Monthly Archives: November 2011

Guangzhou’s New Central Business District: Zhujiang New Town

Guangzhou’s New CBD (highlighted in red) sits north of the Pearl River and east of the Old City in what not long ago was agricultural land

Recently I visited Zhujiang New Town, Guangzhou’s newly built central business district (CBD). While Guangzhou itself is hardly a new city (its status as an international trading port goes back centuries), the CBD is brand new, built on what used to be agricultural land well outside of the historic city core. Though thanks to the city’s expanding underground metro and freeway system, Zhujiang New Town doesn’t seem so far away.

Currently Zhujiang New Town is best known as the site for the Guangzhou Opera House and many of the athletic venues for the 2010 Asian Games. One unique aspect about Guangzhou’s CBD compared with others around China is its marriage of cultural buildings with commercial office towers. In this regard, Zhujiang New Town is not much different from the planned ‘downtowns’ of sprawling 20th Century American cities like Los Angeles, Phoenix and Houston.

The iconic Canton Tower sits across the river, just south of the new CBD

View looking north at towers going up in the CBD

Aerial map of Guangzhou CBD

Adjacent to the Pearl River to the north is the site of Zhujiang New Town’s new cultural venues linked by a paved plaza. Directly north of that begins a park stretching four long blocks lined with brand new office towers. Underneath the park, a metro line runs the length of the CBD. This particular line of the Guangzhou metro system has no driver (so far this is the only instance of this I’ve seen in China!).

While the cultural venues were bustling with life when I was there, many of the completed office buildings were for the most part unoccupied and the park was a no-man’s land. This is not to say that the towers won’t be occupied very soon, as the finishing touches were just being put on. It will be interesting to see how this sparkling new CBD fills itself up in the coming months and years ahead.

1. Guangzhou Opera House

2. Guangdong Museum

3. Guangzhou Library

4. IFC Tower

5. New Commercial Office Buildings

6. Agricultural Bank of China Building

7. The Pearl River Tower

8. More Commercial Office Towers Under Construction

Deindustrializing Beijing: Images from the Decommissioned China National Steel Factory

Beijing’s poor air quality is a well-documented phenomenon, yet what is often not considered is the fact is that the municipality has taken steps in recent years to deindustrialize and move its polluting factories outside the city to neighboring provinces (mainly Hebei Province). Unfortunately the closure of factories doesn’t seem to have done much to abate Beijing’s air quality problems as an increasing number of private automobiles continue to clog the city’s roads. That being said, Beijing did try its best to at least keep its air clean for the two weeks of the Summer Olympics back in 2008.

One of the most high-profile examples of this effort was the permanent closure of the China National Steel Factory in western Beijing- one of the largest steel mills in the country. My friend and Beijing resident Daniel Garst, an American writer, recently had the opportunity to visit the decommissioned factory and take some nice shots of the slowly decaying complex.

As the future remains uncertain for the former steel factory, it presently serves as a reminder of Beijing’s industrial past and is a prime location for shooting photography and filming commercials. Perhaps the factory will be reused in the future as a commercial/entertainment district as developers take advantage of the ‘industrial chic’ aesthetic to redevelop other decommissioned factories around the country.

For now, please enjoy the following images of the abandoned complex.