Restoring Heritage and Realizing Ambition for a Wetland Water City
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DETAILS

LocationShenzhen, China
ClientLaguarda Low Architects
Size141 ha

The Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal is the longest and largest canal system in the world, its 2,500-year history inextricably linked with a civilization reliant on water for communication, trade and defense. The Grand Canal started from Yuhang in the south (today’s Hangzhou) and reached Zhuojun in the north (today’s Beijing).  A UNESCO world heritage site today, the Grand Canal is a monumental civil engineering project created by the Chinese people and one of the symbols of Chinese cultural status.  This public space improvement project focuses on the section of the canal located in the northern part of the Zhejiang province, which has been significant for water transport along the southern Yangtze River since the Sui Dynasty.  Here, designers were challenged to transform the remnants of the 1950s-era explosion of heavy industry – closed factories and power plants once reliant on the canal for transportation—and imagine the canal’s revitalization as the center of a newly conceived, memorable “wetland water city.”  According to the ambitious urban design concept proposed by Hangzhou Municipal Government, improvements should strive for “integrating mountains and rivers, combining lakes and cities, embracing and linking rivers, and connecting people and water.”  Hangzhou’s goal is to build an epochal and memorable place that reflects the natural beauty, culture, ecology, and vitality of the North New Town, and that lays a foundation for an industrial system characterized by “culture and art” in the surrounding areas.  This revitalization strives to reclaim the canal’s heritage, demonstrate ecological low-carbon development and offer an opportunity for people to experience the city’s natural beauty in the context of an internationally-renowned public waterfront space.

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