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Guangzhou gets makeover before Asian Games


11:14 am
July 7, 2010



posts 215

Many old apartment buildings in south China's Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province are getting a new look as the city prepares to hold the Asian Games from Nov 12 to 27.

Buildings built decades ago often have flat roofs, which were always aggravating for those living on the top floor since the flat roof could hardly protect them from the heat during scorching summers in south China's Guangdong Province.

"The house is unbearably hot even with an electric fan on all day," said Xu Yan, who has been living in a top-floor apartment for nearly 40 years.

Also, because the building is so old, it leaks when it rains, said Xu.

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To project a better city image during the Asian Games, Guangzhou has been replacing about 1,000 old flat roofs with new red roofs made of synthetic resin since the end of 2009, according to the municipal Commission of Housing and Urban-Rural Development.

"With the sloping roof to keep the room cool, I now use my air conditioner three months shorter than before and the monthly electricity bill has decreased from 200 RMB (29.5 USD) to 90 yuan," said Xu.

Although the municipal government is paying for the bill, top-floor residents still have to live somewhere else for about two months before the new roof can be completely installed.

"If there is a household that opposed the project, their building's roof would not be changed," said Zhou Weidong with the commission.

"At first my family opposed the project, since moving was always troublesome, but we found the renovated building was, indeed, more comfortable," said Lu Weiming, a local resident.

There are some households who rejected the project at first, but later asked the commission to renovate their buildings after seeing the advantage of the new roof, said Zhou.

The new roof can be used for 25 years and the per square meter cost was 1,000 RMB, said Zhou.

Not all buildings with roof problems can receive new roofs for free though; only those along the streets are qualified since they are more visible to visitors during the games.

"Before a new roof is installed, an evaluation would be carried out to make sure the change will not jeopardize the building safety," said Li Guanxing, an engineer at Guangzhou Institute of Urban Construction, Development and Design.

Not just the roof was changed, the building was painted light yellow and new windows were installed as well, said Zhou.

Local building features were also considered while choosing the color of the roof. For instance, buildings in Liwan District were predominantly gray, therefore gray roofs were used instead of red ones.

Many residents complained about the project, since old windows were removed through which thieves can enter, and dozens of such complaints were filed each day with the municipal police, said Pi Wenjun in charge of construction at Zhuhai District, where 250 of the renovated buildings were located.

"So we asked the police to patrol around the building until the new roofs were installed. And complaints dropped," said Pi.

Guangzhou plans to invest a total of 7 billion RMB before the Asian Games to spruce up the city, including renovation of old buildings and roads, said Pi.

"Dirt roads were changed to cement roads and there are fewer rats and pests than before. And foul smelling corners where trash used to be dumped were replaced with flower beds and golden fish tanks," said Lu.

Some people believe the project is only about making the city look good in front of visitors when the big sports event kicks off.

Hou Yongshuan with the Commission of Housing and Urban-Rural Development said that the project was a cost-effective way to spiff up the city since reconstruction of the old buildings would cost 100 times more.


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