Shaheyuan Park has historically been an important waterway hub for wood transportation in Chengdu. In the 1950s, the urban construction of Chengdu brought the busyness of waterway transportation. Thousands of logs were transported by waterway day and night, which further promoted the unprecedented prosperity of Chengdu Wood Industry. In 1953, the Chengdu Log Yard was formally established, and in 1998, was officially renamed as the Southwest Lumber Mill. However, with the development of the economy, the log market itself appears to be inconsistent with the development of the city, the contradiction between the spatial structure and the social environment, and the confrontation between historical relics and development updates, making the site become a lost space in the city. In 2012, the renovation project of north part of Chengdu was started, and the Southwest Lumber Mill was moved out of the city. The original site was planned to be an urban complex project integrating residential, commercial, and park.
Shaheyuan park first opened in June 2019, providing citizens with a new public open space. The project has maximized respect of the site’s cultural memory and preserved the original ecological environment, and integrates urban functions that respond to modern lifestyles. To be more specific, the project integrates the site’s wood culture into the design, reshapes the relationship between human and nature, creating humanistic-oriented and multiple-functional space. In addition, the site belongs to the Jinjiang Greenway planning belt, thus the establishment of Shaheyuan Park has supported the establishment of continuous urban green infrastructure.
Based on the perspective of urban sustainability, the park’s design has merged the memory of the site and the ecological environment management together, and integrated urban functions that respond to modern lifestyles. Therefore, the cultural memory of the Southwest Lumber Mill is retained, and has successfully transformed the lost space where diverse problems gather into a unique and green spirit of place.
After fully researching the historical evolution of the lumber mill, the design team advocated the concept which is ‘forest-wood-human’. In addition to reshape the interconnection between site memory and human, the park’s design has rebuilt an energetic space with unique cultural references fitting to the site’s heritage.
1. Integrating the site’s history and culture into the design
Wood is chosen as an element to witness the development and evolution of the site, represents the feelings and memories of the land, and is used as a narrative to translate the history and memory of the site. The evolution from the historical water transportation hub to the lumber mill has been traced through the transformation of wood succession cycle which is ‘forest-lumber-transportation-processing-storage’. Meanwhile, the relationship of “forest-wood-human” has been infused into the park.
The design maximizes retention of the remaining railway, which used to transport wood, that connects wood culture nodes and serves to remember past transportation heritage. Features including a log-pile maze, log-pile paradise, wood-storage pool, re-interpret past processes and provide natural play opportunities for park visitors. Storage warehouses traditionally used to store lumber are re-interpreted as shade canopies supporting neighboring residents, and connecting the past and future of the Shaheyuan Park. The “forest-wood-human” relationship is further constructed in the interaction between people and landscape, evoking the historical memory of this land, and shaping the place spirit of Shaheyuan Park.
2. Reshaping the relationship between people and nature
Shaheyuan park serves as an important node of the urban green corridor. Based on the perspective of sustainability, the park’s design uses low-impact and low-intervention measures to optimize the original ecological environment. Also, on a basis of preserving the existing mature trees along the riverbank, the riverside plant community has been rehabilitated to provide migratory corridor enhancement for native flora and fauna from the following four aspects: ecosystems, seasonal changes, spatial perspective, and plants’ color.
In the aspect of water circulation: First, rainwater is collected by bioswale, rain garden, ecological wetland, ecological stream and ecological lake to serve as the main water source of the park. Furthermore, rainwater runoff goes through the above resilient facilities also ensuring that overflow water returning to the river is filtered and of higher quality. Second, water from the Sha River is diverted to connect the urban water system. Allowing water to enter the site, particularly during floods, and be retained there not only alleviates pressure on rivers but also reinstates the site’s previous floodplain function. Additionally, the design of the underwater forest at the bottom of the lake provides the conditions for aquatic biodiversity and has both land-
scaping and ecological value.
3. Creating Humanistic-oriented and inclusive urban public space
In the past, vehicle-oriented urban development made the northern municipal bridge mainly serve truck traffic. However, due to the transformation of the site function, the renovated bridge replaced the unnecessary vehicle lanes with bikeways and a pedestrian-friendly platform that add green spaces and seats, while guiding pedestrians and cyclists into the park, creating a safe and comfortable re-purposed gateway bridge.
In addition, during the functional transformation of the site, there is a trend that diversified and differentiated populations would gradually gather in the surrounding residential areas. Therefore, to satisfy the requirements from different groups of people, provisions are made for families, toddlers, children, elderly and adults throughout the park.
Shaheyuan Park project expresses unique characteristics upon the special design language, builds the future mark based on the ancient history, celebrates the value of wood and embraces the humanistic-oriented philosophy, and is blended with the rapid development of the city. Every detail of the Shaheyuan Park project is based on the unique site history and the principle of sustainable development, which offers a sustainable development model for the profession as it has successfully resolved the contradiction between the protection of industrial heritage and the development of the city, and transformed the lost space where diverse problems gather into a green space with a unique place spirit.
Name of the project: Shaheyuan Park: Infusing Sustainability with Lumber Industry Heritage
Project category: Public Project
Role of the entrant in the project: Landscape design
Other designers involved in the design of landscape (if any):
Lead Designers: Tung Sheng Shen, Lee Parks, Chuiyong Fan, Hai Yu, Xiaodan Liu
Designers: Wei Yan, Jiaoni Yang, Xian Su, Jinren Peng, Yiling Wu, Dixuan Liu, Yajun Zheng
Construction Drawing Consultant Firm: AOBO Landscape
Project location: No. 88, Jiulidi North Road, Jinniu District, Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China
Design year: 2015
Year Built: 2019