Hangzhou is one of China’s most prosperous and vibrant cities, highly urbanized and modern with strong ties to its cultural roots in silk and tea production. The city boasts two UNESCO World Heritage sites, and is particularly famous for the scenic West Lake, described as an “idealized fusion between humans and nature” by UNESCO. Both of these historical sites and their surrounding natural scenery form a major part of the city’s core and have put Hangzhou on the global stage. While these sites are beautiful and well maintained, local residences are lacking in private open spaces for residents to enjoy at their convenience. Years of rapid residential high-rise development in response to the rising population has left residents starved for open space to breathe, exercise, and engage with both people and nature.
Within walking distance of Hangzhou’s East High-Speed Train Station, Pengbu Central Commons is a residential development in the heart of Hangzhou with the unique opportunity to redefine urban living standards. Conveniently located atop a subway easement, the site requires a large area of the development to be dedicated to green open space. Through the use of buffer planting along the bordering riverfront and freeway, the easement offers the residential park a rare and large oasis of serene natural beauty that is protected and accessible to its residents.
By embracing the site’s context, the design framework aims to create a sense of well-connected community by implementing programs at multiple scales, unified through a cohesive design language derived from natural elements in Hangzhou’s native landscape. A large central core serves as an anchor to two community areas that branch off to the north and south, representing the lakes and hills of Hangzhou respectively. Large scale amenities are available at the core of the development, with smaller programmatic pockets located closer to the doorsteps of residents.
The central core of the site is an active open space that serves as an extension of the neighboring canal, drawing inspiration from the form of Hangzhou’s lakes and wetlands in the design of its pathways and gardens. As the main tenant of the core, the Central Lawn works as an iconic multi-functional space where visitors can exercise, play, and socialize in larger community groups. Residents can relax on the lawn and enjoy leisurely conversations with their neighbors, perhaps even using the amphitheater as a dynamic space to hold social events. Additional amenities encircle lawn, including basketball and tennis courts, children’s playgrounds, and jogging trails of varying length. Seasonal trees and structural shrub planting soften garden pathways and elicit an ethereal and soothing atmosphere. A water feature on an elevated plaza provides the natural sound of water, connecting residents to the adjacent river on the southern border of the site. The central core also features a lookout platform, providing views of the vibrant activity within Pengbu Central Commons as well as high-vantage views of Hangzhou, linking the site to its external context.
Linked to the Central Core by a network of lush, meandering pathways, the Northern and Southern Community Areas accommodate multipurpose programs and foster community engagement at a more intimate scale. Hangzhou’s historical garden and tea culture are referenced through a combination of layered planting and elevated sheltered spaces. The Terraced Tea Garden celebrates the iconic topography and history of Hangzhou’s tea culture though terraced planting and sophisticated resting spaces. Visitors can also stroll through the Meditation Garden, a peaceful alcove for outdoor contemplation and reflection, enclosed by evergreen foliage and multi-stemmed trees.
In order to cultivate healthy and fulfilling social lives for all residents and visitors, each Community Area also hosts a Community Lawn that provides residents with pockets of open play, family gathering and resting opportunities. These lawns also function as places to display art features that infuse Pengbu Central Commons with Hangzhou’s culture.
Hangzhou’s hills are represented by the sloping terraced gardens and landscape features within the Community Areas, creating rhythmic spaces of serenity and tranquility. Pathways meander through the gardens, visually unified through the site-wide planting aesthetic. A mix of classic structural shrubs and flowering perennials showcase bold seasonal colors and fragrances.
Pengbu Central Common’s strong community framework of multi-dimensional programmatic spaces creates a dynamic urban park for residents that encourages a healthy and social lifestyle. The design addresses issues of modern city living by offering a space for residents to foster relationships with each other and the nature that surrounds them, setting a new standard of urban park living for Hangzhou.
Other designers involved in the design of landscape: Shenzhen Huasan Architects, Antao Group
Project location: No. 8, Lian Hua Qiao Lu, Jianggan Qu, Hangzhou Shi, Zhejiang Sheng, China, 310021
Design year: 2015
Year Built: 2017