Restore the Ecology and Dynamics into the Public Corridor of Dongguan Songshan Lake

Dongguan Songshan Lake area is located in the south of Dongguan, close to Shenzhen Guangming District. It is famous for its unique natural landscape, which is defined by beautiful lakes and graceful topography. There are also many well-known high-tech R & D enterprises and colleges located along the lakeside, such as HUAWEI headquarters, as well as a number of large scientific research laboratories.

Originally designed a couple of decades ago, the area evolved to incorporate developments over time, and it was no longer meeting the needs of the community as more residents, workers, and visitors settled along the perimeter of the lake. The linear site encompasses 42.5 acres, and prior to the redesign, it had a vehicular corridor running through the center, as well as fragmented sidewalks, dense vegetation, and segmented water features. The site’s borders include Songshan Lake Central Park to the north, Songshan Lake Shore to the south, Songshan Lake Management Committee’s offices to the east, and the Urban Ecological Exhibition Hall to the west. The ecology of the site had deteriorated over time, emphasizing the need to reimagine the landscape. In an effort to address these needs, the client Songshan Lake Management Committee, led a visionary effort to redesign this public space, while focusing on revitalizing the site’s greatest asset – the lake.

PROJECT GOALS – Restore natural elements and provide quality public space

The primary focus of the design team, which included the Songshan Lake Management Committee and many experts in planning and urban design, was to transform the site into a comprehensive urban public realm with nature, urban life, and ecology seamlessly integrated. To create a welcoming multi-modal public space, the primary roadway had to be reconfigured to accommodate bicyclists, pedestrians, and vehicles. The design team prioritized the revitalization of the natural landscape and addressing current needs while respecting the original design, culminating in the redefining of Songshan Lake into a popular community destination.

STRATEGY 1 – Create an open and secured vegetation system

Approximately 37% of the plantings were in poor condition and the ground layer of plants was inadequately maintained and overgrown. Thus, the first strategy was to protect the mature trees and selectively remove undesired plant growth to increase safety and provide a sufficient environment for new plantings and groundcover. Invasive species were removed, and native, low-maintenance plants were introduced to enhance the site’s natural beauty. These design interventions restored the natural elements of the site and provided people with opportunities to experience the space and reconnect with nature.

STRATEGY 2 – Re-establish the water system and wildlife habitat

The water bodies on the site were originally fragmented, which resulted in putrid conditions caused by oxygen enriched oxidation. The site also experienced occasional small, localized flooding events that intensified conditions on the lakeshore and in the wetland system. Strategy 2 included reconnecting and restoring these water bodies to their ideal natural condition.

An 8-acre water body, which included a wetland retention pond system, was redesigned to clean and filter the water while mitigating seasonal flooding. As a long-term approach to remediate water quality, over 10 swales in diverse scales were incorporated to channel runoff from adjacent buildings and impervious surfaces to redirect water to the wetland which was enhanced with adaptive aquatic plant species. These efforts to improve the water quality have created more desirable conditions for fish, frogs, birds, and insects that have re-established habitation within and around the site.

STRATEGY 3 – Reconfigure space for recreation and leisure

The southern section of the site was originally dominated by a central vehicular roadway that separated the 200-feet wide space into three stagnant pieces that had little usable space. The re-design of this section includes a series of shaded public spaces along a pedestrian promenade that transformed the original impenetrable boundary of the roadway. The public spaces are intertwined and provide engaging experiences including an interactive fountain, playable streams, and comfortable seating. The reconfigured space and programmed elements allow a diverse group of users to interact with each other and the newly redesigned lakefront has become a hub for people to gather, access nature, and host community events in its flexible spaces.

STRATEGY 4 – Integrate a greenway system

The original circulation within the site mixed vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic, causing conflicts dominated by high-speed traffic. The fourth design strategy focused on creating a greenway system that was safe and accessible to all users. It not only separates bicycles and pedestrians from vehicular lanes but also allows full use of the natural landscape while also accommodating increased parking space. In addition, a permeable jogging path is integrated along newly paved sidewalks, which prevents surface runoff from entering the sewer system. The success of this greenway has influenced its expansion into a future 75-mile greenway system that connects surrounding communities.

A STARTING POINT FOR THE FUTURE

The improvements to this centralized area of Songshan Lake are part of a larger effort to expand the redevelopment along the entire lakefront. Several projects that have similar needs and goals have been identified; these areas will be re-naturalized to improve the ecology of the sites, while also creating enjoyable public spaces and affordable housing opportunities for 36,000 low-income families. Once completed, the lakefront will become 1335 acres of the fully integrated system accessible to all that can be used as a model for regional connectivity, inclusive communities, and ecological sensitivity.

landscape architect: Ying Lou,Yu Qiu, Seven Wu, Xingchen Li, Zihan Cai, Wei Peilin, Lina Sun, Jail Liu, Weixin Hu, Aiting Yuan

developer :Dongguan Songshan Lake Hi-tech Zone Administration Bureau

Project location: Dongguan,Guangdong ,China

Design year:2020

Year Built: PHASE I 2021

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