The Huangpu River is a 113 kilometers-long river flowing through Shanghai, China that was first excavated and created by Lord Chunshen, one of the four lords during the Warring States Period (475 BC – 221 BC). From the mid-19th century to the end of the 20th century, due to its unique geographical location and vast spatial advantages, the east bank of the Huangpu River was an ideal location for docks, stacks, warehousing and other sites and was also the best choice for large factories such as shipbuilding. Eventually, bridges and tunnels were needed for more efficient access.
In October 1993, Yangpu Bridge, spanning over Shanghai’s Huangpu River opened. It is one of the longest cable-stayed bridges in the world and connects Puxi’s Yangpu District with Pudong. Originally grey and unpainted, Yangpu Bridge was coated red for the city’s millennial celebration and has remained its iconic flame color to this day. Currently, Yangpu Bridge Park is only part of a wider vision to promote a vibrant urban life on the banks of the Huangpu River. Recently the municipality of Shanghai has commenced a large scale reconstruction of the east bank of the Huangpu River that will stretch for 21 km and open the landscape of Shanghai onto the river’s edge. By establishing a new living interface between neighborhoods and the river, a new long series of public spaces hosts linear paths: a discovery path, main path and sports path that help animate the river bank and create an urban setting within a natural environment for everyday activity along the 21 km of the East Bank. This has created a new breath of life on the previously unoccupied industrialized river banks by giving high visibility and a strong identity to the Huangpu water edge and its new connection to the city of Shanghai and its symbolic skyline.
Given the importance of Yangpu Bridge Park as the starting (and ending point) for Shanghai’s new riverside appearance, it is important that the design of Yangpu Bridge Parks include the overall master plans vision for both sides of the river. The master plans ‘main path’, ‘discovery path’ and ‘sports path’ continue through Yangpu Bridge Park and are adapted to blend with a new vernacular found with Yangpu Bridge and the immediate site below it.
To answer this challenge of ‘connections’, oblique off-form ‘flame red’ concrete walls inspired by the power and strength of the bridge are terraced away from the river’s edge as part of a 45 km Huangpu River Restructuring Flood Control Initiative. Multi-levelled cascading gardens are connected by pedestrian bridges and ramps that incorporate the master plan’s linear paths which, once entering the park, inherit the material and color of the Yangpu Bridge and thus integrate the bridge into the park as one. Marsh and meadows, undulating lawns with red-themed Sapium trees (Sapium sebiferum), Japanese Blood Grass (Imperata cylindrica ‘rubra’) and Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris), two amphitheatres and a network of riverside paths create various topographies around the base of the bridge as part of Yangpu Bridge and vice versa.
Two early 20th century wooden warehouse structures that exist under the bridge are still under renovation and are proposed to be used as part of a family park learning center. This will include The Yangpu Bridge Children & Young Adult Learning Center with a café, Young Children Biodiversity Activity Center, Yangtze Delta & Wetland Study Area and an indoor/outdoor adventure and discovery playground with amphitheater. The education and entertainment activities the old warehouse will offer as a learning center narrate the ecological and economic value the Huangpu River and its bridges have with a modern evolving Shanghai. This helps support awareness that a marvel of engineering can work in unison with ecology and education.
Client: Shanghai East Bund Investment (Group) Co., Ltd
Project location: 88, Lane 2175, Pudong Avenue, Shanghai, China
Design year: 2015
Year Built: 2018