Zhujiang New Town is home to the new Central Business District of Guangzhou where some of the tallest skyscrapers in the world are being build. Up to about 10 years ago, this was just an agricultural area but now it is transformed into one of the most impressive business districts in the world with a lot of construction still going on. It has several extremely tall office buildings, a couple of community buildings, a shopping mall and an automated metro system with several stops across Zhujiang New Town.
The plan of creating a new Central Business District (CBD) in Guangzhou had been there for about 20 years but it never really kicked off. This changed when Guangzhou was assigned to host the Asian Games in 2010. This was a good opportunity for Guangzhou to showcase the city to a broad audience and caused the construction to be sped up. Haixinsha Island, which is south of the CBD, was the place where the opening and closing ceremony were held and a viewing stand was built here. The idea was to make the skyscrapers of the CBD and the newly built Canton Tower on the other side, be part of a spectacular light show to show Guangzhou off to the world.
International Finance Center
The International Finance Center (IFC) is currently the highest completed building of the CBD and is about 440 meters high. It shares its name with one of the highest buildings in Hong Kong which I already visited a couple of weeks ago. It’s a completely black building with the word IFC on the top. This building is always a good reference point when going around town and I can even see it from my apartment window. It’s next to some office buildings, one of which looks a lot like the One Peking Building in Hong Kong which I also visited.
This is one of the community buildings in the area and it has a very futuristic look to it. This seems like the kind of building you would see in a Batman movie. It was completed in 2010 at a cost of about $200 million. I would have liked to have a look inside but it’s only open to visitors of the opera. It feels like being in the future, when walking around the building.
This Island to the south of the CBD used to be property of the People’s Liberation Army, until Guangzhou’s government decided it had to be used for the Asian Games ceremonies. A viewing stand was built here to view the opening and closing ceremony. After the Games were finished, the stand was left relatively untouched and is a bit rusty here and there.
Maybe in the future this area will have a new purpose but for now its just a place to walk around and remember the Asian Games. It seems a little illogical to invest so much money in an area for just 2 ceremonies but this seems to be the trend all over the world with events like the Olympic Games or the World Cup Soccer.
With so many skyscrapers in the area it seems difficult to build a unique one, but the designers of The Pearl River Tower managed to do it. This tower is designed to be carbon neutral and it’s the most energy efficient skyscraper in the world. There are two holes in the center of the building which are used to collect wind energy and there are also many solar collectors throughout the building.
The initial plan was to build some turbines into the cellar of the building and sell energy to surrounding homes and offices. This was cancelled at the last moment because the power supplier didn’t allow energy to be sold back. It would have been completely carbon neutral otherwise, but now it’s not. What’s funny to note is that part of the Pearl River Tower, which is designed to be energy efficient and is all about sustainability, is in use by the China National Tobacco Corporation.
The Pinnacle is a building that didn’t yet exist during my last visit in Guangzhou. It’s funny to see these skyscrapers just popup like that, as if they’ve always been there. The designer must have been inspired by The Empire State Building in New York because it looks very similar. The antenna on top of the building reaches to a height of 360 meters.
Another one of the community buildings in the CBD is the Guangzhou Library, which has a total collection of 5.26 million books. It is open for everybody, free of charge and is a good place to relax and sit comfortably. It has been largely automated with several self service devices and free wifi is available throughout the whole building. The library was opened in June 2013 and still looks brand new. If you can’t read Chinese, you’re gonna have a hard time finding something to read here though, because there aren’t many English books.
Chow Tai Fook Centre
This building is currently still under construction but it will be the tallest building in this area with a height of 530 metres. I can see the top of this building from my apartment room and it’s great to be able to view the cranes in action throughout the day. It will be one of the highest buildings in the world and will be finished somewhere in 2016.
This tower would have been the highest building in Guangzhou if it wasn’t for the antenna on top of the Canton Tower. It’s going to be higher then the accessible area of the Canton Tower, though. This tower will consist out of offices, residential area and a hotel.
In 2010, the Guangdong Museum was completed and it’s located on the south end of the CBD. It’s free of entrance for everyone, as long as you bring your passport. There are several exhibitions on the history of the Guangdong province but I haven’t visited it yet so I couldn’t say if they are worth the time.
The whole CBD area is shaped in the form of a necklace and extends for about 1.6 kilometer from north to south. There are several park areas with little ponds and benches to rest on. One of the only older buildings that are still remaining is situated here, which is the office of the Agricultural Bank of China. It’s still an impressive building but looks a little outclassed with all of the tall skyscrapers surrounding it. It’s nice to see the older building style of Guangzhou as well around here, because most of the new buildings are designed by Western architects.
Throughout this area there are several entrances to the APM metro system, which makes the whole area very accessible. This metro line is only for the Zhujiang New Town CBD and covers the whole area with several stops along the way. There is also an underground shopping mall, Mall Of The World, with mostly restaurants.
The new CBD in Zhujiang New Town is an impressive place to be at and offers a perfect working environment to many employees. It also has different kinds of entertainment for people of all ages. There are cheap restaurants and parks to walk around at and the free library and museum are also worth a visit. Looking up at all the high skyscrapers makes you feel very tiny here and could make you a bit dizzy even. It’s great walking around here to see the rapid development going on and to be a witness of Guangzhou’s plan of becoming one of the greatest cities in the world.