Crossboundaries’ Skypark revalues a former unused rooftop, converting it into a recreational urban strip in Shenzhen

Shenzhen developed within the past 40 years from a minute fishing village to one of the most innovative, modern cities in China. Along with this growth came a growing need for spaces for leisure and recreation, including urban parks as essential components to providing green infrastructure and to contributing to the well-being of local communities. One of the areas in which the local government had foreseen to be transformed into a sports & leisure zone was the 1.2 km long roof top of the Southern terminal and depot buildings of Shenzhen’s Metro Line 2.

The main goal was to make use of the existing yet previously unutilized roof-top area, integrating the building better into its surrounding fabric. The challenge was to accommodate different user groups’ needs to improve the quality of physical education in the surrounding schools, create more places for the general public to enjoy leisurely sports and provide facilities for professional sports events and competitions with an audience. Crossboundaries partnered with the Shenzhen Nanshan District Government to focus on the development of the roof surface as a refurbishing measure, upgrading the existing Shenzhen Metro line 2 Depot, and further creating an elevated sports and leisure park on top of it.

I. Contextual consistency – on a Macro, Meso, Micro Level

The architects started with reviewing the overall urban context of the project (macro), then gradually zooming in on the local circumstances of the site, the surrounding educational, commercial and residential facilities in relation to potential accesses and connections in between the river and the bay area (meso). Finally, on the given design site, the existing building of the Metro terminal including its parking (micro).

II. Intertwined programmatic functions – A catalyst platform

Three specific user groups were identified as beneficiaries of the new project development – the general public, local professional sports clubs, tennis and volleyball in particular as well as three educational institutions, the Shenzhen Nanshan Foreign Language School and the Shenzhen Bay School. Crossboundaries proposed to subdivide the plot into 3 programmatic zones for the 3 different user groups, all of them tightly linked with their immediate surroundings. Special emphasis was put on the fact that all three user scenarios can take place in parallel and that the dedicated areas need to allow being closed off for a limited audience opened up to a wider one at certain times.

Access and Connections

All entrances & accesses to the rooftop park are located in direct vicinity to different functional areas whilst preventing unnecessary interference. On the rooftop itself, circulation is facilitated by three main paths, that occasionally intersect, connect and “grow” into other functions: Leisure path, Pedestrian path and Sports path. They are distinguished by material as well: the majority of the pedestrian walkway is made out of stone pavement, while the leisure trail is mostly covered with timber and the sports track with a rubber surface.

Providing Orientation on a human scale

Crossboundaries designed a signage system, which is applied on the macro, meso and micro scale. Macro scale signage is assigned to the entrances, highlighting them and ensuring they are visible from the ground floor and from afar. Meso scale signs are deployed along the strip and helping users to locate themselves (and each other) on the long, linear platform. Finally, micro scale signs identify specific destinations within those 100m marks, defining meeting points whilst at the same time serving as functional objects.

III. An Ever-changing Experience

Crossboundaries’ concept brings educational institutions together with the local community, in a unique combination of sports and recreational offers, tied together with the landscape as it makes use of the local panorama, capturing vistas towards the sea and thus presenting an ever-changing experience.

Humanization & Diversification

Crossboundaries’ design language distinguishes itself once more through the integration of predominantly human aspects, visible not only in the overall functional layout connecting communities and facilitating different usage scenarios, but also through the choice of materials and the application of environmental, sustainable principles. The greenery planted along the pathways not only provides shade but also contributes to efficient drainage and microclimate conditions.

With this assignment, to develop a sports and recreational roof-top park of such a large dimension, Crossboundaries created an essential meeting point in Shenzhen, that enhances social and cultural interaction between different groups of Shenzhen’s diverse urban population. At the same time, it succeeds in fulfilling its educational mandate and advocates for sports and wellness in general, in a densely populated urban space.

Location: Nanshan District, Shenzhen, China

Design year: 2016-2017

Year Completed: 2021

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