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The master plan for what has been called the world's first sustainable city—Dongtan, Chongming Island, in Shanghai, China—is perhaps the best known of the ecocity designs that swept professional and popular imaginations in the first decade of the 21st century. In late 2005, the investment arm of the Shanghai municipal government, the Shanghai Industrial Investment (Holdings) Co., Ltd. (SIIC), contracted with the U.K. design and engineering firm Arup to draw the strategic master plan for 86 square kilometers of land adjacent to a nationally protected migratory bird park. The signing of the agreement drew international accolades and led to the launch of a collaboration between industry and academia in the United Kingdom and China that was focused on sustainable cities. Controversy arose around two points: ...

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