Science - January 13, 2005

Alterra designs theme park for China

Alterra has designed a park for recreation and education for the Wujin polder near the Chinese town of Changzhou. The exhibits will include a section on the commercial production of mushrooms, tortoises, bonsai trees, crabs and oysters.

Alterra headed a consortium, which included A&F, the Dutch engineering company Grontmij and innovation specialist KnowHouse, that has developed the master plan for the park. The target group is urban dwellers of whom there are almost one hundred million within a radius of 200 kilometres of the future park. Part of the park will be devoted to agricultural production, where for example mushrooms will be grown using compost from pig manure, and the CO2 produced will be reused in floating greenhouses. The farming sections will form the educational part of a larger park that will also contain a recreational lake within an area of small lakes, two polders with typically Dutch landscapes, a replica of a Dutch village and a marina.

One of the project leaders, Madeleine van Mansfeld, believes that the idea of an agro-production park as a new sort of mixed farm is likely to be successful in China. While the idea has not really been picked up in the Netherlands, in China there are still many farmers that practise mixed farming. According to Mansfeld the park will also fulfil Chinese recreation requirements; the Chinese enjoy spending time in attractively laid out theme parks where they can also learn something.

Account manager Bert Harms also mentions that the project is unique in that the Chinese government has paid for the entire amount of foreign input in the project. In the first phase this only amounted to 120,000 euros, but Harms expects later phases to bring in more. He also thinks that similar projects can be set up in other areas of China, with agro-parks that are specifically oriented towards different climatic conditions. / MW

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