Xinhua Waterfront Park is a 1.9 km stretch of green public space, situated on the east bank of Shanghai’s Huangpu River. Between 2015 and 2018, the site was transformed from an inaccessible industrial dock into a much-relished space for residents and visitors alike. The park creates new connections between the city and the beautiful Huangpu River and is now one of the largest public green spaces of Shanghai’s centre.
West 8 was assigned as the landscape architect of Xinhua Waterfront Park in 2017. The transformation was a subproject of the lager Huangpu River East Bund Open Space Project. Launched in 2015 by the district’s municipality, the project aspired to transform 21 kilometres of Shanghai’s river banks into a green public waterfront speckled with leisure and exercise programs. Xinhua Waterfront Park, the largest, pioneer park within this larger project, was completed in 2018 with the subsequent phases of the masterplan completed later throughout the year.
The waterfront had become heavily congested over the previous decades from the fast industrial and economic growth of Shanghai, resulting in poor visibility and accessibility of the waterfront. Today, the park connects important city streets to the river with a band of greenery and allows joggers, cyclists and meandering visitors to experience spectacular river views and different landscapes in a variety of routes and levels.
The design team had to incorporate an existing 30m wide concrete, riverside dock and a high flood defence wall into the park design. As a solution, the park was designed and built on several planes. This topography creates intimate and dynamic connections to the river’s edge, while seamlessly integrating the flood defence and concrete dock into the park configuration.
The 1.9 kilometre-long public park spans continuously across a section of the east banks of the Huangpu River. As a reflection of China’s changing attitudes towards greener cities, the park is designed to encourage vitality, well-being and healthy lifestyles of residents with the implementation of lush planting, the jogging and cycling pathways and clear visual sightlines both into and outside of the park. To preserve the previous character of the space, several large industrial remnants were retained, re-used and re-contextualized as shading structures and park features.
The Xinhua Waterfront Park development introduced four new lively squares as a series of entrance plazas. These stitch the park to the neighbouring areas and invite visitors into the new waterfront. The large central plaza, named Baizi Square (Hundred-Sons Square), features a hill built from earth, rock and granite and is adorned with pine trees and azaleas. Shaped like a turtle shell, this hill was inspired by Guifuone, a strong figure in Chinese mythology. Surrounding the play structure, a two-story waterfront terrace spreads towards the river. Both stories are accessible: the vast, green, romantic upper floor provides sweeping vistas, while the intimate, shady, ground-floor alcove is the perfect spot for relaxing or can be used as a retreat from the elements.
The other squares are titled: Minsheng Cultural Square, positioned close to the busy ferry terminal; Harbour Square, with its industrial monuments; and Xinhua Square, which links the park to the nearby Dongfang business area.
To improve connections to the district and allow people to enjoy a continuous eastern waterfront, West 8 designed a system of faster and slower interconnected paths. These dedicated routes allow walkers, joggers and cyclists to experience different atmospheres across all levels of the waterfront. From rock gardens to flower fields, these pathways embed Xinhua Waterfront Park within the larger 20km waterfront redevelopment and connect the new masterplan to the existing urban fabric of the city.
Compared to the traditional, segregated and unsafe public green spaces in Shanghai, Xinhua Waterfront Park features an open and inviting plant palette. A delightful combination of large shady trees and low ground covers create depth, ensure clear sightlines and create a safe feeling throughout the park. At night, the lighting plan of the park creates an even but not overbearing illumination of the main streets and contains luminaires from West 8 and Philips’ Olivio series. The existing concrete dock was paved with granite cobblestones and paving details highlighting the key areas of the riverside redevelopment with an abstracted wave pattern. This motif is also present on the dark grey metal railing along the upper edges of the flood defences and helps the multi-levelled project feel like a natural extension of the river’s edge.
Name of the project: Xinhua Waterfront Park
Role of the entrant in the project: Lead Designers
Other designers involved in the design of landscape (if any): Shanghai Huangpu River Banks Development Construction Investment (Holdings) Co., Ltd., Public Green Area: Tongji Architectural Design (Group) Co., Ltd. Shanghai China Communications Water Transportation Design & Research Co., Ltd.
Project location: Huangpu East Bund, Shanghai, China
Design year: 2016 – 2018
Year Built: 2018