PLAT Studio: Hangzhou is a highly urbanized city that is famous for its unique mix of topography and large open spaces so near to the core of its city center. The expansive West Lake and the surrounding scenery of hills and plains are a small part of a larger association with the natural system that has historically defined Hangzhou on the global stage. Years of rapid urban development in response to Hangzhou’s rising population has pushed the urban boundaries outward, where residents craving to extend its existing lifestyle that provides them the space to breathe, exercise and engage with both each other and landscape.
Pengbu Central Commons, a residential park in the heart of Pengbu District, has the unique opportunity to renew Hangzhou’s urban living by providing a large oasis of green open space for the common use of this mixed-use district. The design intent of Pengbu Central Commons aims to address the issues and stresses of urban living by activating life in outdoor public space through a linking and integrating the regional park system, accommodating programs at all scales to create a sense of community for the neighbourhood, and public use, unifying through a fluid, meandering network.
Within walking distance of Hangzhou’s East High-Speed Train Station, Pengbu Central Commons is conveniently located atop a subway easement, requiring a large area of the development to be dedicated to green open space. This easement, in combination with borders defined by wide areas of riverfront and freeway buffer planting, provides the neighborhood park the ability to establish a rare and large resource of programs and regional connection that is allocated and accessible to the district.
The framework of Pengbu Central Commons recognizes the unique spatial character of the residential units and is divided into zones that are organized by the social needs of the public and community. A central core functions as the ‘commons’ of the neighbourhood and is the social hub of the park. This core anchors two branching community areas that offer smaller and more enclosed social pockets of open space on the doorsteps of nearby residents.
This approach to space making brings a rich and dynamic aesthetic to the park, providing large scale amenities at the core of the development and smaller programmatic pockets on an internal axis closer in proximity to residences. The overall design gives the park an active role in developing a relationship between residents and the landscape setting they live in, transforming the site into a sophisticated public neighbourhood park.
The central core of the site is an active open space that serves the community with wide open space that accommodates large events and social gatherings. It is designed with a large activity lawn, strolling gardens, playground and sports amenities to provide generous space for surrounding communities to live the healthy lifestyle they seek with shared resources available to all.
The Central Lawn with its informal amphitheatre is designed to be a multi-functional activity space that offers the whole neighbourhood opportunities to exercise, play and socialize in larger community groups. The expansive lawn and its amphitheater serve as a dynamic area to hold social events, ideal for park users to leisurely converse and bond with neighbours. Visitors of the park can enjoy the many facilities for activity available around the Central Lawn, such as the basketball and tennis courts, the children’s playgrounds and the jogging trails that vary in lengths and challenges. The activity and vibrancy of this area can be viewed by a lookout platform that additionally provides views of Hangzhou from a high vantage point linking Pengbu Central Commons to its outer context.
The wide and open character of the central core is complemented by seasonal trees and layers of shrub planting that soften the garden pathways and transform the Central Lawn into a comfortable area to gather and socialize. A water feature on an elevated plaza evokes the fluid design language of the site, providing the natural sound of water to connect residents to the adjacent river on the southern border of the site.
Linked to opposite sides of the Central Core by a network of lush meandering pathways, the Neighbourhood Pockets accommodate multipurpose programs and foster community engagement at smaller scale. In both the Northern and Southern neighbourhoods, specialized activity spaces in the form of assorted gardens and lawns foster a healthy community environment within Pengbu Central Commons. The character of these two spaces reflect Hangzhou’s unique garden and tea culture through their layered planting around sheltered and elevated spaces. The provision of these amenities within these areas cultivate healthy and fulfilling social lives for all users of the park.
The Terraced Tea Garden celebrates the topography and culture of Hangzhou with terraces of planting that elevate the amenity as a sophisticated resting space, while the seasonal gardens are enclosed by evergreen foliage and multi-stemmed trees to create a peaceful environment for outdoor contemplation, reflection and strolling. A Community Lawn is placed in each Community Area to provide neighbourhoods open play, family gathering and resting opportunities. These lawns will also serve as a space to display artful features to infuse the culture of Hangzhou into Pengbu Central Commons.
The sloped landscape of the terraced gardens and landscape features within the community areas, creating undulating spaces of peace and tranquility. As people move through these gardens, they experience a rhythmical and spacious sense of flow. Pathways meander through a variety of landscape settings, lined with a site-wide planting aesthetic that showcases bold seasonal color and fragrances through a mix of classic shrubs layers and flowering perennials.
As part of the growing city of Hangzhou, Pengbu Central Common’s integrated landscape framework closely blends with the surrounding landscape fabric and the people-environment relationship that Hangzhou has had historically. Further, the shifting scales and the multi-dimensional program spaces create a dynamic neighbourhood park for communities to have recreational and social infrastructure. From this neighbourhood park that successfully fosters closely knitted relationships between neighbours and the landscape that surrounds them, a new neighbourhood park emerges for the future generations of Hangzhou.
Short office name: PLAT Studio
Role of the office in the project: Landscape Architect
Other designers involved in the design of landscape: Shenzhen Huasan Architects, Antao Group
Project location: No. 8, Lian Hua Qiao Lu, Jianggan Qu, Hangzhou Shi, Zhejiang Sheng, China, 310021
Design year: 2015
Year Built: 2017