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Design

Shanghai’s Grand Plan for Suburbia: Avoid Becoming Like L.A.

  • Five new satellite towns planned to ease city’s congestion
  • Planners warn of urban sprawl blighting other mega cities
Boats navigate the canals of the Zhujiajiao water village in Qingpu.
Boats navigate the canals of the Zhujiajiao water village in Qingpu.Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

The vast suburbs of Shanghai, with their large parks, lakes and famed waterways, have long served more as weekend retreats for city dwellers than desirable places to live. Now, in a bid to ease congestion downtown, the government wants to make these satellite cities desirable places to live in their own right.

One such suburb is Qingpu, with lies about an hour’s drive west of the metropolis and attracts day trippers due to its picturesque green spaces and the ancient water village of Zhujiajiao. Away from the picture-perfect old town, however, are swathes of drab residential and industrial buildings that the municipal government wants more people to move to.