Not just “Better City, Better Life”: Creating sustainable urban legacy beyond World Expo 2010 in Shanghai

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeChapterScientificpeer-review


Event-led urban development or event-led regeneration has become part of a deliberate urban policy to position the host cities on the world agenda. Most cities stressed exploring the re-imaging effect of these mega-events, like the construction of iconic flagship projects or large-scale facilities and infrastructures. However, many expo host cities have mainly focused on the preparation of the event sites but often have limited strategic intervention to benefit urban development beyond the event site. Besides, expo sites, especially those located in the periphery of the host cities, encountered various challenges during their transition process to grow into part of urban fabric of host cities. In recent years, creating urban legacy has gradually become the focus of event-led development or regeneration. Shanghai, the host city of World Expo 2010, used the motto “better city, better life” to emphasize the concept of “city of harmony” and to promote the sustainable development of the city. The event self is considered one of the most successful world expo event, attracting more than 200 nations and organizations to participate and more than 73 million visitors to visit the expo. But to what extent has Shanghai built its sustainable urban legacy? This paper suggests that Shanghai has created four important post-event legacies in relation to its host city. First, Shanghai used expo event to realise its important urban restructuring process, serving as the catalyst for a number of strategic regeneration projects to improve the quality of space and urban life for citizens. Second, the focus of sustainability and legacy creation in event preparation allowed new planning concepts, new planning methods and new technology to be applied to local planning regime. Third, the city paid special attention to the citizens living in the city. Such focus ensured a more people-centred approach and support increasing public participation during the event preparation, relocation and post-event development. Four, expo served as a catalyst for the regional integration of the Yangtze River Delta (YRD), aiming at the long-term benefit for Shanghai and its surrounding cities in economic and social perspectives. 
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationExpo Cities Urban Change (Bulletin 2018)
Place of PublicationParis
PublisherBureau International des Expositions
ISBN (Print)978-2-9558188-2-4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • expo cities
  • legacy
  • Shanghai

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