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Dongtan is a plan for a new
New town
A new town is a specific type of a planned community, or planned city, that was carefully planned from its inception and is typically constructed in a previously undeveloped area. This contrasts with settlements that evolve in a more ad hoc fashion. Land use conflicts are uncommon in new...

 eco-city on the island of Chongming in Shanghai
Shanghai is the largest city by population in China and the largest city proper in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities in the People's Republic of China, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010...

, China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

. The name of the city literally translates as "East Beach".


Dongtan was planned to open, with accommodation for 10,000, in time for the Expo 2010
Expo 2010
Expo 2010, officially Expo 2010 Shanghai China was held on both banks of the Huangpu River in the city of Shanghai, China, from May 1 to October 31, 2010. It was a major World Expo in the tradition of international fairs and expositions, the first since 1992...

 in Shanghai. By 2050 the city was expected to be one-third the size of Manhattan
Manhattan is the oldest and the most densely populated of the five boroughs of New York City. Located primarily on the island of Manhattan at the mouth of the Hudson River, the boundaries of the borough are identical to those of New York County, an original county of the state of New York...

, with a total planned population of 500,000. However no construction of the eco-city has taken place yet, so the project has fallen behind schedule.


Arup is a global professional services firm headquartered in London, United Kingdom which provides engineering, design, planning, project management and consulting services for all aspects of the built environment. The firm is present in Africa, the Americas, Australasia, East Asia, Europe and the...

, the British engineering consultancy firm, was contracted in 2005 by the developer, The Shanghai Industrial Investment Company (SIIC), to design and masterplan Dongtan, an eco-city on Chongming Island close to Shanghai, the first of a planned series.

Dongtan was presented at the United Nations World Urban Forum by China as an example of an eco-city, and is the first of up to four such cities to be designed and built in China by Arup. The cities are planned to be ecologically friendly, with zero-greenhouse-emission transit and complete self-sufficiency in water and energy, together with the use of zero energy building
Zero energy building
A zero-energy building, also known as a zero net energy building, Net-Zero Energy Building , or Net Zero Building, is a popular term to describe a building with zero net energy consumption and zero carbon emissions annually. Zero energy buildings can be independent from the energy grid supply...

 principles. Energy demand will be substantially lower than comparable conventional cities due to the high performance of buildings and a zero emission transport zone within the city. Waste is considered to be a resource and most of the city's waste will be recycled.

Dongtan proposes to have only green transport movements along its coastline. People will arrive at the coast and leave their cars behind, traveling along the shore as pedestrians, cyclists or on sustainable public transport
Public transport
Public transport is a shared passenger transportation service which is available for use by the general public, as distinct from modes such as taxicab, car pooling or hired buses which are not shared by strangers without private arrangement.Public transport modes include buses, trolleybuses, trams...

 vehicles. The only vehicles allowed in the city will be powered by electricity or hydrogen. Houses are now selling here to Shanghai middle classes for use when spending weekends away from the city. The Controlling authorities are now backtracking on these commitments and allowing private vehicles onto the site.

EPSRC, the UK funding body for academic research, is supporting four Dongtan research networks of UK and Chinese universities to study the research agenda for eco-city design. Arup is assisting in the coordination of these networks and in planning associated Institutes for Sustainability.


The reaction to Dongtan has been mixed, although recent media coverage has largely been negative due to delays and shortcomings in the project's execution.

Former Mayor of London
Mayor of London
The Mayor of London is an elected politician who, along with the London Assembly of 25 members, is accountable for the strategic government of Greater London. Conservative Boris Johnson has held the position since 4 May 2008...

 Ken Livingstone
Ken Livingstone
Kenneth Robert "Ken" Livingstone is an English politician who is currently a member of the centrist to centre-left Labour Party...

 praised Dongtan as pioneering work leading to a more sustainable future. His sentiments were echoed by other prominent British politicians, including Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown
James Gordon Brown is a British Labour Party politician who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Labour Party from 2007 until 2010. He previously served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Labour Government from 1997 to 2007...

 and Tony Blair
Tony Blair
Anthony Charles Lynton Blair is a former British Labour Party politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007. He was the Member of Parliament for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007...

, although none of them has ever visited the site.

Critics have argued that Dongtan will not have a big impact on existing Chinese cities, which will still house the majority of the population.

The main designers, Arup, are also taking part in many less environmentally-friendly projects in China, including airports and office blocks. Arup recently received the "Greenwasher of the Year Award" from Ethical Corporation Magazine for the most dubious green claim of the year, describing Dongtan as a Potemkin village
Potemkin village
Potemkin villages or Potyomkin villages is an idiom based on a historical myth. According to the myth, there were fake settlements purportedly erected at the direction of Russian minister Grigory Potemkin to fool Empress Catherine II during her visit to Crimea in 1787...


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