A New Waterline for Shanghai

Agence Ter: In Shanghai, over less than 30 years, the East bank of the Huangpu River has been transformed from a swamp landscape over an industrial area to a patchwork of different urban and commercial activities, cutting a fundamental link between the inhabitants and their river. In 2016, the municipality of Shanghai has launched an international design competition to initiate a large scale redevelopment process of 22km of urban waterfront. Starting 5 km north from the historical bund, the project continues for 17km southwards of it, connecting residential and commercial districts, such as Lujiazui Financial District, to major equipments like for example the Mercedes Arena, Houtan Park, Shanghai Oriental Sport center and the upcoming Expo Park – reconversion of part of the 2010 World Expo Site into a park of 190 ha, designed by Agence Ter. Five teams (West 8, KCAP, HASSEL Ltd, Terrain Studio and Agence Ter) competed together to define the new waterfront of Pudong Shanghai.

Agence Ter won LILA – Landezine International Landscape Award 2017 for their project Park At the Docks in Saint Ouen, Paris

During the competition, Agence Ter and Team proposed to create a new way of life on the river side, to give high visibility and strong identity to this metropolitan space by encouraging varied uses and inhabitants’ appropriation along its entire length. The project redefines the space of the bank to create a living interface between neighborhoods and the river, a new width articulating soft transport, ecology, public spaces, activities and economy. As a counterpart of the famous Skyline of Shanghai that would not exist without the river light reflection, the project aimed to design a bank as a reflection of its city.



To reach this aim and to insure the coherence in time and space of such a big and complex project, Agence Ter and Team proposed to define the main guideline as an association between the need to create a major continuity and the need to organize the different flows and activities. A triptych of paths, orchestrating the major uses, has been defined. The Main Path, principal artery of the bank, would be a comfortable and attractive pedestrian promenade offering a range of permanent and temporary animations and services (street food, playgrounds, parks, shops…). The Sports Path caters mainly to cyclist, joggers and fans of new urban sports. In addition to its sport field function, it would also become a new soft transport axis for the city, connecting numerous residential and business neighborhoods. The Discovery Path invites to appreciate the richness of the river bank and it’s natural, cultural and architectural heritage.

In complement to the linear approach, the project aims to bring together the neighborhood to the river by initiating new spatial links and habits. In this context, Agence Ter and Team proposed the construction of new plazas and river perspectives, urban hubs on existing ferry stations and connections to the metro system. The river bank should become the extension of the house of Shanghai’s residents.

Maintaining the balance between unity and diversity on a 22km continuous public space (designed by several design teams) is one of the most complex tasks of this project. In order to avoid as a result a patchwork of very different green spaces, 5 design keys have been proposed:
– Considering the bank’s width as an ecosystem: improve its natural dynamics and reinforce its role in the city by keeping the low vegetation on the river side to allow appreciation of the river light and large panoramas and on the other hand by densifying vegetation on the city side to provide shadow and fresh air.
– Returning the constraint of the almost 2m high continuous floodwall to create a series of terraces all along the bank and to diversify the viewpoints on the river landscape.
– Building three strings of strong identity through a system of ‘milestone’ lighthouses spread all along the bank, through the continuity of the cycling and jogging lane flooring and through a linear lightning system.
– Rather than establishing a unique landscape on the full 22km, defining sequences with a common identity. Each of them can have multiple expressions in coherence with the heritage of the bank and the future development of the adjacent neighborhoods.

In May 2016, Agence Ter and Team won the international competition for the East Bank of the Huangpu River. From this moment, Agence Ter has been assisting the East Bank Group to determine the guide lines and to design the continuity over 22km. In this task Agence Ter has been joined by other offices like West 8 and Aecom. In parallel to this work, two other international competitions have taken place. The first one was to design 12 bridges that would complete the continuity by passing over the branch canals. The second one described to design the 22 lighthouses that mark out every kilometer of the river bank. Today, 22km of cycling line and jogging track have already been constructed as well as three lighthouses. Moreover, many sequences of the bank are in the process of design, construction or rehabilitation. Within this process, Agence Ter has the design responsibility for over 7 km of river bank, hand in hand with many other teams that are involved in other parts of this unique project, such as:

Shanghai urban planning and design research institute
Shanghai landscape architecture design research institute
Shanghai urban construction and design research institute
Shanghai municipal engineering design Institute
Shanghai academy of landscape architecture science and planning
Shanghai mechanized Construction Group
Agence Ter
West 8 Urban Design & Landscape Architecture b .v.

Design land Collaborative – Landscape Architects and planners
Jacques Ferrier architecture
Atelier Liu Yuyang Architects
Atelier Deshaus
Atelier GOM
Atelier Archmixing
Scenic Architecture
Atelier Z+
Original design Company
Tongji Architectural Design Group
Shanghai PDAD & Research Institute
Planning and design institute of water and transport
Edging landscape design
School of Ecological and environmental sciences of East China Normal University

Project details
Client: Shanghai East Bund Investment Group Co., Ltd.
Design Team :
Agence Ter Urbanistes Paysagistes (lead consultant),
JFA Architects, SCS, AND, Concepto
Area : 350 ha
Timing : Design & construction 2016-2019

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