Zhongshan Shipyard Park

Turenscape: This park was built upon an old shipyard and brown field. The design explains itself as to how landscape architects can turn a wrecked site into a beautiful, meaningful and functional place, as well as to the important role landscape architects can play in urban renovation.

The following aspects of this project make it unique:

1. Its unique history: “ A small site with big stories”
The shipyard was originally built in the 1950s and went bankrupt in 1999. Though small in scale, it reflects the remarkable 50 year history of socialist China, including the cultural revolution of the 1960s and 70s . It is therefore a space to remember and tell stories to those who did not experience this period of history.

2. A challenging setting: Water level fluctuations, tree preservation and design with machines
The site inventory of this small former shipyard included an existing lake of fluctuating water levels, existing trees and vegetation, and the wreckages of docks, cranes, rails, water towers and other machinery. These factors challenged the design in three ways:
– Challenge 1: fluctuating water levels:. With the existing lake connected through the Qijiang River to the sea, water levels fluctuate up to 1.1 meters daily. To meet this challenge, a network of bridges were constructed at various elevations and integrated with terraced planting beds so that native weeds from the salt march can be grown and visitors can feel the breath of the ocean.
– Challenge 2: Balance river width regulations for flood control while protecting old ficus trees along the riverbank. Regulations of the Water Management Bureau required the river corridor at the east side of the site to be expanded from 60 meters to 80 meters to manage water flow. This meant that a series old banyan trees were to be cut down in order to widen the river channel. Our approach was to dig a parallel ditch of 20 meters width on the other side of the trees, leaving them intact as an island of preservation.
– Challenge 3: Remnant rust docks and machinery – nothing as gigantic or unusual as a gas works or steel factory. These elements, if left intact because of a pure preservation or ecological restoration ethic, might actually be a distraction or nuisance for local residents. Three approaches are taken to artistically and ecologically dramatize the spirit of the site using these elements: preservation, modification of old forms and creation of new forms. New forms include a network of straight paths, a red box and a green box that dramatize the character of the site in an artistic way.

The design especially pay attention on the following aspects:
1. Site opportunities and design in details
From the preservation of vegetation along the old lake shore, the protection of old banyan trees along the river side, the reuse of rails, the decoration of water towers and the placing and reuse of dilapidated machines, to the creation of the red box, all original required elements are carefully designed to fulfill the design intention set forth at project inception.
2. Functionalism
Function reigns supreme in this design. This is evident in the network of paths that link unique locations and exits, the reuse of docks for tea houses and club houses, the accessible terraces planted with native plants, the light tower made from the former water tower, and the paving under trees where shadow boxing can be practiced.
3. Relationship to the urban context.
The park merges into the urban fabric through a network of paths and urban facilities that were extended into the park, such as docks that are reused for tea houses (local people customarily drink tea in tea houses). Water elements merge via the inlet from the sea that fluctuates along with ocean tides.
4. Environmental responsibility.
The principle of reducing, reutilizing and recycling natural and man-made materials is well followed in this project. Original vegetation, soil and natural habitats were preserved, just as only native plants were used throughout the park. Machines, docks and other structures were reutilized for educational, aesthetic and functional purposes.
This park is environmentally friendly, educational, and full of cultural and historical meanings. It calls people to pay attention to culture and history that has not yet been designated as formal or “traditional.” It is about the common man, as well as an environment ethic that states, “Weeds are beautiful.”

Landscape Architecture: Turenscape, Beijing
Name of Project: Zhongshan Shipyard Park
Project Location (city/state/zip): Zhongshan City, Guangdong Province, China
Date of Completion: May 2001
Name of Photographer: Kongjian Yu, Yang Cao
Awarded: 2002 ASLA Honor Award
Text: Turenscape