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China Plans to Build New City to Deal With Overpopulation

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Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Beijing is one of the most crowded cities in the world—home to 24.9 million people in the metro areas. It's also one of the smoggiest, with some of the worst air quality in the world. In an effort to combat the city’s rapid growth (an average of 600,000 residents per year flocked to the city between 2000 and 2013) and the traffic congestion and pollution associated with it, China plans to build an entirely new city to take the pressure off its capital, Curbed reports.

The Chinese government recently announced a regional economic project called the Xiongan New Area, which will be a new metropolis built about 60 miles south of Beijing. According to China Daily, Beijing will remain the functional capital of China, but the new city will take over some of the general economic functions that have so far been concentrated within Beijing.

The idea is that some of Beijing’s industry and business will move to Xiongan, and with it, some of its population. With jobs no longer concentrated so densely in Beijing, people will be able to live closer to their work, giving them more transportation options and cutting down on air pollution.

Not that it’s necessarily going to happen that way. Planned cities don’t always work out as well as their spontaneously developed cousins. Many of the world’s greatest and most vibrant metropolises were created without any kind of central planning, while meticulously master-planned cities can come off as sterile and soulless. (Think of New York City’s cramped but bustling streets versus Washington D.C.’s grand boulevards.) As Adam Greenfield wrote in The Guardian in 2016, “Most of the planet’s newest cities bear a markedly strong resemblance to one another. Whether they happen to be planted on African terrain or Indian or Chinese, they have the self-contained, inward-turning flavor of a high-end condo, and indeed are branded and marketed in just the same way.”

But this isn’t China’s first time creating a major new city. After Shenzhen was named a Special Economic Zone in 1980, it went from a 300,000-person town to a major financial hub that’s now home to 11.9 million people.

Real estate speculators are betting on the same thing happening in Xiongan, though—a few days after the new city was announced, so many people rushed to buy property that the government instituted an emergency ban on sales.

[h/t Curbed]

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This Russian Kindergarten Looks Just Like a Castle
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A group of lucky kindergarteners in Russia don’t have to wear poufy dresses or plastic crowns to pretend they’re royalty. As Atlas Obscura reports, all they have to do is go to school.

In a rural area of Russia's Leninsky District sits a massive, pastel-colored schoolhouse that was built to resemble Germany's famed Neuschwanstein Castle. It has turrets and gingerbread-like moldings—and instead of a moat, the school offers its 150 students multiple playgrounds, a soccer field, a garden, and playhouses.

Tuition is 21,800 rubles (about $360) a month, but the Russian government subsidizes it to make it less expensive for parents. As for the curriculum: it’s designed to promote social optimism, and each month’s lesson plan is themed. (September, for example, will be career-focused.)

Take a video tour of the school below, or learn more on the school’s website.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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This Chinese Library's Interior Is Designed to Look Like an Infinite Tunnel of Books
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The Chinese city of Yangzhou is known for its graceful arched bridges and proximity to the Yangtze River and the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal. Architects kept these unique local features in mind while designing Zhongshuge Yangzhou, a new bookstore and library that was completed in 2016.

Designed by Shanghai studio XL-Muse Architects, the building has black, mirrored floors and arched ceilings that symbolize Yangzhou’s famous waterways and overpasses. The floor reflects the store’s curving shelves to create the illusion of a never-ending tunnel of books—a true bibliophile’s dream.

Learn more about Yangzhou’s unique library/bookstore below, courtesy of Great Big Story.

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