Situated on the west bank of Xiang River in the city of Changsha, this ambitious 2.45 km waterfront park aims to create a vibrant public domain that combines recreation, commerce, cultural and ecological restoration. The project stems from Changsha’s relationship with its main river over the city’s 3000 year history. The landscape is a medium, activating the adjacent new financial district and commercial development, and provides a contemporary promenade space in the new riverside district. The design proposes creative solutions for waterfront activation and celebrates the local culture through a variety of people orientated spaces. The new public domain has become a successful community catalyst to reconnect Changsha with Xiang River.
The ancient city of Changsha has been situated on the east bank of Xiang River for over 3000 years. The west bank expansion of the river has been a relatively new addition to the city of 7 million people. The river was historically a significant part of people’s lives and served as the lifeblood, however, it has also been the cause of many of the city’s flooding issues. Rapid urbanization over the recent decades had resulted in an ever diminishing relationship between the city’s residents and the river. The project aims to restore this connection through generating opportunities for recreational, commercial and cultural programs by drawing the adjacent financial and commercial districts to the river. Changsha Riverside Park is a landmark public domain project exemplifying the city’s aspirations to become a world-class metropolis.
Bounded by Tanshan Road to the North and Yinpenling Bridge, the 14 hectare linear site enjoys expansive vistas of the old city and includes five sections; River-front Walks, Civic Core, Docks, Promenade and Gateway Park.
The highlight of this section includes a functional wetland, elevated boardwalks, urban beach and a sculpture park. The wetland riparian zone and lower boardwalks also function as a tidal buffer and are designed to withstand seasonal flooding.
This zone serves as the focal point of the project, it is also within walking distance from the local metro station. In this section, adjacent developments are complimented by recreational programs containing urban sports courts and water play.
Catering for the growing needs of the existing boating club’s cruise operations, the re-designed docks further enhance waterfront recreation and integration with the new adjacent public domain.
The key access paths are designed for shared cycling and pedestrian use, activating the commercial and retail strip along the riverfront. Low maintenance permeable paving is used as part of the broader site wide WSUD (Water Sensitive Urban Design) strategy.
Situated underneath Yinpenling Bridge that connects the East and West banks, the park serves as the Southern entry point. The contemporary design is complimented with interpretive sign-age and public art. The team implemented three main strategies throughout the site to create vibrant waterfront experiences: promoting connections to the river, activating adjacent districts and conveying the site’s industrial heritage.
The existing bund wall creates a 7m barrier between the embankment and the riverfront space. The design responds to this condition through introducing multi-level activities along the wall. The lower levels contain water edge programs such as urban beaches, wetland boardwalks and piers. The mid-level zones include walkways and viewing steps, transiting to the upper level elevated walks. The design elements in the lower and mid-levels are designed to withstand 20 year and 100 year flood. Access to the riverfront domain is via a shared cycling and walking network which connects to all three levels and extends into the adjacent developments.
The west side of the Xiang River has traditionally lacked large scale urban public spaces despite having experienced recent urban development. This project fills this gap by enabling public recreation, art, events and resting spaces. Iconic elements such as sculptures, water play and an urban beach provide experiences that are unique in Changsha’s urban context and have consequently become very popular with visitors. In addition, the cruise and water activities dock seamlessly combine with waterfront restaurants to generate a memorable experience for tourists.
The site was once home to Yuxiang Cotten Mill and Changsha Shipyard. Both factories were essential to Changsha’s industrialization since the 1950s. The design team draws inspiration from these industries through sculpture and site structures. Embracing the traditional “Xiangxiu” technique (Hunan embroidery technique), the design team created a series of sculptures using these interwoven patterns in the public plazas whilst weathered steel panels, salvaged timbers and wharf-inspired furnishings provide allusions to the shipyard.
Project location: Western Bank Commercial Tourism Area, Binjiang New City, Changsha, China
Design year: 2016
Year Built: 2017