To kick off the first day of the CO-OPOLIS Workshop in Dalian, cultures mixed as the Australian students were given Chinese names by their Chinese counterparts, and vice versa. A T-shaped profile stoker followed, enabling us to get to know the breadth and depth of each other’s skills.
A short lecture on the “Urban design history of Dalian” by Professor Hu Wenhui (given in both Mandarin and English) gave us an idea of the 3 major stages of Dalian’s development (the 1800s and early 1900s, 1920-post WWII, and post WWII-current), as well as an understanding of the influences of the Russian and Japanese occupations on the city’s architecture. After a short break (during which the Australians flocked to the coffee machine), Prelector Zhang Yu spoke about the role mining has played in Dalian’s development, and it’s ongoing effects on urban and rural environments in China.
The afternoon saw the whole group heading out on a bus tour of the city. The first stop was the site to be rehabilitated – Brown Field. I think I speak for many when I say we were shocked and awed by the scale, environmental degradation and poverty of the site. The many factors and stakeholders which must be balanced and considered make the site’s redevelopment an incredibly interesting and challenging project.
The bus tour continued into the center of the city through Zhongshan Square, then down to the docklands where we saw Warehouse No. 15 and the construction site of a new Conference Hall, which will host the Davos Conference. The views from the drive along the coastline were slightly obscured by the mist hanging over the hills, but enough could be seen to appreciate the amazing scenery.
For dinner we had an amazing feast at a fancy restaurant – Dalian’s famous seafood, as well as many types of meats, vegetables, dumplings, and fruit were on offer. Some teams even took the opportunity to get to work.
Back at DUT, the groups sat down to collate their observations on the site visit, before capping off the day by each giving short presentations about their initial thoughts. Before work can continue much further, an important next step for us is to understand more about the Chinese customs surrounding land ownership, development, and government control and decision making procedures, among other things, which differ greatly from Australian practices. This will be one of the first things on the agenda for tomorrow, when the project continues.