From heavy metal to gold medal as­pi­ra­tions

China Daily (Canada) - - ANALYSIS -


A dis­used com­plex in Bei­jing that once housed a ma­jor steel maker has been trans­formed into a hub for or­ga­niz­ers of the 2022 Win­ter Olympics.

With its aban­doned fur­naces and smoke­stacks, the for­mer Shougang Group site, about 20 kilo­me­ters west of down­town, still evokes memories of the cap­i­tal’s long in­dus­trial his­tory.

Yet af­ter ex­ten­sive ren­o­va­tions to turn si­los and ware­houses into of­fices, the com­plex’s west­ern sec­tion is again buzzing with ac­tiv­ity, with 160 em­ploy­ees of the Bei­jing Or­ga­niz­ing Com­mit­tee of the 2022 Olympic and Par­a­lympic Win­ter Games busy pre­par­ing for the sport­ing ex­trav­a­ganza.

The re­lo­ca­tion to the old fac­tory, which started last month, comes af­ter Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping called for a fru­gal and sus­tain­able ap­proach to host­ing the Games, which is in line with the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee’s pro­posal to cut bid­ding and or­ga­niz­ing costs for hosts.

“Re­set­tling the com­mit­tee here makes the most out of the old in­dus­trial site while im­ple­ment­ing Bei­jing’s vow to pre­pare for and host the Games in a sus­tain­able and eco­nomic way,” said Guo Huaigang, di­rec­tor of the com­mit­tee’s sec­re­tar­ial and ad­min­is­tra­tive de­part­ment.

Bei­jing and Zhangji­akou, in neigh­bor­ing He­bei prov­ince, were named as hosts of the 2022 Win­ter Olympics in July.

While the ex­te­ri­ors of the steel plant’s struc­tures re­main rel­a­tively un­changed, in­side they have un­der­gone a se­ries of low-car­bon re­fur­bish­ments, in­clud­ing be­ing fit­ted with so­lar-charged light­ing and rain­wa­ter re­cy­cling, as well as func­tional in­te­rior dec­o­ra­tion.

Guo said the whole process should be com­pleted in Fe­bru­ary, when up to 1,000 work­ers from about 30 com­mit­tee de­part­ments are ex­pected to move into the com­plex.

Shougang Group be­gan re­lo­cat­ing from the site in 2005, as part of mea­sures to re­duce air pol­lu­tion in the run-up to the 2008 Bei­jing Sum­mer Olympics.

Over the next five years the steel com­pany grad­u­ally moved its en­tire op­er­a­tions to Caofei­d­ian district in He­bei, 220 km east of down­town Bei­jing.

Af­ter shut­ter­ing its plant in the cap­i­tal in 2010, the Sta­te­owned en­ter­prise came up with plans to re­vi­tal­ize the site, such as by open­ing an in­dus­trial park to in­cu­bate the cul­tural and creative sec­tors and ur­ban ser­vices sec­tor.

Liang Zong­ping, the board di­rec­tor of Shougang Group, said re­set­tling the 2022 Olympics or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee was an ideal op­por­tu­nity for the com­pany to im­ple­ment its am­bi­tions for a busi­ness up­grade.

“The last time Bei­jing hosted the Olympics we made a sac­ri­fice (to re­lo­cate),” he said.

“This time has pro­pelled us to re­form our out­moded in­dus­try while de­vel­op­ing new busi­ness with a new drive.”

The steel com­pany, which owns the prop­erty, has also be­gun plan­ning for af­ter the 2022 Games, when it hopes the site will be used for win­ter sports ac­tiv­i­ties and re­lated service sec­tors.

De­spite the grand plans, how­ever, con­cerns over the en­vi­ron­men­tal safety of for­mer in­dus­trial sites and the lack of trans­porta­tion links with down­town and res­i­den­tial ar­eas re­main chal­lenges.

Ac­cord­ing to the Bei­jing city gov­ern­ment’s ur­ban devel­op­ment plan, at least two new sub­ways will be built to con­nect the site with other ar­eas. One line was re­ported to open next year but no spe­cific time frame has been set.

On the mat­ter of health and safety, Liang added that all for­mer in­dus­trial sites that are re­fur­bished and re-pur­posed must pass third-party en­vi­ron­men­tal assess­ments to en­sure they are safe to use.

Yang Bao­jun, di­rec­tor of the China Academy of Ur­ban Plan­ning and De­sign, said he feels that re­set­tling the com­mit­tee in the old Shougang plant pro­vides the city and the com­pany with an op­por­tu­nity to di­ver­sify the post-in­dus­try devel­op­ment of the re­gion.

“By hous­ing the 2022 or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee, the com­plex can evolve into a breed­ing ground for a fledg­ing service sec­tor,” he said. “The Games head­quar­ters should en­cour­age the city gov­ern­ment to im­prove the ur­ban in­fra­struc­ture and pub­lic trans­porta­tion fa­cil­i­ties there, which would ben­e­fit the area by lur­ing new com­pa­nies and cre­at­ing jobs.”

On top of the large in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ment needed to pre­pare for the Games, pru­dent plan­ning can also help host cities to lever­age sup­port re­sources to boost less-de­vel­oped re­gions.

Liu Yu­min, ex­ec­u­tive deputy di­rec­tor of plan­ning, con­struc­tion and sus­tain­abil­ity for the Bei­jing or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee, en­vi­sions that the Chi­nese cap­i­tal’s west end will en­joy a sim­i­lar boost.

“The city has em­braced a sec­ond chance to ben­e­fit from host­ing the Olympics,” he said.

The city (Bei­jing) has em­braced a sec­ond chance to ben­e­fit from host­ing the Olympics.”

ex­ec­u­tive deputy di­rec­tor of plan­ning, con­struc­tion and sus­tain­abil­ity for the Bei­jing or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee


Shougang Group site in Bei­jing has been trans­formed into a hub for or­ga­niz­ers of the 2022 Win­ter Olympics.

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