main image: Protection and contemporary reconstruction of canal-side landscapes drives placemaking. An urban ecological community results from relationships between forest and water bodies.
Hangzhou boasts its role as one of the world’s top scientific research cities. Hangzhou Future Technology City (HFTC) is a newly developing science and technology-based district. The venture is designed to combine livability, mobility, and sustainability. Planned public transportation, responsible development, mixed land use and quality public realm are key ingredients of the plan.
HFTC is punctuated by a set of pavilions, guided by themes of urbanism, science, technology, and art. RFC Future Pavilion focuses on rapid urbanization. Strategically, the RFC Future Pavilion landscape offers a soothing and restorative immersion experience for users, a respite from the city.
More broadly, the site facilitates community connections with the adjoining canal. Restored riparian landscapes manage flooding and establish a destination public realm.
Hangzhou is developing rapidly, with new buildings and municipal infrastructure changing the face of the city. As new residential areas are introduced, improved design standards are proposed. Such standards and principles are showcased at future pavilions.
In Hangzhou, a globally acclaimed network of canals reflects a rich and purposeful history – for trade, transportation, drainage and flood control, and public realm. The Jing–Hang Grand Canal is the longest canal in the world.
The RFC Future pavilion sits on a canal tributary and is organized to sensibly respond to canal ecology, physical and social environments. The pavilion and landscape play a role in weaving together streets, pedestrian and open space systems, including a central park.
An increasing percentage of impervious surfaces and diminishing green spaces results in flooding and water quality impacts.
Rapid redevelopment sometimes results in deterioration of historic fabric, loss of green space, and open space fragmentation. Social and recreational impacts follow.
The design team began by recognizing Hangzhou’s 2,000-year history, a successional development of green streets, green spaces, water bodies and canals. The city’s current commitment to green public space was acknowledged as a hallmark of the city. Canal-side parks were identified as a unique feature, offering quiet refuge from the city.
The broader innovation-driven mission of the HFTC was affirmed as it informed the building and site design. As the RFC Future Pavilion building focuses on the implications of rapid urbanization, interdisciplinary discussions resulted in a supporting role for site design in addressing these very issues.
The RFC Future Pavilion landscape establishes a rare, truly waterfront development and pedestrian greenway system. The development is strategically integrated with the larger pedestrian network and includes a uniquely expressive jogging track. The well-equipped track celebrates beautiful scenery and pedestrian destinations.
Connecting Community and Canal
Site planning principles include the desire for harmonious relationships between mixed-use communities and canals, and an open and accessible public realm. Water features are intended to visually “extend” the canal surface to the public realm.
An Environmental Canal
The canal system includes dams and locks, to both manage floods and improve water quality via stepped water circulation devices.
While revitalizing the basic environmental functions of the canal, the landscape design also plays a role in protection and reconstruction of the 173-meter-long, canal-fronting landscape.
Fluctuating water levels inform an ecological approach to riverbank design: water-tolerant plants such as pond fir, cattail, and iris; and erosion control devices.
AWARD WORTHINESS: ELEVATING THE ROLE OF PUBLIC REALM
Hangzhou Future Technology City is focused on innovation. Innovation is largely driven by the exchange of ideas. In typical research parks, scientists work in the isolation of their individual building spaces. An improved approach suggests that by mixing uses and users together in an urban community with a common mission, ideas are exchanged, knowledge is developed, and long-term synergies are established. The infrastructure of conducting research is the infrastructure of good urban living.
The idyllic pavilion site creates an inspirational atmosphere, an engaging public realm for entrepreneurs to collectively respond to social and environmental challenges.
“Quality of life comes from the design and personalization of the project. Personalization comes from the respect for and understanding of the site, as well as detailed expression of the place’s spirit. Futuristic design comes from subtraction, conditioned by respect for nature. Site planning and landscape design introduce nature into the limited site area and recreate a scenically contemporary wooded nature park, a place to relinquish the hectic daily routine. A landscape that cannot wait to project itself into the future.” 
 Adapted from Instagram post by Landscape. First.
Project location: Future Technology City, Wenyi West Road, Yuhang District, Hangzhou, China
Design year: 2018
Year Built: 2019Entrant name: TOPOS Landscape Architects