SWA was selected to conceptualize, design, and realize a rare find in bustling Shanghai—a pedestrian mall (Gold Street). The corridor occupies three city blocks, is flanked by 20-story high-rise residential towers with retail at street level and book-ended by SWA-designed parks. Creating an iconic presence and enlivening the area, the mall features plazas, fountains, cafés, dining and retail terraces, an amphitheater, and a monumental raised, tree-lined terrace.
Centrally located in the densely populated Gubei district, the pedestrian mall offers the public a unique open space and a sanctuary from the hectic city. Gubei Boulevard, a major commercial spine, runs along the site’s western edge. A majestic plaza, featuring large fountains, opens up to grab the street there and forms a buffer between the pedestrian promenade and the busy thoroughfare; the eastern opening is more subdued, befitting that end’s residential street.
The landscape design merges modern elements with some classical French motifs. Tall gingko trees line the retail promenade, creating a visual transition from the surrounding tunnel-like towers to the mall’s intimate gardens. Contrasting with the city’s hard-edged environment are evergreen camphor trees that ensure a welcoming canopy year-round, while deciduous cherry trees provide seasonal interest. Seeking to engage all the senses, the landscape architects also included fragrant plants in their design, such as sweet olive trees with their tiny yellow flowers that exude the scent of ripe peaches and apricots.
The Gubei District houses a growing community of expatriates and their families. The social ecology of this progressive neighborhood was also a major influence on the design. With little indoor-outdoor differentiation, retail, gallery, and restaurant activity flows seamlessly out onto the spacious 30-foot-wide promenade. Graphic paving and custom site furniture contribute to this fluid connection from building to open space.
The notion of the outdoor living room is carried throughout the pedestrian mall. Separated from the retail promenade by a few steps, the central plaza’s abundant benches and shade provides residents with a place to interact as a community. Parents sit and watch their children roller skate while older residents practice tai chi in the smaller garden parks.
With inspired design details—like pavers that fit together like Chinese temple roof tiles and architectural follies sitting like glass jewels in the middle of each block—the landscape architects created a space that is both functional and beautiful. The overall effect is a comfortable human space amid grandiose high-rise towers.
Situated just across the bay from Hong Kong, the city of Shenzhen has transformed from a small fishing town of 30,000 to a booming city of over 10 million people in 40 years – and has grown over 200 times its original size since 1980. Along the way, the character of Shenzhen’s bayfront was radically altered. Over 65 km2 of marsh and shallow bay were filled to ...
San Jacinto Plaza
SWA’s redesign of San Jacinto Plaza, a historic gathering place in El Paso’s downtown business district provides a state-of-the-art urban open space, while protecting and celebrating the history and culture of the site. The project was the result of an intensive community process involving input from a wide range of constituents. Active programming, environmen...
After China reached out to the rest of the world through its open-door policy, Shekou (part of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone) became an important gateway for foreigners to discover the mainland. Its urban public realm, however, suffered from rapid urbanization and lacked attractive parks and facilities for the burgeoning population. With an increased awar...
Embracing the legacy of Scottsdale and re-imagining its development possibilities, La Via is positioned as a village of the future that looks beyond simple mixed-use functionality. By aggregating innovation-centric businesses, artists-in-residence, and a rich network of open spaces, La Via will engender unique associations and collaborations that will propel N...