Having just moved into our new apartment we have started to explore our immediate surroundings. One thing we will not be getting away from is the new development that is being build right on our doorstep. So far there have been no sleepless nights and it all just looks very exciting. There is activity day and night and from the window of one of the rooms you can watch them working, like little men in a model village. They are all housed on site so the commute to work looks pretty easy (this on-site living is very normal over here for people working on building sites and even in factories).
The development in question is the Suzhou Central Plaza, which will the biggest urban complex in China, covering 21.1 hectares including 13.9 hectares of land area. The complex will have 1,300,000 sqm floor area above the ground and 520,000 sqm under ground and will consist of ten buildings of various sizes. It will house offices and apartments as well as a huge shopping mall, an olympic size skating rink (with real ice apparently), cinemas and other entertainment, supermarkets (gourmet of course), food courts, etc, etc. Are you getting excited yet?
The Central Plaza development broke ground just earlier this year and will be build around the Gate to the Orient (dōngfāngzhīmén – also the name of the nearest metro station) which is already under construction. This is the building which has become known as ‘the pants’, a nickname that we easily took over.
At the start of the year they joined the two legs of the pants together at the top and the whole structure is due to finish somewhere around the second half of next year although there have been some rumours that there are delays due to subsiding of one of the legs but I guess you shouldn’t believe everything you hear. Then again, this place was built on what used to be swamp…
Behind the pants, two super tall buildings will rise (500m & 450m) which will add to the creation of eight records in the history of Chinese construction, according to the website of the SIP (Suzhou Industrial Park) government. They are: the tallest gate in the world, the tallest building in China (at 500m it will surpass the Shanghai World Financial Center by a mere eight meters), the skyscraper with the most complicated structure, the building using the most steel products, the tallest Suzhou-style garden (honestly, that’s an easy one…), the deepest private wine cellar (how can they possible know this?), the tallest overpass, and the tallest swimming pool in the country. We’ll have to find out who owns that wine cellar before the place is finished… although it is said that the rest of the development won’t be completed until the middle of 2017 so we may have to drink wine elsewhere…
The developments in our front yard are just a part of a much larger effort by the SIP government to develop the whole SIP area, an economic cooperation project between the Chinese and Singaporean governments, which just celebrated its 18th anniversary earlier this year. The Suzhou Industrial Park is the area to the east of the old town of Suzhou and covers about 290 sqkm, a lot of which has already gone through a transformation. The goal is to develop the whole area into a sustainable hi-tech industrial park with international competitiveness, the focus currently being on the rising sectors of new energy, bio-medicine, converged communications, software & creativity, and eco-environmental protection. I don’t know whether they are succeeding in reaching this goal but it sure does look impressive.
Well it’s all happening around us. Luckily whenever we need a break from all the madness we can just walk over to the other side of our apartment and look out over the beautiful Jinji Lake (or Jinjihu).
Just in case you got really excited by all this:
China’s Biggest Urban Complex