.

"By putting up the concept of being friendly to all, we must add facilities that welcome people of different needs and interests at different hours," said Li.

Instead of making top-down designs for the public space along Suzhou Creek, the district and community authorities should survey local residents and test their designs through supply and demand, said Li.

Some Western societies have experiences that Shanghai can draw from in this respect, said Li. For example, the Millennium Bridge, one of the River Thames intersections in London, is accessible by barrier-free facilities throughout. And Stockholm, for example, has mature expressway systems for cyclists.

The Seine River, a riverfront open space of high quality and comfort, also has many good practices to offer, such as construction on a scale suitable and pleasant to human activities, and caring for both the urban environment and people's health, said Li.

"It's worth mentioning that the intensity of attractions along the Seine River is quite high, usually several hundred meters between one another. And among them, the National Library of France touches me the most. It shows that culture and spiritual pursuit is highly valued in the society," Li said.

Writer Xu Zhiyuan said, "In addition to meeting basic rules, Shanghai must think of something unique of its own in its urban design. A city varies from another in its traits and concepts."


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