THE HISTORY OF HUAIHAI STREET
Huaihai street, built in 1994 and around 560 meters, is one of the famous commercial streets in Suzhou, China. It is in the core area of Suzhou’s high-tech zone and surrounded by Japanese and South Korean companies.
The gathering of immigrant communities has brought a strong oriental cultural characteristic and economic vitality to the street. It carries the sense of belonging of the immigrant community, or the place for foodies, it is also the intersection of the folk culture between Suzhou and Japan.
However, it fell into recession with problems, like lack of urban infrastructure, the old-fashioned building volumes, the dilapidated public space, the deficient supporting facilities, the disordered traffic management, and so on. Moreover, the epidemic led to recession problems worst.
In June 2020, Huaihai Street sprung to a new life and turned into a modern urban space with lasting vitality under the premise of not affecting the normal business of shops.
THE RENOVATION OF THE HUAIHAI STREET
This project aims to improve the image of the street systematically and comprehensively while meticulously elevate the spatial quality of its public realms.
The design bases on the cultural characteristics of Suzhou and its Japanese communities, raises the core strategy of “Restore the Road to the Street and Let the Street Warm People’s Life”. The design team hopes the renovation could turn the efficiency-oriented “street” into a peaceful and interesting “street”.
1. Adjust the Cross-Section of Street, Restore the Road into Street
Before the renovation, the inefficient road sections and lacking urban management has resulted in problems like low traffic efficiency, deficient slow traffic system, fragmented pedestrian space.
The street cross-section is adjusted to enhance the road efficiency and create a safe slow traffic environment, and active street space. Meanwhile, the city piping system was renewed and intelligent facilities were laid, which improves the running efficiency of the street.
a. Expanding the pedestrian area width and divide the area reasonably by introducing outside sitting area, flower boxes, and path light.
b. Increasing the road efficiency by canceling the roadside parking and changing the two-way road into one-way road.
c. The outside sitting area is introduced, so the shop's space can be expanded and enhance interaction between pedestrians and the street.
2. Enrich the Space Atmosphere and make the street warm life
Before the renovation, there are a wide range of problems exists, like inconsistent street interface, dilapidated building façade, worn-out street furniture, inactive commerce. The overall space was inefficient and chaotic. Therefore, multiple strategies are integrated into the streetscape design. The renovation follows the principle of creating an open, comfortable, distinctive, and visually rich spatial environment experience.
- The memorial archway
The original neon-lit memorial archway in the north had been demolished due to the development of the city. The project invited the local and Japanese team to design the new memorial archway as a symbol to bring the memory back.
- Building façade
The original building façades are classified and renovated to create a rich and organized interface. This not only enhances the quality of street space but also meets the requirement of visual experience of walking in pedestrian's perspective. With the expression of color and material, the façade contrasts with the unique shops and storefronts, gives each building with its own personality and appearance.
- Signboard design
The update of signboard design is the major part of the project. The personalized signboards are not only enriching of the street’s space but also improve the identification of the stores.
The high-density and well-arranged vertically signboards immediately fill the street with a commercial atmosphere. Furthermore, the “one store, one design” customized approach enriches the street interface. The façade design also provides a flexible commercial interface with the possibility of autonomous upgrading.
- Lighting Ambience
The rhythmical building floodlight, sequential path lighting and street lamp, various holiday decorative lights, signboard and storefront’s light creates a rich, warm, and vibrant space atmosphere and highlight the street’s identity.
- Greeny street
At the same time, the landscape team cooperates with the Japanese team to reshape the street landscapes and pocket parks. The Sakura Park and the four pocket parks integrate the essence of the gardens of Suzhou and Japan to construct a pleasant and greenery public space.
3. Respect the Street Culture and Upgrade Brand Image
The project refines the original Japanese style of the street into cultural symbols, explores deep into the local spiritual core of Suzhou. Combining the commercial characteristics of “night-time economy” to create a unique brand difference and empower vitality
The new VI system, the mascot and a series of derivative works, including books, bags, t-shirt and so on can lead to a unified logo and image perception for the young vitality of Huaihai Street, also in favor of the long-term promotion, communication and marketing of the street.
Additionally, a fun-filled street cannot be separated from art and culture. Two art exhibitions, “Tracing Hall—— China-Japanese Cultural Exchange Exhibition” and “Unfolding Hall——Urban Renovation Exhibition Hall, excavate and present the local culture and cultural exchange with multiple artistic languages. The installation of mechanical art animals adds a sense of future to the street, creating the daily life of Huaihai Street with more cultural charm.
After the renovation, Huaihai Street quickly became one of the popular tourist destinations. The renovation project brings the scene of a brilliant back to people’s daily life and the efficiency-oriented “road” turns into an interesting “street”.
Wancheng Urban Design Research (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd. is a think-tank of urban development planning and consulting institution. We focus on how to build better cities and believe that “Urban Vision”, “Public Interest” and “Business Sustainability” are the most critical tripartite balance in urban development.
Value Design and Consultants （Shenzhen）Co., Ltd. is mainly engaged in Urban Planning, Architectural Design, Design Research, and other relevant work. We take the value as the starting point and emphasize the realization and implementation of the design.
Members of both teams come from different fields, including urban planning, sociology, economics, design, real estate development, artists, and curators. We believe that the new city is no longer a constant upgrading of function and hardware, but a mixed and flexible space that is diverse, changeable, softer, more humane, caring, and sustainable.