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Shannon: The Latest Architecture and News

Shan-Zhen: How a Small Irish Town Influenced the Mega-City Shenzhen

04:00 - 26 January, 2016
Shan-Zhen: How a Small Irish Town Influenced the Mega-City Shenzhen, Aerial photograph of Shannon Airport (1959) set within its rural context. Image Courtesy of Shannon Group plc
Aerial photograph of Shannon Airport (1959) set within its rural context. Image Courtesy of Shannon Group plc

At the dawn of the age of transatlantic commercial aviation, Shannon, a small town on the west coast of Ireland, was thrust into the spotlight. By 1959 it had been developed as the world’s first Free Trade Zone and New Town, providing a new—and persistent—business model for US multinationals seeking cheaper ways to operate in Europe. On the other side of the world, China was beginning to develop its urbanisation policy and was interested in how Shannon had successfully decentralised its administration from Dublin. After many visits in the early 1980s by Chinese leaders to study this model, under the direction of Deng Xiaoping, the Shannon planning system was used as a template in the formation of Shenzhen and has since been rolled across China.

New Horizon_architecture from Ireland is the flagship exhibition programme for Irish architecture and the built environment as part of Irish Design 2015. Shan-Zhen was first presented at the Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture in 2015.