In the past three decades, with rapid urbanization, many large railway stations have been built up in Chinese cities, surrounded by overpasses and huge plazas. The stations cut off urban fabric, and the surrounding areas are usually separated from nearby urban environment. The renewal of Jiaxing railway station is a design practice of our partial landscape upgrading and partial new landscape design of a transportation hub in the old downtown and its surrounding areas. The challenge lies in the engulfing and fragmentation of urban public space by transportation hubs, broken and passive industrial land, large parking lots, etc. The low-end industrial mix and chaotic traffic around the station have been detrimental to the area that was once the city center. Given the complexity, we worked closely with design consultants across disciplines. The Jiaxing railway station park is an urban oasis of 35.4 hectares encompassing three parts, including the nearly 70-year-old People’s Park, the forested North Plaza, and the futuristic South Plaza where the complex acts as city’s transportation hub and accommodates multiple uses.
As the city rapidly expanded, the facilities at Jiaxing People’s Park began to age, with dilapidated stone paths and a polluted water system. The People’s Park was originally a semi-enclosed park with gates and walls made of stone and wrought iron. However, over time it fell into disrepair, with a poor appearance that made it seem out of touch with the rest of the city. After undergoing micro-renewal and restoration, the gates and walls of People’s Park were removed. This has made the park more accessible to the public, allowing citizens to enjoy the greenery. While minimizing earthwork, the design team was able to maintain the landscape structures of the area and successfully preserved all 266 century-old trees and 9 ancient buildings. The renovation process included necessary repairs and changes to the footpaths, venues, and ancient buildings. The vegetation under the forest was carefully redesigned, and nearly 100 different varieties of plants were replanted. To improve the water quality, gutters, pebble filtration, and aerators were implemented. In addition, the infrastructure was upgraded with the addition of new fitness facilities, signage, and outdoor furniture.
Working with traffic engineers and architects, railway entrance being relocated on basement level, it is the first time that ground level of railway station is given an opportunity to be a park in China. Chengdong Road, which used to separate the People’s Park from the railway station, was reinvented into an underpass tunnel. The 1-hectare North Plaza is planted with 118 zelkova trees. This pedestrian-friendly design offers free circulation, leisure and event opportunities for passengers and citizens. Passengers are often amazed by the clean and open green space that they see upon reaching ground level from the sunken garden. The North Plaza offers visitors a unique and fresh impression of what a railway station can be like.Water cascade served as transition from the modern North Plaza to the traditional People’s Park and connection from the old to the new.
Green roof gardens and grass slopes cover the buildings, deviating from the typical design of transportation hubs in China and merging architecture with landscape. The rooftop of the bus station was designed as a viewing platform, providing visitors with the best vantage point to observe the train platform and enjoy the bustling train traffic. It is the first one in China, so people were continuously drawn back to this exceptional location.
In this project, it used the latest soil technology which solidifies synthetic organic matter into modules as an artificial planting substrate of much lower weight with automated drip irrigation system. Each floor of the South Plaza gathers roof and ground runoff, which is then channeled through a vertical rainwater harvesting system into a 540-ton rainwater tank. This collected rainwater is utilized for replenishing the waterscape and irrigation purposes.
The project seamlessly integrates public municipal buildings and transportation hubs into high-quality urban public spaces, while still preserving the unique culture of Jiaxing’s old town, serving as a cultural bridge between the past and the future, maximizes green coverage, becoming “a city oasis connecting the past and future”. The new landmark of Jiaxing has been warmly embraced by both passengers and citizens, reviving the vitality of the old town and bringing joy to people. This project establishes a new benchmark for improving the preservation of heritages and creating modern, accessible public open spaces in Chinese cities.
Other landscape architecture offices involved in the design of landscape:
(LANDSCAPE LDI): Tongji Architectural Design(Group)Co.
Architecture offices involved in the design: MAD
Location: Jiaxing. Zhejiang. China
Design year: 2019
Year Completed: 2022