2 October 2010

Beichuan town – the old and the new

Posted by Dave Petley

On Wednesday I was fortunate to be able to return to Beichuan (see my images of the town, taken last year), the heart of the earthquake-affected areas in Sichuan.  Well, to be more accurate I visited the viewpoint looking down on the town.  It is clear that debris flows continue to be a major problem at this site:

For those who don’t know the site I have annotated the image below to point out the key features:

Meanwhile, about 25 km away on the plain the new town of Beichuan, replacing the settlement above, which will be preserved as seen, is almost complete.  We called in on the way through – it is an astonishing place.  This has been constructed at a cost of 15 billion Yuan (US$2 billion), of which just under 10 billion Yuan has been spent to date.  It will ultimately be the home of 70,000 people, and the administrative headquarters of Beichuan County. These images show the new town in the week of hand-over.  First an aspiration as to what it should look like, according to a billboard at the site.  Note the western brands (Calvin Klein, McDonald’s):

Somehow these image feels a little sad.  Here is the reality of one of the many residential areas:

And here is one of the streets, which have been built with cycle lanes:

Pleasingly, there is a very strong attempt to retain a strong traditional sense to the architecture of the central parts of the town, as shown by this bridge across the river:

I hope this is a huge success – the people of Beichuan deserve it.