Xuhui Runway Park is an innovative urban revitalization project that breathes new life into a unique piece of Shanghai’s history. Located in Xuhui Riverfront area, a formal transportation, storage and manufacture base of the city, the 14.63-hectare site was once the main runway of Longhua Airport, which operated for over 80 years and was Shanghai’s only civilian airport until 1949. The concrete runway was in constant use until the airport was decommissioned in 2011.
With the 21st century repositioning of the Xuhui Riverfront area as a contemporary mixed-use district, the historic runway is embracing its new life. Master planned as a side-by-side public street and linear park, the park provides a valuable open space corridor that serves the district’s high-density developments and offers a much needed recreational space for adjacent neighborhoods.
A Comprehensive Urban Landscape
To celebrate the site’s history, the design of the park mimics the motion of a runway, creating diverse linear spaces for vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians by organizing the park and street into an interconnected sequence at a runway scale, a “runway of modern life”. While the spaces are linear in form, diverse spatial experiences are created by applying various materials, scales, topography, and programs. Ascending and descending movements, with overlooks for pedestrians and cyclists, replicate the experience of being on an airplane, connecting the park’s visitors to the site’s past and providing a collection of distinctive views. Multiple water features, bespoke playground, and custom site furnishing which were inspired by the aviation industry, are distributed throughout the park.
The layout of Yunjin Road contributes to the urban scale of the district by limiting the number of vehicular travel lanes and promoting public transit. Designated bike lanes are integrated into the street section, facilitating the “last one kilometer” commute between transit and various destinations.
A sunken garden is carved between the park’s subway station and adjoining development parcels, improving the walking experience to and from transit while enriching the spatial composition of the park in its conveyance of an extended descending and ascending experience. Additional commercial frontage lines the garden perimeter, which activates the garden space while introducing revenue-generating program to the park to support its operations and maintenance costs.
Demonstration of Sustainable Design
Diverse programs are organized in various park spaces, open to all and primarily free of charge. The entire park is universally accessible, providing equal opportunities for people at the full range of ability levels. The park serves as a year-round outdoor destination for nearby residents, office workers, families, and students.
Abundant wildlife habitats in both land and marine typologies are integrated with the landscape programs, with 100% of plant species native to the Yangtze River Delta. Trident Maple was planted as the iconic tree species delineating the alignment of the preserved runway panels. Over 68% of the hardscape is shaded by deciduous trees, providing outdoor comfort while reducing the heat island effect at this post-industrial site.
Portions of the runway’s original concrete were integrated in the park wherever feasible, prolonging the site’s memory as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the manufacturing of new concrete. The aviation-inspired site lighting is LED sourced, reducing annual electricity use by 167,000 kilowatts compared with metal-halide lighting. Most construction materials were sourced locally to reduce emission during transportation, protect rainforests, and support the local economy.
The stormwater from both the park and Yunjin Road is managed through the rain garden and the constructed wetland. After the treatment, the stormwater meets the quality requirements for recreational water suitable for human touch, according to the Surface Water Quality Standard of China. A portion of the treated runoff is collected at an underground cistern for park operation and maintenance use when necessary, providing a full water supply for the Runway Fountain in the park.
The project’s sustainability initiatives have earned it the first SITES Gold certification in mainland China, as well as the SITE 2019 Green Building Market Leader Award from USGBC, among many other national and international awards received.
Catalyst of the District-Wide Urban Regeneration
Following its construction, many major residential, commercial, and office developments were implemented on parcels adjacent to the park. The property value of the adjoining neighborhood has increased over 80% since 2015. Xuhui Runway Park has become as a catalyst for the urban regeneration of Shanghai’s Xuhui Riverfront District.
Lighting Design Consultant: Leni Schwendinger Light Projects Ltd.; Arcplus Group Co. Ltd.
Fountain Design Consultant: Fluidity Design
Structural Engineer, Civil Engineer and Electrical Engineer: Shanghai Municipal Engineering Design Institute (Group) Co., Ltd.
Architect: Scenic Architecture Office
General Constructor: Shanghai Gardening-Landscaping Construction Co. Ltd.
Project location: Yunjin Road, Xuhui District, Shanghai
Design year: 2012-2015
Year Built: 2019