Floating Tidal Wetlands: the Renewal of Shanghai Qiantan Leisure Park by


2024 Schools and Playgrounds / China / Built in 2023 /
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Project Overview

Nestled along the iconic Huangpu River in Shanghai, Qiantan Leisure Park is a pivotal portal to the 45-kilometer expanse of open riverside space and a quintessential waterfront greenery. Over the past two decades, rapid urbanization has redefined the Qiantan area into a 24/7 activated urban tableau, boasting both a global business hub and an ecologically urban community. This evolution underscores the imperative for the Qiantan riverside to evolve a dynamic public domain, pulsating with ecological life, multifaceted utility, and all-encompassing facilities.

Isolated and Single-Used

Yet, the park’s monolithic vegetation, vast stretches of underdeveloped greenery, and rudimentary amenities such as seating and pavilions fall short of the community’s aspirations for a premium living environment. A significant contradiction exists between the large number of visitors during evenings and weekends and the lack of public activity spaces and supporting facilities.

In this milieu, the mission to perpetuate Qiantan Leisure Park’s ecological legacy while innovating sustainable and captivating spaces within its compact urban canvas and cultivating a park that embraces family-oriented recreation represents a formidable challenge in design.

Flowing Tidal Flats

Amid swift urban evolution, the design team aspires to weave the nostalgia of ancient river beaches into the fabric of modernity, bridging the natural world with the urban expanse and intertwining the past with the future. Inspired by the natural elements of the river beach, the design simulates the river waves brushing over the land, forming a flowing base form for the site.

The design emphasizes a profound connection with the historical and natural milieu, fostering an environment of free play for social interaction and familial engagement. Central to the park is the pink sand beach, defined by its minimalist geometry and vivid hues, providing an inviting and versatile core that resonates with the imaginative spirits of children across various age groups.

Integration of Landscape and Architecture

Treating both architecture and landscape as fundamental components of the activity area, the design team employs intensive land use to foster enriched spatial activities. Three buildings, arrayed in a village-like pattern, integrate harmoniously with the landscape to form a central hub of activity. The streamlined pavement design interweaves with the architecture and greenery, continuing the narrative of the site. The use of gentle slopes resolves the height differences between buildings and the site, promoting the continuity of the landscape.

From Parent-Child Entertainment to Collective Experiences

Moving beyond conventional children’s play areas centered on fixed equipment, the design team crafted a landscape that captivates and sparks imagination: the pink beach. To cater to the varied needs and behaviors of children, the design strategically utilizes 40-60 mesh fine sand and segregates the beach into dedicated zones for younger and older age groups. The children’s activity area is interspersed with tree pits, creating an adaptable outdoor space that fluidly opens and closes, offering a comfortable niche for parents and grandparents to relax and supervise. This interactive space seamlessly integrates with the surrounding public areas, fostering a sense of community and encouraging varied interactions among all user groups.

A Touch of Wilderness

In its commitment to embodying the ecological spirit, the park has ingeniously infused a touch of wilderness into the urban park by creating two distinct ecological landscapes: the “Sensory Garden” and the “Wave Forest.” The west side’s “Sensory Garden” focuses on a static landscape, outlined with large trees of varying heights to create a beautifully canopied, semi-private space enveloped in a tapestry of greenery. Additionally, the east’s “Wave Forest” preserves the existing arboreal treasures while subtly reshaping the land below to cultivate shade-tolerant florals.

Urban Catalyst

Embracing the philosophy of ‘architecture in harmony with nature,’ Qiantan Leisure Park seamlessly integrates the man-made with the natural, cultivating an ecological haven brimming with wild charm amidst the urban concrete jungle. The fusion of architectural and landscape design crafts a more dimensional, diverse, and inclusive functional space, catering to the needs of different age groups at various times, fostering participation and creative use of space, and giving rise to new social activities, ultimately shaping a vibrant park shared by all.

The park has attracted over 100,000 visitors just eight months after opening and has achieved significant media recognition. The transformed Qiantan Leisure Park acts like an urban catalyst, injecting a renewed sense of energy and vibrancy into the riverside, echoing the continuous transformation and renewal characteristic of dynamic urban landscapes.

Location: Qiantan area, Pudong District, Shanghai, China

Design year: 2021

Year Completed: 2023

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