Shanghai Shipyard Riverside Park

DLC: The Huangpu River, excavated by Lord Chunshen during China’s warring states period (475 BC – 221 BC), is a 113 km long tributary flowing through Shanghai, China. Due to its unique geographical location and vast maritime advantages, the Huangpu River from the mid-19th through the end of the 20th century became an ideal location for factories, docks, stacks and warehouses and was also the best choice for large-scale industry such as shipbuilding.

As part of the current newly designed 45 km greenbelt strategy along the banks of the Huangpu River and a history of marine industry dating back to 1862, a former Shipyard centrally located on the Pudong bank of the river is converted into a 1km long riverfront ‘Performance Park’. Terraced lawns and amphitheaters, marsh & meadows and a network of bike paths and walks are terraced up from the river’s edge as part of a solution to create public space and to contain seasonal flooding.

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Currently, the Shanghai Shipyard Riverside Park is only part of a wider vision to promote vibrant urban life on the banks of the Huangpu River. Recently the municipality of Shanghai commenced a 21 km large scale reconstruction of the Huangpu’s east bank that has opened the landscape of Shanghai onto the river’s edge. By establishing a new living interface between neighborhoods and the river, a new series of public spaces hosts a succession of riverside parks and linear paths that animate the river banks previously unoccupied industrialized edge. The Huangpu’s newly established link and relationship to the city has created a new breath of life and a new identity with Shanghai and its symbolic skyline.

Given the importance of Shanghai Shipyard Riverside Park as part of Shanghai’s new riverside appearance, it was important that the design of the park include the government’s larger vision for both sides of the river. The master plans river strategy; ‘main path’, ‘discovery path’ and ‘sports path’ continue through the park and are adapted to blend with a vernacular found with the industrial past and the immediate site around it.

Multi-leveled cascading gardens with a network of paths, pedestrian bridges, amphitheaters, cascading rain gardens, meadows and undulating lawns convey a red-themed planting scheme of Sapium trees (Sapium sebiferum), Japanese Blood Grass (Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’) and Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris).

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There are two major pieces of architecture in the park; the Shanghai Lujiazui Exhibition Centre by OMA and a music hall converted from a preserved industrial factory by Kengo Kuma.

OMA’s Lujiazui Exhibition Center is built on a former ‘ship cradle’ and located on the very spot that ships were built and launched into the Huangpu River and has a very important ‘Marine Industrial’ past that contributes to Shanghai’s early economic rise. The former ‘ship cradle’ ramp where the Exhibition Center sits acts as an amphitheater with the architecture’s exterior as a back drop canvas for outdoor performances including outdoor movies and fashion shows.

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The plaza next to the Exhibition Center is used for large scale festivals including art, music and beer festivals, christmas markets and the launching of marathon or bike races, etc. The plaza contains two major outdoor areas; A blue brick paving perimeter sheltered by a grid of Sapindus trees as the more intimate retail/ F&B market edge of the plaza that wraps around the second space; a vast open plaza with a large reflective pond.  The blue pattern under the trees represents the relationship the Huangpu River or the relationship ‘water’ has had with the sites past and its continued relationship into the future. Also using color in the paving helps brighten the plaza in a city known for its grey days.

The Plaza’s central dancing fountain encourages activity found in the retail/ F&B edge during events to spill inward towards the coolin fountain as a central playful pulse of the plaza. The floor pattern found with the reflective pond graphically celebrates the large ships built there with a sectional profile of a ship cut accurately by laser into the granite floor. The fountain at times becomes ‘decommissioned’ for seasonal activities such as markets and art fairs. The goal and challenge here was to establish a public pedestrian friendly open space that delivers what is needed most; social and cultural inclusiveness for the past while giving promise of a new and better life to those destined to re-inhabit these artifacts of a bygone era.

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Name of the project: Shanghai Shipyard Riverside Park

Short Office name: DLC

Role of the Office in the Project: Landscape Architect

Website: www.dlcdesign.net.cn

Architect: OMA (Exhibition Centre) & Kengo Kuma (Music Hall)

Client: Shanghai East Bund Investment (Group) Co., Ltd

Project location: Huangpu River Edge, Shanghai China

Completion: 2019


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