Yang Pu Riverfront Urban Space Renovation–Power Station Auxiliary East Building

Wild and Symbiotic: 

Yang Pu Riverfront Urban Space Renovation–Power Station Auxiliary East Building

Overall Planning and Orientation

The overall location of the project is at east of Shanghai Yangpu bridge, which belongs to the south part of Yangpu Riverfront. This area was originally called “Yangshupu Industrial Belt”——an industrial agglomeration area south of Yangshupu Road, adjacent to Huangpu River, starting from Qinhuangdao Road in the west and ending at Liping Road in the east. From west to east, it spans six historic factories, namely, Power Station Auxiliary West Building, National Cotton No. 9 Factory, Power Station Auxiliary East Building, Shanghai Soap Factory, Yangshupu Coal yard and Gasworks. It covers an area of about 150,000 square meters and has about 1.2 kilometers of waterfront. As the birthplace of modern industry in Shanghai, the industrial zone along the riverside stretches for tens of miles and has the characteristics of early time, multiple types, wide distribution and large scale. The public space takes the dense industrial factory area (300-500m section) as the design node, reflecting the demand for spatial diversity.

Following the completion of the Pudong Minsheng Wharf Reconnection project, three independent firms, Atelier Z+, Atelier Liu Yuyang Architects and Atelier Deshaus, has been invited to participate in the preliminary planning and concept of the Yangpu riverfront public space since 2018. Further more, a joint working group was organized in a cluster mode, which was led by Atelier Z+ to complete the whole process design and section area deep design. Ultimately, it hopes to achieve limited intervention and low impact development. With minimum manual intervention, the authenticity of industrial docks is retained to the maximum extent.

In addition the overall planning and connection design, Atelier Liu Yuyang Architects also take in charge of the deep design and construction coordination of the area of Yangpu riverfront Power Station Auxiliary East Building.

Design Strategy and Landscape Layout

It is the former site of Shanghai Power Station Auxiliary Equipment Works East Building. The design aims to preserve the wildness, freshness, nature and downshifting character of the site by adopting the concept of limited disturbance. The existing camphor trees are retained and one of the former warehouses is transformed into an open Pavilion of Symbiosis. The design also takes into consideration the historical texture of the site and introduces a system of pedestrian routes and bicycle paths. The newly built elements, Garden of Vestige, Meadow in Succession and Eco Pond, are established through historic relics, the canal and building remains, and as the skeleton to the landscape. As an ensemble, the site provides visitors different touches of landscape when strolling inside, and together they make the East Campus an everyday landscape which not only functions as the riverside open space for city life, but also offers fun and diversity similar to traditional gardens in the Yangtze River Delta. 

-Pavilion of Symbiosis

An old factory building of Shanghai Boiler Works (1953-1979) was set for demolition due to road planning. By analyzing the angle and orientation of the planned traffic road, the design proposed to retain and reinforce half of the original building to form a unique structure and geometric condition. The roof was opened up to let in sunshine and to allow the growth of new green vegetation from within. Preserved as well as newly installed doors and windows, sandpit for kids, and the landscape coteau make the whole structure an integrated whole. By preserving and restoring the original space and partial structure of the Boiler Works, the Pavilion of Symbiosis functions as an open space for all citizens, fusing together architecture and landscape, history and city. 

-Garden of Vestige

The demolished fragments of the original building are reused to build a wall representing the remains of the former sites. A landscape slope and garden paths lead to the Garden of Vestige and the indoor office space is transformed into a garden space. The garden, linked up with the riverside paths, offers both views of Huangpu Riverside and Yangpu industrial zone. 

-Meadow in Succession

Walls made of concrete blocks contained within the Gabion baskets are built on the former site of canal and factory buildings to represent the original factory building relics. The man-made meadow also encourages visitors to observe the growth and decay of vegetation and to experience the four seasons of Shanghai.

-Eco Pond 

Applying the techniques of sponge city, the Eco Pond collects rainwater of the site and is connected with the ground water, the Eco Pond brings out natural accesses to Huangpu River for visitors to enjoy. It brought out a natural access between visitors and the Huangpu River, while providing the ground for leisure activities.

Concept and technical characteristics:

About the idea of ​​” Meadow in Succession”:

In the landscape project of Shanghai Power Station Auxiliary Equipment Works East Campus, we use the concept of “Meadow in Succession”- an artificial meadow to help to establish habitat – instead of the traditional lawn that consists only a single variety of plant and consumes plenty of water. At least 8 mixtures of multiple plants are applied to create an ecological self-circulating habitat that tends to be a second nature. Through the design and management process of the “Meadow in Succession”, it helps the formal industrial site to recovery its own ecosystem in early stage during the construction period; and to adapt to environmental disturbances when transforming into a public space for urban everyday life more soundly after opening. Different aesthetics of plant communities are presented in different seasons, showing both the growth and decay of vegetation, which is the presentation of natural cycles, a cultural context of Jiangnan and also an expression of the sustainable ecological concept.

“Meadow in Succession” not only conveys the ecological aesthetics of wildness, but also illustrates the temporal and spatial evolution of the industrial heritages along the river. It is not a static planting approach that ceases to change immediately after construction, but a progression to establish and receive the public space as the landscape in the real nature which, with the intervention of both human and nature, could interacts with the climate and the environment, thus developing various habitats that fit the site. This process presents vegetation succession at different time, seeking commonality and balance between natural habitats and artificial habitats. Observing the progress of plants growth itself is also part of the ecological education.

“Meadow in Succession”, means man-made wildness, but also indicates a hope to come closer to wildness and nature. Inspired by the natural phenomena in nature and rural fields, we create an “Meadow in Succession, ” for which the “beauty”

that is wild but not completely wild (an in-between condition of artificial and natural) by low intervention, to show our respect to the existing environment. ” Meadow in Succession ” is an innovative experiment of ecological aesthetics in Yangpu Riverside. Through ” Meadow in Succession “, we hope to provide the opportunity for Shanghai residents to encounter with nature.

About the concept of “ecological gabion “:

Urban regeneration results in the functional transformation of the industrial area and inevitably produces construction wastes which require a lot of landfills. However, the construction wastes within the site, especially the concrete blocks, can be seen either as wastes or as raw materials, since they are stable and have not been chemically polluted. To achieve the goal of recreating the site historical texture and low-carbon oriented design, the principle of waste reduction/reuse is established from the very beginning of design. Also, with the inspiration of the stone-like but non-stone nature of concrete, the site’s concrete blocks which generally considered as wastes are now treated as raw materials, developing into different landscape elements such as the ecological waterfront gabions and the concrete slate paths.

On the aspect of construction method, the ecological waterfront gabion uses the configuration of the stones to increase the porosity thus providing more spaces for living creatures while also owns comparative self- weight and structural strength. We reuse the concrete blocks instead of traditional stone materials obtained from mountains, bringing the following benefits: First, the consumption of stone materials is reduced from the beginning of the design process, and the wastes are minimized. Second, the concrete blocks is recognized as a raw material underling the stone-like but non-stone character. The trace of history over years in it tells the past stories of the site, and the rough texture of the concrete block also emphasizes the industrial aesthetics.

If the transformation of concrete blocks into the ecological waterfront gabion is a relatively large-scale construction, transferring them into concrete slate paths is a way that can be practiced both in urban and rural area, even at home. The attempt of this low-carbon aesthetics of this project provides creative inspiration for engineering technology and material reuse in the process of urban renewal in metropolitan –region Shanghai.

About the concept of “sponge city”:

The principle of sponge design is adopted in this project throughout the whole site. Urban storm water infrastructures – permeable pavements, plants that help to contain water, topographical change and eco pond to retain and purify water – are taken into consideration as part of the main strategies from the beginning of design. Meanwhile, the method of water-managing and hill-stacking from the traditional Chinese gardens are adopted to help the overall site layout.

Behind the form of Eco pond is its mechanism of water treatment – different water collection routes shape several islands, and yellow stones at different height indicate the water levels. The catchment zones bring about the visual connections between Eco pond, camphor forest and the pavilion of symbiosis. The camphor forest and the pavilion of symbiosis face each other across the Eco pond, creating a dialogue between human and nature. With a combination of modern engineering technology (sponge city) and traditional Chinese garden concept (water-managing and 

hill-stacking), the project is an attempt to create the aesthetics of the derelict industrial site within its cultural experience that is international but also rooted in the life of water towns in southern China.

Kocation: Yangpu district, Shanghai, China

Design year: 2017-2018

Year Built: 2018-2019

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