After approved as a state-level development zone in 2007 the 32.9 sq km Ningbo High-tech Industrial Development Zone included over 84 hectares of neglected land along the Yong River in desperate need of regeneration. The Ningbo Planning Bureau instigated a transformation into a contemporary riverfront park. As the High-tech zone borders a 6.5km long stretch of the Yong River, the brief was to create a high quality riverfront park landscape that responded to local conditions, enhanced flood control and enhanced the ecological environment.
With poor relationship to the urban fabric and with site levels for the proposed park predominantly below a flood protection levee, the key problem was the lack of connectivity between city and waterfront with limited physical and visual connections to the Yong River. A landscape masterplan for the 84 hectare site and a first phase demonstration area was required to be built to bring immediate benefits to a new high-rise affordable housing community.
AECOM’s landscape architects were commissioned to develop a concept master-plan for 84 hectares of riverfront to resolve connectivity, environmental improvements and enhance quality of life through the creation of a sustainable, people-orientated riverfront park.
As phase 1 was overlooked by new high-rise affordable housing community including those rehoused as part of the wider regeneration, low-income families feared losing simple daily connections to the river would be able to enjoy greater contact with nature, fresh air, multifunctional green space and prime waterfront living.
Our solution and design intent was to:
– Establish a convenient, flexible and welcoming park for the diversity of age, ability and gender within the community as part of an inclusive design;
– Integrate typhoon resilience, climate change adaptation and ecological restoration for environmental sustainability;
– Use native and low-water demand seasonal planting and integrate sustainable urban drainage systems.
The 84 hectare masterplan was designed as a whole to establish a clear vision, positioning, character zones and programs for the riverfront park. A 17 hectare schematic design followed to establish principle landscape systems, materials, stormwater management and facilities. A 2.5 hectare Phase 1 demonstration area was constructed and practically complete by 2013 to bring immediate benefits to an affordable housing community. Phase 2 was constructed and opened in 2016.
Phase 1 is the first of a series of open space platforms promoting social interaction and strengthening ecological systems between a residential community and the river. As a ‘Community Platform’ the project is a catalyst and demonstration area for future phases which will subsequently provide platforms for sports, education, ecology, technology and culture.
AECOM as lead designer for the Riverfront Park was pivotal in creating public space to promote social inclusion, ecological restoration and resilience to meet the continually evolving demands of urbanization and climate change. The concept of a ‘Platform Park’ diversifies the flood protection levee and creates platforms for social interaction, education, cultural discovery, and ecological restoration.
Rigid constraints regarding the flood protection levee alignment by the Water Bureau were overcome by creating a strategic cut and fill balance to elevate landforms as river viewing platforms (sculptural landforms). Low level areas were designed to harvest and retain stormwater run-off as part of a site wide water management regime. The selection of indigenous plants to vegetated swales, embankments and retention ponds includes a diverse mix of perennials and meadow grasses to ensure all year round interest and resilience to drought and flood conditions.
In addition to the landforms, an iconic elevated walkway and viewing pavilion were bold additions outside the flood protection levee affording dramatic views of the Yong River. These connect to a regenerated and repurposed dock and merge with the levee at a new plaza, playspace and fitness area. The continuously ramped elevated walkway creates an inspiring new physical and visual connection to the river and promotes an inclusive design.
The Yong River Park is an incredibly popular destination for local communities and historic Fa Wang Chan Buddhist temple. Spaces and facilities encourage health, fitness and social interaction whilst transforming the way people connect to the river. Daily users include local monks, grandparents & toddlers, families, walkers, joggers, cyclists, tai chi groups, ball room dancing and fitness dance groups.
As Ningbo is threatened annually by typhoons and flooding, the restored riparian wetland creates an infrastructural “soft edge” and resilient first line of defense to storm surges and floods. The wetland and native meadows provide an important habitat for avian and aquatic species.
The park has been a catalyst for the restoration of Fa Wang Chan Buddhist temple for religious events and cultural tourism. Property value for local residents has also increased demonstrating the economic benefits of green space to local communities.
At the heart of the project is a commitment to inclusive design, sustainability and resilience to meet the continually evolving demands of urbanization and climate change. The application of sustainable stormwater management and extensive use of native, low-water demand perennials and meadow grasses supports goals to enhance biodiversity, restore ecological systems and enhance flood controls. This is significant public open space for Ningbo city and a platform for ecological landscape design in China.
Entrant office name: AECOM Limited
Role of the entrant in the project: Lead Landscape Architect
Other design firms involved: Ningbo Landscape Design Institute
Project location: Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, China
Design year: 2011-2012
Year Built: 2013