No longer drowning – waving: Suzhou Creek Promenade
In 2008 BAU won an invited competition for the design of a landscape associated with the widening of Changning Road along Suzhou Creek, Shanghai’s second largest river,. Like many world cities Shanghai had turned its back on the river during the industrialization of the twentieth century, but is now removing the industry, cleaning the water, and looking to improve the city’s access to, and experience of the river.
Just prior to the start of this project a concrete flood barrier had been constructed along the length of the river. This resulted in a sidewalk squeezed uncomfortably between seven lanes of heavy traffic and a concrete wall blocking all views of the river. By raising the riverside sidewalk to the top of the flood barrier, pedestrians gained river views, and vertical separation from the arterial traffic. In this space between the road and river, plants and trees screen the traffic and, along with the timber decking surface, enhance the riverside character.
The wave form of the riverside balustrade has become a major landmark in the area. It smoothly integrates seating, elbow height leaning ledges, and areas cantilevered over the river allowing views into the water. The frequency of the wave provides a kinetic sculptural experience for those passing by on both land and water.
Despite being a very narrow space this project does provide 3.5km of new river edge and sidewalk that not only provides safety for pedestrians, but also becomes a major link in the city’s public open space network.
The project includes the renovation of Fenling Park and it’s pavilions, and the creation of a new children’s playground. In recognition of Suzhou Creek’s historical role as a shipping route, this playground integrates components of a former cargo ship into its fabric. A life boat, bollards, and part of a steel hull have been salvaged from a ship wrecking yard in nearby Jiangsu province. Then transported down the Yangtze River and up Suzhou Creek and craned into place to provide a sculptural, historical and sustainable play place.