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The Eco-City as Urban Technology: Perspectives on Caofeidian International Eco-City (China)


  • Simon Joss
  • Arthur P. Molella


Caofeidian International Eco-City, in North-East China, is among several large-scale new eco-city initiatives currently in development across Asia. Built from scratch across an area of 74 km-super-2, with an expected population of 800,000 by 2020, the city's plan boasts an abundance of urban sustainability features, from integrated public transport services and advanced water and waste recycling systems, to public parks and an extensive wetland area. This article uses the historical and conceptual perspective of "techno-city" to analyze the city's urban technology features. It highlights the relationship between the city and its hinterland, discusses the focus on science and technology driving the city's concept, and explores the international, modernist design language used. In doing so, the analysis points to several key tensions and contradictions at work, including a disconnect between the city's green technology focus and the high-carbon heavy industry of the surrounding area, and a lack of engagement with the local culture and community. Caofeidian Eco-City exhibits several features of twentieth-century techno-cities, although these are re-cast within the twenty-first-century context of global climate change policy and China's ongoing rapid urbanization processes.

Suggested Citation

  • Simon Joss & Arthur P. Molella, 2013. "The Eco-City as Urban Technology: Perspectives on Caofeidian International Eco-City (China)," Journal of Urban Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(1), pages 115-137, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:cjutxx:v:20:y:2013:i:1:p:115-137
    DOI: 10.1080/10630732.2012.735411

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    Cited by:

    1. Meg Holden & Charling Li & Ana Molina, 2015. "The Emergence and Spread of Ecourban Neighbourhoods around the World," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(9), pages 1-20, August.
    2. Federico Caprotti & Cecilia Springer & Nichola Harmer, 2015. "‘Eco’ For Whom? Envisioning Eco-urbanism in the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city, China," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(3), pages 495-517, May.
    3. repec:taf:cjutxx:v:24:y:2017:i:1:p:47-74 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Changjie Zhan & Martin de Jong, 2017. "Financing Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City: What Lessons Can Be Drawn for Other Large-Scale Sustainable City-Projects?," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(2), pages 1-17, February.
    5. Haiyan Lu & Martin de Jong & Yawei Chen, 2017. "Economic City Branding in China: the Multi-Level Governance of Municipal Self-Promotion in the Greater Pearl River Delta," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(4), pages 1-24, March.
    6. Yigitcanlar, Tan & Lee, Sang Ho, 2014. "Korean ubiquitous-eco-city: A smart-sustainable urban form or a branding hoax?," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 100-114.
    7. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:12:p:2311-:d:123073 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Martin de Jong & Helen Stout & Li Sun, 2017. "Seeing the People’s Republic of China through the Eyes of Montesquieu: Why Sino-European Collaboration on Eco City Development Suffers from European Misinterpretations of “Good Governance”," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(2), pages 1-14, February.

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