The Zhengkeng River Blueway Project is a 3.67 km suburban-river blueway located in northeastern Luohu, Shenzhen, China, connecting Dawang Village to Benhuan College. Its “white bridge” has become an internet-popular destination.
Compared to other blueways, this site is less developed, more ecological, and isolated due to the lack of popular space. The surrounding towns hope that the project will enhance the region’s reputation and stimulate its rural economy.
The suburban blueway is a valuable resource that needs attention. We enhance its natural features, stimulate ecological energy and cultural characteristics, symbolize its uniqueness, and attract many visitors. It has become an internet-popular destination since its completion.
Figure 1: people post photos or videos of Zhengkeng River Blueway on TikTok
“Internet-popular destinations” rely on symbolic attractions, which can lead to a lack of diversity and unsustainable popularity. To ensure long-term viability, designs should be based on the site’s inherent features and its ability to continually renew itself.
To excavate the endowment of the site, we propose a strategy of “explicit if absent and symbiotic if present”.
“Explicit if absent” means that the whole project is based on the “spirit of place”. For sites that do not have major tourist attractions, we present their natural environment in the best way possible, use a low-interference construction mode, and stimulate their natural and cultural energy. Examples include “Moon Lake” and “Strolling in Lush Forests”, where we just cleared the debris and added walkways to connect them. Path selection is based on the views of existing trees and bamboo forests along the river.
Figure 2-1：Moon Lake before construction Figure 2-2： Moon Lake after construction
“Symbiotic if present” selects visually appealing spaces and creates unique surroundings to match the environment. “Azure Valley with Flowing Mists” uses height and space variations to build a 500m elevated “white bridge.”
Figure 3-1：before construction Figure 3-2：under construction
Figure 3-3： after construction (night view) Figure 3-4： after construction (day view)
We aim to establish a sustainable project by implementing reasonable strategies once the number of tourists reaches a certain level.
The project comprises four parts: “Origin of the Great City,” “Beginning of the Mountain,” “Reflection of Mountains and Moon,” and “Memory Extension from Clouds.” “Origin of the Great City” connects villages and natural areas by creating space for water-based activities, integrating humanistic vitality and natural ecology. Tourists can also experience the mountains, rivers, forests, and rocks, as well as walk on the water promenade formed by the white bridge.
The project features an Internet-friendly symbol (the white bridge), which facilitates rapid online dissemination.
Due to constraints imposed by the site’s topography and property rights during the design process, a complete system was not initially expected. Nevertheless, enough space was reserved to accommodate an influx of tourists and their evolving demands once the project opened. The surge in tourist numbers generated more business opportunities, and even some landowners who initially refused to cooperate spontaneously updated their business models and integrated them into the project. For example, they transformed their former “farmhouse” into an “RV camp” or their original “Real CS” site into a “camping base.”
4 Multi-dimensional experience
Although the site’s popularity attracted many tourists to take photos on the bridge, our aim is to offer a multi-dimensional experience beyond simple scenario creation.
For example, “Azure Valleys and Flowing Mists” (“White Bridge”) offers diverse viewing experiences, rather than just one scenario.
Figure 4：the design structure of “Azure valleys and flowing mists”
Figure 5-1: “Into the view”- emphasize the contrast between the scale of people and the scenery.
Figure 5-2: “Into the view”
Figure 6: “Appreciation of greenery”– Bring tourists to the touchable forest.
Figure 7: “Close to the River” – The downward branch of the “White Bridge” allows tourists to access the riverside.
Figure 8: “Walking along the river”-walk between the rocky shore and the waterfall.
Figure 9: “Wishing Pavilion” – A pavilion on-site, allowing visitors to rest and reflect on their journey after walking across the “white bridge”.
Touring the “White Bridge” of the blueway provides a unique walking-viewing-living-traveling experience that cannot be replicated by a mere scenario.