Turenscape: Built on a brownfield of a former industrial site, Houtan Park is a regenerative living landscape on Shanghai’s Huangpu riverfront. The park’s constructed wetland, ecological flood control, reclaimed industrial structures and materials, and urban agriculture are integral components of an overall restorative design strategy to treat polluted river water and recover the degraded waterfront in an aesthetically pleasing way.
2 Project Narratives
2.1 Objectives and Challenges
The site is a narrow linear 14-hectare (34.6 acre) band located along the Huangpu River waterfront in Shanghai, China. This brownfield, previously owned by a steel factory and a shipyard, had few industrial structures remaining and the site was largely used as a landfill and lay-down yard for industrial materials.
Objectives：The objective of the park design was to: create a green Expo, accommodate for a large influx of visitors during the exposition from May to October, demonstrate green technologies, transform a unique space to make the Expo an unforgettable event, and transition into a permanent public waterfront park after the Expo.
Challenges：The first challenge was restoring the degraded environment. The site is a brownfield littered with industrial and construction debris both on the surface and buried throughout the site. The water of Huangpu River is highly polluted with a national water quality ranking of Lower Grade V, the lowest grade on a scale of I-V and is considered unsafe for swimming and recreation and devoid of aquatic life. The eminent site design challenge was to transform this degraded landscape into a safe and pleasant public space. The second challenge was to improve flood control. The existing concrete floodwall was designed to protect against a 1,000-year flood event with a top elevation of 6.7 meters (22 feet), but it is rigid and lifeless. The 2.1 meter (6-foot) daily tidal fluctuation creates a muddy and littered shoreline and is currently inaccessible to the public. A conventional retaining wall would continue to limit accessibility and preclude habitat creation along the water’s edge, so an alternative flood control design proposal was necessary. The third challenge was the site itself. The area is long and narrow locked between the Huangpu River and an urban express way with water frontage is over 1.7 kilometers (one mile) in length but averaging only 30-80 meters (100-265 feet) in width.
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Landscape Architecture: Turenscape (Beijing Turen Design Institute)
Project: Shanghai Houtan Park: Landscape as a living system
Location: Shanghai, 2010 Shanghai Expo Park, China
Size: 14 hectares
Project Type: Park, ecological restoration
Date of Completion: 2010
Text & photos: Turenscape