November 2, 2011
What are Asian cities doing to make themselves more liveable and attractive places for their citizens to work and play? Brian Baker explores the subject.
There are big schemes in Hong Kong, China and Singapore which promise to make a real difference.
Some of the largest, high-profile cities in Asia are making more liveable districts a distinct priority. West Kowloon Cultural District, on 40 hectares in Hong Kong, is a master-planned redevelopment which has certainly set out to do great things. The government has made a one-off award to the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority of HK$21.6 bn, which will be used for cultural facilities and open space, with commercial investors and developers invited to bid for plots and to build the rest of the new district.
Singapore was the highest-placed Asian city, 20th, in the most recent worldwide Mercer Quality of Life Index. The city has pressed ahead with ambitious new districts and other improvements, including the creation of a whole new downtown area on partly reclaimed land near water, now called Marina Bay.
Shanghai is regularly cited as the most liveable city in China. Whilst its historic districts, notably in Jingan, Luwan and Huanpu, suffered from unrestricted development in the 1990s, much stricter planning policies have been in place the last decade. Regeneration schemes have created attractive locations at, for example, Xintiandi, Tai Cang Lu and the Old Dock.