Located between a mountain and river in rapidly growing Changsha, Lianjiang Park commands a critical juncture between city, nature, and a changing way of life. While the Lianjiang region had always been intimately linked to the water, recent urban development has resulted in a significant loss of wetlands, habitats, and the culture they give rise to.
In response to a government-proposed 3-square-kilometer new development zone with a 12-ha reservoir for urban flood control, the design team envisioned a comprehensive water system as the armature of the development, with the reservoir becoming a multifunctional open space in the city. Incorporating a 20-meter grade change, lake, wetlands, creeks, hills, terraces and islands are sculpted from existing topography, serving to store and filter drainage from surrounding urban areas before it flows into the river. Expanding the perimeter of the water body through an undulating shoreline, with a series of bays and inlets, means the ecological functions and experiential features of the reservoir are maximized along the edge. Introducing water treatment infrastructure to address water pollution and increase flood capacity creates a variety of habitats, thereby restoring water-based ecologies and cultural habits. A wide variety of recreational amenities are planned by creek and lake, including waterfront promenades and plazas, wetland gardens, education center and sports fields. Three trails traverse varying levels of the park, connecting a variety of programmed spaces and distinct landscapes. The plant selection reinforces a unique sense of place with wetland grasses, tea terraces, bamboo forest, metasequoia islands, and lotus ponds recall the traditional Lianjiang landscape. Through the synthesis of topography, hydrology and vegetation, Lianjiang Park becomes a 20-hectare living green machine, integrating human activities and serving as valuable model for sustainable urban expansion. Taking on the challenge of managing polluted runoff, the project creates a sustainable landscape where people and wildlife can find refuge and rejuvenation – under the surface as well as above.