How To Create A City’s Brand Value? Bhubaneswar Can Take A Cue From Hangzhou

Today is World Tourism Day, a day that reminds us how far Bhubaneswar has travelled across the globe. It’s still an unknown destination globally despite international connectivity as well as being the host of consecutive Men’s Hockey World Cup and a score of sites that could have added value to Bhubaneswar’s presence in world tourism. Perhaps its biggest disadvantage is Brand Value.

On the other side, 100 Smart Cities have been in the process of making since 2016 in India, and so do 100 Smart Town District Centres, each believed to be 1000 acres at the heart of existing cities. This means that by now, we should at least have 10 cities at par with the Olympic or Asian Games Village sites ready to host the Olympics or Asian Games etc. but we don’t have them. What went wrong?

Now let’s look at Hangzhou, a city in eastern China. Though full of history, similar to Bhubaneswar it was unknown to the world until 2018. In four years, the authorities made Hangzhou ready to host the Asian Games. It is now on the world map and has made its presence known globally.

Hangzhou Asian Games Park sites spanning 116 acres, include an expansive Eco Park and buildings. Bhubaneswar has 985 acres of land for a Smart District Centre and the journey still continues over seven years. Hangzhou’s initial purpose was to serve as a venue for the Hangzhou Asian Games 2022, but its vision modified far beyond this event, charting a new path for the city’s environmental future. The design aimed at rethinking Hangzhou’s ecological future. Following a “Sponge-City” landscape approach, the project established a hilly oasis intended for year-round recreational use. In fact, the oasis acts as a green lung, revitalising the local ecosystem. The efforts resulted in significant steel construction costs saved and a 20% reduction in construction time.

The project includes seven new environmentally friendly buildings, which were built into the layout for the Asian Games. After completing the games, the buildings will be converted into communal spaces. In addition, natural reserves, walking paths, water features, playgrounds, and varied landforms were designed. These features are designed using sustainable infrastructure, such as restoring wetlands, installing porous pavement, and integrating stormwater management techniques. The master plan’s concept included 64,000 sqm of green roofs, intended to remove 114,846 kg of carbon dioxide annually. It comes as part of the overall mission to transform Hangzhou into an international gateway city. It’s the third Asian Games held in China, after the 1990 Beijing Asian Games and the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games.

The Asian Games presents a historic opportunity for Hangzhou to enhance its urban planning, construction and governance, adding to its international image and influence. At the Hangzhou Asian Games 2022, taking place from September 23 to 8 October 2023, the park acts as a hub where spectators gather. Once the Games end, the masterplan is set to become a neighbourhood green space, with a mix of activities ranging from kayaking, running, hiking, and skateboarding. The masterplan scheme accommodates the city’s population and all age groups. This green space seamlessly integrates into Hangzhou’s existing urban fabric and infrastructure, providing greenery to the crowded city.

The plan puts in place two sports arenas, the Field Hockey Stadium, and the Hybrid Table Tennis Stadium, at opposite ends of the one-mile site. The park is divided by a road and a river, and to bridge the gap between these two segments, a concept known as ‘Valley Village’ was conceived. This idea is a vital link between the park’s two halves, creating a social access route.

Additionally, the Valley Village Mall is envisioned as a sunken green valley adorned with circular glass shopping pavilions. On either side of the shopping area, two parking garages are interconnected underground to facilitate delivery access. The Village Valley Mall features shops, eateries, coffee shops, stalls, and open-air communal spaces, establishing it as the vibrant heart of the park. In fact, each individual store pavilion is crowned with green roofs, improving water retention, and expanding the overall green landscape. These green roofs also provide spaces for visitors to unwind, picnic, and immerse themselves in the natural surroundings.

Excavating the wetlands and the Valley Village to connect the two halves of the park made it possible to transform the formerly flat site into a landscape that now rises more than 20m above grade without adding additional soil. Following a “zero-earth” strategy to reduce the environmental impact of soil removal, several of these new hills operate as natural preserves, promoting biodiversity. Beneath the landscape, all the buildings and stadiums are connected by a 68,000 sqm network of underground passageways, a theatre, and parking spaces.

Finally, the design embraces the Sponge City concept, integrating a network of water features that improve the site’s hydrology and introduce recreational opportunities. For example, an artificial river runs through the area alongside the Village Valley as an aqueduct. This river also plays a vital role in the wetland systems, effectively managing stormwater runoff and counterbalancing the impact of new construction. Additionally, it serves as a kayaking route and adds a picturesque element, complemented by the nearby hills and the Village Valley Mall. Within the river, islands have been incorporated to create a swifter current, naturally purifying the water and increasing its oxygen levels.

The 65 venues have achieved 100 percent green power supply. At the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Aquatic Sports Arena, an intelligent light-guiding system introduced natural light into the hall through 210 light-guiding tubes on the roof, which will save 100,000 kWh of electricity every year.

The opening ceremony saw zero fireworks with three-dimensional animation and AR technology used to display gorgeous electronic fireworks to audiences. Hangzhou’s first autonomous driving bus was introduced as the route covers 12 kilometers near Qiantang Roller Skating Center, the venue for the roller skating and skateboarding events.

Imagine the future. 83 languages are provided by 55 translation machines. The translators will identify languages and translate in real time through AI, to ensure smooth communication among foreign participants.

In short, Bhubaneswar hosted the Men’s Hockey World Cup consecutively but in 2018 its name inside the stadium remained blank, and in 2023, it found its due place. It ultimately boils down to promoting the Brand Value of a city. And what better way than sports, which is a key promoter of a city’s Brand Value that also reflects in tourism.

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