Shanghai Zhangjiabang Park - Sasaki Associates
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Shanghai Zhangjiabang Park

Sasaki Associates

17 December 2015

Zhangjiabang is the first of Shanghai’s eight planned “green wedges” and will become its largest public park. A catalyst for ecological and urban renewal, Zhangjiabang creates an unprecedented amount of wetland and woodland habitat that redefines the natural environment in a city whose residents have increasingly fewer opportunities to experience nature. Focusing on the existing canal and its tributaries, the landscape strategy improves water quality and rebuilds the biodiversity of the region’s aquatic ecosystems. Air quality and thermal comfort are designed through careful spatial configurations utilizing landform, planting strategies, waterbodies, and prevailing winds to create microclimates that relieve Shanghai’s stifling urban heat island. Adjacent development is also integrated, reconnecting the urban fabric on either side of the park. New transit lines that link Zhangjiabang to downtown Shanghai establish urban entrances to the park that provide an opportunity for mixed-use destinations energized by their adjacency to the park.

CONNECTED TO THE CITY - Totaling 8.4 square kilometers, the 4.94 square kilometer park is bounded by 3.46 square kilometers of planned medium density, transit-oriented, mixed-use development. Current conditions consist of degraded and vacant industrial parcels, which are consolidated into a unified public open space anchored by two key mixed-use urban cores. With 4 metro stations adjacent to the site, Zhangjiabang’s urban program features a diverse, mixed-use typology with a focus on civic amenities that the park is an integral public amenity energized by public plazas, cultural institutions, open markets, and residential neighborhoods. Zhangjiabang’s recreational program maintains particular focus on the interpretive elements of the park’s environmental story, utilizing trails through active and passive recreational zones that provide critical green space access to the city’s under-served population. The multiple connective trails offer continuous human-scale interest, changing surface, and ecological context as they transition through forests, groves, wetlands, meadows, and destination nodes. The urban spine trail threads through primary event spaces and provides a strong link between the two urban centers on both sides of the park. Throughout the diverse habitats, the 26.5 kilometer trail system provides 18.5 kilometers of universally accessible paths and 8 kilometers of unpaved trails. The urban component of Zhangjiabang adheres to best practice standards for green infrastructure in order to reduce stormwater quantity and further improve water quality throughout the park. Development guidelines strongly advocate for green roofs, cisterns, and other appropriate site-scale techniques for the prevention of stormwater runoff and the sustainable reuse of grey water.

A RESTORED ECOSYSTEM - Shanghai is situated at the delta of the Yangtze River and spreads across a broad alluvial floodplain beside the East China Sea. Historically, the Yangtze floodplain was characterized by open complexes of wetlands. The region is critically located at a stopover junction along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, which is traveled by over 50 million migratory water birds per year. Recent decades of industrialization have resulted in environmental conditions so severely degraded that little wildlife remains. Total bird diversity in the city has decreased 63% from historic surveys. The imperative for landscape restoration in Shanghai is self-evident and this restoration is the driver of the design strategy for Zhangjiabang Park. Embedded within 215 hectares of mixed forests, Zhangjiabang Park will include 46 hectares of emergent wetland habitats to serve 113 hectares of open water across the site. The existing Zhangjiabang Canal and its tributaries require comprehensive ecological restoration to mitigate poor water quality and rebuild the biodiversity of the city’s aquatic ecosystems. This restored aquatic network must also provide flood protection as well as suitable habitats for wildlife, including the millions of migratory water birds that arrive each winter. A bold ecological vision includes the dredging and re-grading of an existing lake into a 31 hectare monomictic lake with a diverse bathymetry, extensive constructed fish habitats, and a conservation hatchery to support regional aquatic systems restoration. A large emergent wetland along the eastern shore of the lake is designed as a wading bird sanctuary. Cut and dredge material from across the site is utilized to create a rolling terrain that increases landscape diversity for microhabitats and buffers the site from noise and air pollution from roadways. Canals are re- envisioned as streams with gentle cross-slopes that maximize nutrient removal and reduction of suspended solids.

A COMFORTABLE MICROCLIMATE - The design process for Zhangjiabang included rigorous climate modeling with the goal of maximizing thermal comfort and air quality benefits through landforms, planting strategies, and calculated spatial configurations. Landscape program and recreational grounds are configured such that alternating forest canopy, waterbodies and open fields are aligned with prevailing southeast summer winds to enhance passive cooling. This microclimate design is richly informed by published scientific data, which was employed to quantify the socio- ecological benefits of ecosystem services provided by the master plan. An estimated minimum of 100,000 trees will be installed in the park with an anticipated total ecosystem services value of over US $20 million per year. Existing data suggests that the microclimate of this park will be 3-7 °C cooler than downtown Shanghai. Zhangjiabang’s relatively deep lake will also provide increased heat transfer and evaporative cooling at an upwind position that will decrease downwind temperatures throughout the entire park.

Sasaki Associates - Our practice comprises architecture, planning, urban design, landscape architecture, graphic design, interior design, and civil engineering, as well as financial planning and software development. Among these disciplines, we collaborate in equilibrium, and each is recognized nationally and internationally for design excellence. On our teams, practitioners from diverse backgrounds come together to create unique, contextual, enduring solutions. Our integrated approach yields rich ideas, surprising insights, unique partnerships, and a broad range of resources for our clients. This approach enables us to work seamlessly and successfully from planning to implementation. While our disciplines offer depth of expertise, our studio structure engenders breadth, innovation, and interdisciplinary collaboration. From our headquarters in metro Boston, USA, and with an office in Shanghai, we work in a variety of settings-locally, nationally, and globally.

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