Technology, artistry and environmental sensitivity.

Author:Gottschall, Marcia
Position:CHINA
 
FREE EXCERPT

This summer, just before we left upstate New York for six weeks at Zhejiang Wanli University (ZWU) in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, China, we landscaped our backyard. While in the past we would have seeded and nurtured our own lawn and laid our own walks, this time we paid to have the asphalt removed and the sod and rock trucked in and laid--our children and grandchildren were coming for a reunion, and we could afford it.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Once in Ningbo, we soon learned that the city is approaching development in much the same way we did in our backyard. It wants to impress others by its beauty, is in a hurry and has money. Over the last decade the city has trucked in thousands of nearly mature trees to replant along highways, boulevards and waterways, and in spacious parks and other newly created green spaces. In The Bund, the old river port area of this 2,000-year-old city, there is a newly planted forest, the trunks laced together with horizontal bamboo poles as support against a possible snowstorm or typhoon until it is securely rooted. In the countryside we saw many tree farms with large new houses, suggesting that urban reforestation projects are also a boon to local farmers who make more profit growing trees than rice.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Everywhere new high-rise apartment complexes, office buildings, banks, hotels, shopping centres and clinics are surrounded by green space. Several new apartment communities offer small garden plots, and Wal-Mart provides not just a good place to shop but a convenient air-conditioned spot for reading.

The same pattern was visible at ZWU itself. When we first arrived, our hosts--Jenny He, director of the International Office, and her assistant Betty Ren--asked us to comment on their campus, built and landscaped over the last ten years. Currently ZWU enrols more than 20,000 residential students and has more than 1,000 faculty. Many are housed in their own condos on campus amid elaborate gardens and architecturally dramatic buildings, including a library and a learning centre, which seem to float on a shared lake. Anyone would be impressed by a Sky Garden (what else could it be called?)--an open-air walkway spiralling up several storeys with shrubs and vines along the way, designed to afford a view of campus, surrounding city and distant mountains.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Jetlagged as we were, we told them that we were amazed that this campus, unlike...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP