Riding the tranquil wave

Atkins | 10 Jul 2009 | Comments

Atkins has been given the task of designing a major new container port on Meishan Island in China, as part of the central government’s plans for even more extensive global economic activity along the country’s prosperous East Coast.

Ningbo, which translates literally as “the calm wave”, is no ordinary city. Located in Eastern China, just south of the Yangtze River Delta, Ningbo’s history can be traced back 7,000 years. It was one of the starting points of the Silk Road on the Sea. It was given independent foreign trade rights by the government in 1987 and its port is second only in scale and capacity to Shanghai.

In February 2008, the State Council of the People’s Republic of China established the Ningbo-Meishan Bonded Port Zone, the fifth such commercial zone in China.

Atkins has been asked to provide a conceptual masterplan for Meishan Island, which sits in the Beilun District on the eastern coast of Ningbo. Atkins has also been asked to provide the urban design for the Central District, including detailed land use and facilities.

Atkins’ concept is to create an island of double faces along the seafront zone of the island, with a vibrant port aspect to the south and natural hilly aspect to the north. Based on the unique free trade port operations of the island, the port’s layout is designed to ensure container yard and logistics convenience. At the same time, the island’s coastal wetlands and lush green hills are reserved for public leisure activities. In effect, the island becomes a double-faced combination of port city and nature.

New tomorrow

The bonded port zone covers 7.7km2 around Meishan Island and will integrate port operations with logistics and trade services. Atkins has already successfully designed a new waterfront district in the area and so is familiar with the island and its surroundings.

This free trade port will act as the hub for a highly functional and integrated commercial system. The core district will sit where the vibrant commercial belt and green belt intersect. An ocean-facing view has been proposed for the developments to be located on the inner part of the island, with each area divided according to its unique function and aspect.

The main function of the Bonded Port Zone will include business operations as an international shipping point, procurement, trade and export processing. It will feature a manufacturing zone as well as business, research and development districts, and leisure facilities.

The first phase of the Bonded Port Zone is expected to be ready for operation by 2012, with the entire Meishan development due to be completed by 2020. The ultimate goal is to produce a first-class bonded port and city within an ecologically-friendly context.

In line with Atkins’ aims, environmental considerations have been high on the design list and an eco-residential area forms a significant part of the initial proposals. According to Li Xiaodong, planning department manager with Atkins in Shanghai: “The challenge was not only how to develop the port but also how to integrate it with the other uses of the island, including significant areas requiring ecological protection.”

In the long-term, the Ningbo-Meishan Bonded Port Zone has the potential to become a strategically important door to the Yangtze Delta from the outside world, as well as a vital part of the Shanghai international shipping centre and the heart of the Ningbo-Zhoushan ports.

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