The Shanghai Waterfront Park Shanghai Peoples Republic of China a proposed integrated park and building urban design scheme 2000

As in many parts of the world (e.g. Battery Park City, Canary Wharf and Darling Harbour described in Chapter 8), the port facilities developed in Shanghai during the first half of the twentieth century have become redundant. With the development of mega-projects in the city - the Pudong in particular - the heavily polluted Huangpu River, wide though it is, instead of being the eastern edge of the city's core, has become a seam for development. The recent abandonment of many waterfront industries has led to a significant improvement in the quality of the river's water thus making land along its banks attractive for development.

In 2000, the Shanghai Urban Planning Bureau organized an international competition for a development plan for both sides of the Huangpu River. The area covered was 2470 hectares (6.3 square miles) and 24.7 kilometres (13 miles) in length extending from the Fu-Sing Island to the south of Ruiz Jin Nan Road. The goal of the Bureau was to use this strip of riverfront for recreational tourism and commercial development. It was also necessary to provide flood control measures and to encompass numerous cultural, historical and economic elements in the design. Three schemes were chosen as finalists: those by Sasaki, the Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, San Francisco office (SOM), and the Cox Partnership of Sydney. The second of these firms was chosen to proceed with the scheme. Many of the planning principles, such as the network of green links connecting the river to the interior of the site, were adopted from the Cox Partnership plan.

Shanghai Waterfront Proposal
Figure 5.19 The Shanghai waterfront proposal. (a) A sketch of the proposed Crescent and (b) A cross section through the Crescent.

As often happens in large schemes, the client changed over the course of time from the one who initiated it. The Shanghai P. & K. Development Company joined the Shanghai Port Authority as the property developer. They became the investment, marketing and the coordinating authority for the scheme. SOM was responsible for the master plan while the Shanghai Urban Planning and Research Institute executed the local planning. The land along the river was rezoned and the area between the proposed new development and the river was designated as parkland.

One of the design goals was to extend the visual linkages between the city and the waterfront. This task is not easy, as the river has high berms to prevent the flooding of the city. The other goals established were to create distinct precincts each with its own identity along the river and to enliven the front. The first goal is to be met by extending the streets down towards the river edge, the second by creating architecturally and activity unified neighbourhoods, and the third by adding to the passenger traffic on the river. Providing a coastal passenger-shipping terminal will augment the ferry services.

A major feature of the park is the Crescent (see Figure 5.19a). The width of the park varies in order to obtain some variety. The planting scheme is also varied with some areas left relatively open for active recreation while others have been designed for passive contemplation. On the landside, the park is proposed to be bounded by mid-rise (up to 12 stories in height), mixed-use, podium-based buildings and a boulevard. The buildings will give a strong definition and a sense of urbanity to the park. The boulevard has been purposefully designed to restrict its use as a major traffic artery. Its width has been kept down to two moving lanes in each direction and frequent pedestrian crossings have been introduced. The waterfront has an esplanade on the river's edge with lawns and trees between it and the boulevard. What is not clear from the sketch but is clear from the cross section is the use of a berm to control flooding. Inevitably it cuts off the visual link between the public pier walkway and the park inland to it (see Figure 5.19b).

The scheme, if completed as now specified, would really be an all-of-a-piece urban design with a major total landscape architectural element. Guidelines have been written for the buildings that will line the park. The goal is to obtain a consistency in fa├žade design with local referents. The buildings will require the investments of a variety of property developers and be designed by different architects. Whether the park itself should be considered to be an urban design is another matter. The design integrates park space and buildings but we shall have to wait and see whether the scheme actually develops as stated here. Parcels ofland are being released for competition up and down the river. The analysis of how it turns out will make a worthwhile case study!

Major references

Dixon, John Morris (1999). Urban Spaces. New York:

Visual Reference Publications. Marshall, Richard (2001). Waterfronts in Post-Industrial

Cities. London: Spon Press. Cox Group (2002). Shanghai Waterfront masterplan, China. www.cox.com.au/projects/masterplanning_urban_ design/index, html

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