Huangbaiyu The Project

the facts...continued

Throughout CUCSD meetings these four criteria were held as necessary to ensure that the project would be scalable. A Joint Team from the CUCSD, comprised of Russell Perry, AIA, (then) Managing Partner of William McDonough + Partners, Professor Peng Zhenwei, Vice Director of Tongji University’s Urban Planning Department, and Wang Miansheng of the US Secretariat visited 7 of the ten proposed sites.

Due to the presence of Dai Xiaolong, a local entrepreneur who was also serving as the director of the Village Committee, Huangbaiyu easily met criteria 3 and 4. Being only some 7 kilometers from an arterial expressway connecting the Liaodong peninsula with the capital of Shenyang, Huangbaiyu was only an 1.5-2 hour drive from an international airport, fulfilling criterion 2. According to the township government, Huangbaiyu is a second-grade village according to economic standards, making it neither poor (grade 3) nor rich (grade 1).  And, as Wang is fond of noting, it is a “beautiful location.” 

At the time of Huangbaiyu’s designation in 2003 as the village site, three general demands or standards were set for the project, according to the local government Coordinating Council for the project:

1. “To build a single centralized community, optimizing the natural resources of the land; that is to say that all resident households will move into a single plan, creating a community.” 

2. “The newly constructed houses in the community should use locally sourced, renewable construction materials, so as to ensure that the new homes are of the best environmentally protective, green, energy saving capacity.”

3. “All production materials and energy supplies should be sustainable.”

In the words accompanying Bill McDonough’s final “Master Plan” for Huangbaiyu, the project is conceived as a way for the village to resituate itself within the triad of sustainable development: “Responding to new opportunities and circumstances, Huangbaiyu Village has a unique opportunity to redefine itself economically, socially and environmentally.” 

By February 2003, Russell Perry, Peng Zhenwei, Wang Miansheng, and Dr. Peng Sizhen of China’s Administrative Center for Agenda 21, visited Benxi to meet with local officials to finalize the parameters of the project. Less than two months after the site proposals were submitted through government channels, Bill McDonough and Russ Perry had already begun work on the Master Plan to redesign Huangbaiyu.

In July and August of 2003, Russ Perry and Wang Miansheng, in cooperation with the Village Committee held meetings to review and suggest alterations to the Master Plan.  Despite this quick early action, translating the design of the Master Plan into development of a physical space took an additional two years.  As one member of the US Secretariat put it, “It took two years to break through the wall of bureaucracy and build a circle of trust.” 

In official Chinese documentation of the creation of Master Plan, it is said to be designed in accordance with “taking people as the foundation, in all respects from a harmonious sustainable development outlook, adhering to the philosophy of “Cradle-to-Cradle.”  The Master Plan for the new sustainable demonstration community of Huangbaiyu includes, among other structures, 400 centralized, contiguous houses, a remodeled school, a biomass gasification plant for heating and cooking energy supply, and a lake; the plan includes the use of renewable energy, a community water system, closed loop material and waste flows, and habitat and agricultural enhancement. Read more...

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