Deputy Director-General Lan Zhengqiu 兰正秋 (Chengdu Urban Planning and Natural Resources Bureau), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
It's my great pleasure to be here at the 7th Chengdu Creativity & Design Week. In the four years that I’ve lived in Chengdu, I’ve seen how the Creativity & Design Week has grown from strength to strength.
This year, as the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, providing solutions that embody the best of creativity, innovation and design is even more important and pertinent in our lives than ever.
Australia is delighted to be part of the Creativity & Design Week, in which we have actively participated over the years. I was honoured to accept the 2017 award for the e-motion clothing designed by UNSW Art & Design graduate Lillian Hambling; and I am proud of the three Australian architects who won various Awards.
Today, I’d like highlight Australia’s strong capabilities in architecture and urban planning, and our partnerships with China especially Chengdu.
Australian cities and Chengdu share an important characteristic: liveability.
Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, Sichuan’s sister state, has been named the world’s most liveable city by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) not once, but for seven consecutive years.
There has been in fact three to four Australia cities in the top 10 EIU Global Liveability Ranking over the past nine years, including Sydney, Adelaide and Perth.
Liveable cities do not just serve the essential functions of life. Liveable cities should not just be mechanical layouts that enable its citizens to carry out their lives in a healthy, convenient, and time and energy efficient manner, important as these elements are.
A truly liveable city also has its own soul, authentic identity, distinct history, and unmistakeable vibe that connect and nourishes people. Liveable cities are labours of love, caring, as well as of design and vision.
I have been lucky to live in Chengdu, arguably China’s most liveable city. It is a city that is embodies many of these qualities and continues on a liveable and sustainable path. It is no wonder that over a quarter of a million new residents move into Chengdu last year.
Chengdu’s Tianfu New Area which I often visit seeks to balance economic growth, eco-environment preservation, and people’s needs.
Chengdu’s Park City Initiative is another good example. Chengdu plans to build an equivalent of 16,900 km of green ways penetrating through the city by 2035, the longest in the world.
As Chengdu’s population and economic growth continue, there needs to be greater focus on future-proofing the city through planning and ensuring a high-quality and sustainable built environment. The delivery of quality, innovative and green design is integral to maintaining the city’s liveability. And Australian architecture and urban planning expertise can be part of the solution.
As Australian Consul-General for Southwest China, I am delighted to see Australian architecture firms contributing directly to environmentally and culturally sensitive projects in this region.
One of Chengdu’s most impressive urban design projects, Lux Lakes, involved John Wardle Architects, who designed an apartment complex that seamlessly integrated with the surrounding natural elements, provide quick access to transport networks, provide sanctuary from Chengdu’s city centre.
In the heart of Chengdu at the IFS complex, you can’t miss a giant panda climbing to the top building. This sculpture is a work of Australian architect Lawrence Argent, who studied in the same architecture school as I did.
BAU, one of the Australian architecture firms participating this year’s Creativity & Design Week, is designing a park network for Chengdu East City Extension project. This design embraces existing villages with the tree-lined lanes, water features and recreational facilities. Importantly, it pays due respect to local culture and identity.
The other participating firm of this year from Australia is Woods Bagot, who is exhibiting its landmark project this time – the 431 metres “Chongqing Tower”, designed to mirror the flow of the upper Yangtze River.
I am excited to let you know that a new popular must-see sport is about to born in Dujiangyan. This is a “Selfie-Panda” artwork made by the world-renowned talented designer of the giant yellow duck – Dutch artist Florentijn Hoffman in cooperation with Australia’s UAP Art Design company.
These are only some examples. The strength and success of the partnership between Australian and Chinese architecture will be celebrated in our upcoming exhibition ‘Living in the City: Australia–China Conversations through Architecture’.
Developed online during times of Covid-19, this exhibition will take the audiences on a journey through 30 compelling architectural projects across the two countries, including some of the projects in Chengdu as I mentioned just now. The projects are presented in pairs between Australia and China, highlighting design and development issues that affect us all.
Key topics include negotiating the relationship between density and amenity, the need for mixed-use urbanism for growing cities, and ensuring community benefit in the way we inclusively and successfully design our environments.
I hope you can look out for it, and join us in this conversation through architecture.
Ladies and gentlemen, good architecture provides a safe and efficient space for people to live, work and play in. Additionally, it should reflect people’s aesthetics, culture, and history.
The best architecture endures, and expresses a people’s hopes, aspirations and their place in the world. And the most liveable cities – whether it be Chengdu, Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide or Perth – call out to you and says “you too can live here and be part of this”.
In closing, I wish this year’s Chengdu Creativity and Design Week every success, and I hope today’s forum would further deepen our cooperation in to create better liveable cities. Thank you.