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Chinese eco-village reported to be crumbling

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An eco-friendly model village in China hailed by officials as a model for environmentally friendly living is in danger of failing.

The Huangbaiyu scheme, near the northern city of Benxi, is the brainchild of American architect William McDonough and Partners (WMP).

Plans unveiled in 2005 and backed by Shanghai's Tong Ji University, the Benxi Design Institute and China-US Center for Sustainable Development, proposed the transformation of the existing hamlet into a 'model of ecologically balanced living'.

However, two years on, construction of the village's 400 houses is behind schedule and according to US webzine Newsweek, the 42 units that have been built have no heat, electricity or running water. Of those, 39 use compressed bricks of coal-dust - which has triggered a debate over whether the coal dust represents a health risk.

And, despite WMP's goal that the village should 'provide a higher quality of life for the villagers', it is reported that walls in the new houses are cracked, moisture is seeping through ceilings and the biomass gasification facility doesn't work.

It has also been reported that no one in the existing village has volunteered to move into the new community.

At the time of writing no one from WMP was available to comment.

by Max Thompson

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