Our last day in Ningbo, on December 29, we spend largely hopping from one hotel to another as we monitored the metropolis from on top of the Yongyao Hotel, the Fumao Hotel, the Ningbo World Hotel and a couple of others. As mentioned before, the Tianyi City Plaza by MADA s.p.a.m. forms the commercial heart of a city with a population of about 6 million.
The China Economic Review (CER) published back in 2004 a short overview of the plans ahead to develop Ningbo in the coming years. What we see, on the pictures below, are the first results of what in the CER article “A bridge for prosperity” is described as follows:
Much of the city has been pretty comprehensively trashed in favor of the new-look Chinese city model – broad boulevards, high-rise offices and strategically placed “green” zones. Like Jinan and several other cities, the Ningbo city fathers razed a huge area of the central city and put in a massive plaza complete with endless fountains dancing to music. The Ningbo version – Tianyi Plaza – is circular in shape with the ring occupied by restaurants and shops and a weird former Catholic church lit up like a gargoyled karaoke palace.
In 2005, the Yale-China Review published an interesting article called “New Design in China” written by Alonzo Emery. While the text focuses on authors’ experience of witnessing the development at first hand, the architect gets a bit over-excited by stating that “in the tradition of architectural greats like Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Rem Koolhaas, Ma (Ma Qingyun, principal of MADA s.p.a.m.) understands the need both to project a big personality and to shock with radical ideas about the future of architecture“. Overall it is a nice read from which we want to highlight the following:
Ningbo, once China’s largest trading port, now sits poised for its resurgence as a business and cultural mecca. In the coming years, Ningbo will connect to Shanghai via a modern expressway and high-speed rail link. This direct connection to China’s major business hub has inspired a flood of land speculation and an interest in commissioning new development projects. Back in 2002, the talk of the town was Ningbo’s new city square, Tian Yi Guangchang (Tian Yi Square.) Its overwhelming size provided the grand scale demanded by Chinese civic design, and yet the Square demonstrated a bit more subtlety in its inclusion of polished wood balustrades and spare concrete forms. This modernist twist seemed quite a departure from the UFO-crowned structures to which I had slowly acclimated myself during my first three months in China.
Pictures by movingcities.org