BY SILVI WRITER
White Peak, the largest European residential developer in China, has begun constructing in northern China’s populous Shandong province a unique Swedish-style community based on the renovation of Hammarby Sjostad, a smart eco-city in Stockholm, Sweden.
In addition to sustainable and environmental features, the Hammarby Eco City Yantai will also be a social community, in which over 15,000 “happy eco citizens trust each other”, said White Peak President Jesper Jos Olsson.
The project, which will integrate Swedish expertise with China’s digital system, will show the company’s effort to help China find a better way for the future of its urban districts, Olsson said in an address to the Nordic China Smart City Conference 2019.
The event is the third in the series of highly successful conferences focusing on the Nordic opportunities within the fast-growing Chinese urban development market. Its aim is to promote cooperation, exchange of experiences and businesses between the Nordics and China, especially relating to the urban environment, health and well-being.
On the event, White Peak has signed with two Swedish companies, Sweco International AB, a world-class planning and engineering consultancy, and Envac AB, a waste management solution provider, MOUs, agreeing to provide the Yantai project the same services they had for Hammarby Sjostad.
“The exciting thing is to build communities where people are happier and trust each other,” Olsson said, referring to the Hammarby Eco City Yantai, a 4.6-sq-km large project that sits in the center of Shandong’s coastal city of Yantai.
What makes the project unique, according to Olsson, is the incorporation of a “social KPI”, of which trust between its inhabitants is a key.
“This is something that hasn’t been talked about anywhere in the world in urban development. That is something we are working very hard on,” Olsson said.
His vision is people live in the Hammarby Eco City Yantai, the city’s first “real environmental, eco community”, should be happier and trust each other more, compared to those of other communities.
White Peak, in other words, is trying to find a solution for the “global problem of happiness decreasing with urbanization”.
To achieve this goal, the developer, financed by Sweden’s pension funds, is “bringing in Swedish expertise in technology and urban design” to improve the energy, resource and material efficiency.
“What is very interesting is we are also bringing in Chinese digital system into this urban development,” Olsson said, noting “the largest part” is building a digital eco-system, in addition to creating meeting spaces through physical design.
“Basically, we are connecting people in the community through technology, getting them to share, and work together,” he added, and shared White Peak’s business vision of building smarter, connected and green communities.
Sweco International AB, an engineering consultancy headquartered in Stockholm, is responsible for the planning and design of the project. The initial phase, including two land parcels White Peak acquired in December 2018, will be developed into around 2000 homes, an ice hockey arena, as well as office and retail facilities.
In addition, Envac AB, one of the most innovative players in the global waste collection industry and inventor of the pneumatic waste collection system, will provide waste management solution to White Peak’s Yantai Hammarby Eco City project, same as Hammarby Sjostad.
Sitting in the southeastern part of Stockholm, Hammarby Sjostad was in the 1990s known as a rundown industrial and residential area. After years of re-development, it is now one of Stockholm’s most pleasant residential districts and one of the world’s most successful urban renewal districts.
Olsson said the key for Swedish developers is adopting a “balanced approach”, of which environmental protection is equally important with returns, in investment.
“Sweden is a leader in ESG and sustainability. The way you get land in Sweden is proving you can be sustainable. This is something we have brought to China,” he said.
Embarking on its China journey from Shandong 14 years ago, White Peak is now in 10 Chinese cities. It has developed more than 20 projects and built more than 2 million square meters of properties.
A widely recognized frontrunner in sustainability, White Peak ranked the top among all non-listed real estate investment entities in China for the third consecutive year in 2018 GRESB annual assessments.