A major transformation of the east bank of Shanghai’s Huangpu River was proposed by the East Bank Group; initiating an international design competition to master plan 21-kilometres of the waterfront. The challenge was to further unlock the city’s potential by creating world-class public places, and improving access to the river’s edge.
HASSELL delivered a master plan that would establish the world’s largest urban forest. Our vision was to create the ‘Huangpu East Bank Urban Forest’ – a continuous woodland of two-million trees – one tree planted for each of Shanghai’s two-million children. As the children grow, so would the forest. It would take 20 years to deliver, but would be a legacy for the city – one we could start on today.
Our master plan proposed the central concept elements of: identity, connection, orientation and activation. It presents a connected, and vibrant new identity for the waterfront that plays with the beautiful seasons of Shanghai to create an ever-changing series of public spaces that offer something for everyone.
These concepts were underpinned by five key design drivers to realise the major opportunities of the site, including:
_Creating a continuous waterfront for walking and cycling
_Unlocking the riverside and activating the public space
_Returning to nature and restoring the environment
_Preserving city heritage and creating new destinations, and
_Creating a new identity for Pudong in the post-industrial era.
The Huangpu East Bank Urban Forest would create a stunning natural setting for Shanghai’s spectacular city skyline, and present a new city identity featured in metro stations and bus stops, on television and t-shirts – and in the hearts and minds of people. Our master plan proposed a striking and clear brand that runs throughout the site – its wayfinding, marketing and identity. This visibility aims to expand the presence of the forest across the entire city.
Pathways for walking and cycling would meander through the forest and a system of walking loops would heighten the promenade experience – allowing new perspectives and overcoming existing barriers such as waterways, ferry terminals and industrial sites.
A sequence of playful orientation markers, designed by TTT Architects, was recommended to guide people through the landscape – enlivening the waterfront with a range of community and commercial offerings, including an educational program, library, cafe and sporting hubs.
Dramatic event spaces on an international scale could be tucked alongside sporting facilities and outdoor classrooms for locals, and spaces to relax with friends and family. Local schools could also be invited to participate in the creation and custodianship of the forest through tree-planting events.
The urban forest would have a significant impact on the city. It would expand green space by 25%, improve air quality and energy efficiency, and create new places to gather and celebrate – actively supporting Shanghai’s aspiration to become a more sustainable, attractive and prosperous global city.
These possibilities were communicated through a compelling detailed design concept, supported by an accessible mix of graphics, video, presentations and social media. Our Huangpu East Bank Urban Forest submission was embraced by both the competition jury, as a finalist, and the wider community. In online forums, the short video we produced for the competition had more than 25,000 views in just three days and the concept won the People’s Choice vote. The work has also led to an ongoing research project with Flamingo – exploring people’s emotional connection to trees in the city of Shanghai.
Project: Huangpu East Bank Urban Forest
Location: Shanghai, China
Client: East Bank Group
Collaborators: TTT Architects
Scale: 21 km
Status: Invited competition – unrealised
Imagery: HASSELL, MIR, TTT Architects, Linda Jukic