Dalian: helping Chinese cities move to the next stage

Dalian Skyline

19/11/2012 Written by: Jim Coleman Be the first to comment

Earlier this year, Happold Consulting was invited to join one of the teams taking part in an international competition to develop a strategic masterplan for the Diamond Bay area of Dalian. Our team – led by John Thompson and Partners (JTP) and also including Gillespies – subsequently won the competition. The team was then invited to Dalian to take part in a week-long expert workshop, assisting the city municipality and local Design Institute to refine the plan.

Dalian is a mid-sized, coastal city in north-eastern China with a metropolitan population of around 5 million. Historically, the city has majored on shipbuilding and port-related activities as economic drivers, as well as manufacturing, fishing and food and drink sectors. Given its unique waterfront setting, the city has also been a strong draw for domestic tourists. As the shipbuilding industry and elements of manufacturing have re-shaped themselves, there are now numerous opportunities for the city to emerge as a modern, re-structured economic centre.

With a relatively settled population and significant new development already underway, Dalian is already moving up the value to chain to establish itself as a leader in higher quality production and shipping. Challenges remain, however, in developing a stronger business services sector and a higher value tourism offer.

The team developed a number of new concepts for the Diamond Bay area of the city: a 15km long waterfront area that had played host to many of the city’s defining industries. Following submission of the wining concept plan, our expert group spent a week alongside the client refining ideas. Happold Consulting’s role was to develop a viable economic strategy that would underpin the spatial and physical development of the city ensuring that it modernises successfully.

Dalian now has an opportunity to act as an exemplar to other Chinese cities – emphasising how to move towards greater economic specialisation and innovation-based activity; our work is supporting this process.


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