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ON THE HORIZON: Tianjin Haihe River Lighting Project, Finishing Touches
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Tianjin Haihe River Lighting Project:

Finishing Touches

By Richard J. Cook

BT 201608 210 03 On the horizon Haihe1One of Tianjin's most iconic attractions is its river - the Haihe, renowned as one of the most beautiful waterways in all of China. For centuries this critical river has overseen countless shifts of power, tales and mysteries, enough to keep one occupied for a lifetime. Furthermore, the Haihe was the prerequisite for our home - here in Tianjin and like countless other settlements across the globe it is the very artery that keeps the cultural beat and pace of this city going.

Along with China and Tianjin's rapid development, the Haihe began its waterfront regeneration in 2003 following the publication of the Tianjin Haihe Urban Design/Environmental Design Masterplan by the Tianjin Urban Planning and Design Institute. The plan itself was 10 years in making and initially included 19km of waterfront to be regenerated, sprucing the city up into a world-class waterfront city, complete with a whole range of open public spaces and promenades. Investment for the project back then had a price tag of $22 billion (USD) and has since received extra top ups, with additional projects being put in place, one of which was a vast waterfront lighting plan, which has come to iconize Tianjin's beauty in this modern era.

A World Class Waterway

BT 201608 210 04 On the horizon haihe2The lighting project is reaching its final stages and is also one of the final implementation phases of the original 2003 Tianjin Haihe Urban design/Environmental Design Masterplan. This final lighting stage is but a segment of a vast 25km lighting project that starts around the Tianjin Eye and works its way downstream and is set to complete Tianjin's own unique urban nightscape. Under the focus at the moment is a small section of the river ranging from Da Guang Ming Bridge to the Liu Zhuang Bridge, which has seen some spectacular development in terms of residential, office and cultural zones of late.

The general idea behind the project is to further personify Tianjin's great renaissance like atmosphere, drawing from its rich multipolar cultural hotspots. The predominant cultural factor however, is taken from the Italian style town at the very heart and soul of Tianjin's exotic internationalized theme. Lighting up the waterways in a Venice-esque fashion will intensify the artistic feel of the city, however the approach is not totally Eurocentric in design. Further, additional factors on the project will display traditional Chinese flare, delivering a tantalizing taste of when East meets West.

Furthering of this regeneration program is also aimed at reallocating and 'greenifying' existing lighting structures from the original development back in 2003. With rapid development and rapid redevelopment of residential zones through the course of the Haihe in Tianjin, some lighting structures have intensified glow contributing to light pollution in some isolated places. It is expected to be rectified by repositioning and upgrading certain electrical components to newer more green lighting apparatuses so that this sometimes-problematic glow can be reduced. In addition to this, other aging lighting structures can also be replaced during the overhaul. It is expected that once the project is complete, a 98% operational target can be met.

Lighting up Tianjin's Tourism Drive

The new lighting project is expected to highlight and intensify aspects of Tianjin's tourism industry, which has made remarkable leaps and bounds year after year.

BT 201608 210 02 On the horizon tianjin eyeIn 2014 the Tianjin statistical yearbook stated that Tianjin received 2.96 million tourists, up by 11.9% on the previous year, whilst tourists spent 2.992 billion $ (USD). According to China National Tourism Administration, Tianjin is currently ranked as the 19th most visited city by overseas tourists to China in 2014 and is expected to make quite a hike on the table once further figures are released for 2015. According to the overall scope China has seen a 4.6% increase in foreign tourism from the year 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 is expected to chart another significant increase.

At the apex of the national tourism strategy Tianjin is listed as been among the top 20 cities singled out for tourism excellence and is expected to further intensify Tianjin's tourism strategy in order to push the city to the forefront of this surging industry in China. Tianjin already has a range of spectacular tourist attractions, ranging from Binhai Aircraft carrier theme Park, the Tianjin Haichang Polar Ocean Park up to the Tianjin Eye as well as the Avenues, all of which have recent increases in tourism usage. So there are plenty of pickings to keep any person busy, irrespective of age, gender or taste.

The Haihe itself has seen many changes over Tianjin's 600 year history and has been core to Tianjin's purpose in the past while being significant for Tianjin's future. As the main artery for Tianjin's economic hub, the Haihe is being revitalized like never before, catering for several market sectors simultaneously.

Waterfront enhancement has always been a fantastic catalyst for spurring on urban regeneration projects. For Tianjin it has proven to be one of the most successful policies and is now set to continue downstream in Binhai with several river upgrade projects announced this year. The South Bay Project as well as the Tianjin Sino-Singapore Ecological them Park are both schemes, which wish to bandwagon to a certain degree from this policy success.

Whether or not the city is a designated economic hub or a tranquil cultural hotspot the artery of a city's life runs through the course of its river.

Water is life and to this effect cherishing and beautifying waterways is just one of many formulas for highlighting its importance, something that China has become very good at doing.


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