HOK’s Chris Fannin on the Urbanization of Bingzhou New Town in Xiamen, China
In the South China Morning Post, Chris Fannin, a director of HOK’s planning group, explains how the design team “preserves the past” by incorporating existing villages into the mixed-use Bingzhou New Town development.
Bingzhou New Town organizes a new destination resort and leisure-oriented development on Bingzhou Island while preserving and upgrading surrounding fishing villages. The development will feature a monorail system, attractive waterfront, and rich ecological and cultural resources.
“Unlike many other urbanization initiatives in China, the existing villages will be integrated into the design, becoming something that adds to the allure of the destination rather than something standing in the way of progress.
“‘Bingzhou Island, being one of the potentially distinctive elements [of Xiamen], has one of the deeper and recognizable cultural resources, which is the historic town and fishing village,’ says Chris Fannin, a director of planning at HOK, the firm which master-planned the new development. ‘It was more or less intact, so how could you incorporate this historic and well-functioning village into a broader tourist offering that would bring people into contact with the things that are being lost through development?’
“Off the island, a short hop over a bridge away, is a more conventional mixed-use cluster, which will include the usual assortment of residential high-rises and office buildings. The strategy is that this section will keep the island from becoming overdeveloped while still providing it with a population base that can support it economically.”
”’[Due to] the progressive detachment from the land that urbanizing societies have, we feel even more strongly that the opportunity to preserve those [historic sites] are really important,’ Fannin says. ‘It’s about maintaining that connective tissue to your history. Not every project has this opportunity.’”