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July 15, 2017

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A harmonious urban village habitat

A footpath is being built along a narrow river in Zhenru Town. On the other side, a section of wall has been torn down to make way for the waterfront thoroughfare. Hence the residential quarter behind is no longer enclosed but integrates itself with the riverside scenery.

In the future, fences and access control systems will replace the wall to keep residents and their homes safe on the one hand but also enable them free access along the Chaoyang River on the other, according to neighborhood officials Yinghuayuan or literally “Cherry Blossom Garden.”

The demolished wall previously locked the riverbank to the north of the neighborhood, like many other businesses and residential quarters in the vicinity, it divided the riverbank into unconnected sections.

Unblocking the access along the banks of the Chaoyang River has been put on the agenda of Putuo government, particularly when the district authority has taken part in a citywide campaign to purify local river courses and kick off an urban renewal project to improve environmental wellness.

“The fulfillment process is not easy but it won wide support among Yinghuayuan residents,” said Huang Jia, vice director of Zhenru Town Subdistrict Office. “First of all, the section of the future riverside footpath, to the north of Yinghuayuan, will be built on the ground which was previously part of the residential quarter. It is more than just breaking the wall.”

Moreover, the former bicycle parking lot along the wall was also demolished, the official revealed.

Walls come tumbling down

Workers took just one night to tear the wall and parking lot down to make way for the new construction work but few understood that Yinghuayuan residents had prepared for two months.

“As the construction involves the bicycle parking lot, a small piece of land and a section of wall, it is about the overall interest of our own. Some people were not willing to help so I told them it was an ‘all for one and one for all’ project that will benefit everyone,” said a neighborhood official with Yinghuayuan. The plan received 95 percent of support in the first round of the vote and later got almost everyone’s approval.

After that, the neighborhood officials mobilized Party members and volunteers among the residents to find new places at Yinghuayuan for bicycle parking and helped empty the former parking lot. Charging sockets were also installed at the temporary site for the convenience of e-bike users.

Everything was well prepared before construction workers moved in and kicked off the engineering.

An entirely new unmanned bicycle parking lot is being built with a rooftop garden. Surveillance cameras and access control system will replace janitors for security concerns, while the garden rooftop will provide Yinghuayuan residents another nice place to enjoy and socialize.

The support of residents and sponsorship from government makes the project a win-win situation for both sides.

Zhenru vice director Huang told Shanghai Daily that the walls of Yinghuayuan and neighboring blocks will feature paintings of traditional Chinese herbs and medical scientists to echo the Baicao Garden, a bridge away in the campus of Tongchuan School. Baicao in Chinese literally means all the herbs.

Herb garden

Students and residents plant and pick a variety of herbs themselves at the Baicao Garden. Teachers from Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine impart them knowledge of TCM and herb gardening regularly.

The fragrance of herbs and a well-furnished footpath, as well as the clear river, will turn the neighborhood into one of the most livable in Putuo.

Yinghuayuan is also among the first in Putuo to practice garbage sorting. Rubbish is divided into four categories, including kitchen residue and dry refuse. This makes Yinghuayuan a model in Putuo for development of sanitation.

A drainage system under construction to separate rain water and sewage will further improve the environment. Above the pipes is a new cement pavement, which makes the entire residential quarter clean and tidy.

A senior volunteer, surnamed Meng, said she was very satisfied with everything that has happened and expressed her many thanks to grassroots cadres. Meng’s neighbor and close friend, Pan, said she planned to invite more elderly people to join her dance at the future rooftop garden or beside the Chaoyang River.

Yinghuayuan epitomizes the development of residential quarters in Putuo in its three-year “one heart, one community” campaign to improve residential environment and advocate self-governance at grassroots.

Not far away, office buildings, shopping malls, energy-saving apartments, amusement facilities and public green space will rise on the rubbles of the demolished Hongqi Village — previously the biggest run-down urban settlement in Shanghai.

The nearby seafood market on Tongchuan Road has also been shut down.

Metro Lines 11 and 14 pass through the piece of land, while more than 1,000 meters of waterway converges to make the area an ideal place to become a transport and commercial hub. Urban planner has mapped out a bright future for the area and Yinghuayuan plays as a part.


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