After 40 years of development, Shenzhen’s Luohu District, the initial gateway connecting Hong Kong and mainland China, is long due for revitalization. Both the district’s urban environment and traditional industries it has relied on no longer match Shenzhen’s growing status as a first-tier Chinese city. Luohu, Shenzhen’s first district, needs a large makeover to strengthen its regional competitiveness.
A lack of planning during Shenzhen’s early period of urbanization and rapid population growth have caused many issues in Luohu today. An outdated transit system, incomplete bicycle and pedestrian networks, poor public realm spatial quality, and oversized industrial and transportation uses traversing the physical center of the district have slowed the area’s growth.
This project aims to systematically improve the public realm and urban structure of Luohu, aligning its urban regeneration efforts with its positioning as the commercial center of Shenzhen, China’s first special economic zone.
Artery of Life
The project’s overall design concept, “From Luohu Bridge to Artery of Life,” uses public open space corridors and transportation hubs as catalysts to rejuvenate Luohu into a more vibrant urban district. With large-scale redevelopment of former industrial and transportation land into vital urban uses and a public space network created along the former railroad, the existing river course, and major public streets, the plan restructured Luohu’s open space system.
In the long-term, the north-south corridor along the existing Guang-Shen Railway and Buji River will be transformed into an “Artery of Life,” a major public open space corridor traversing the center of the district. It will connect the current city center with Luohu Port and the proposed Sungang redevelopment zone, catalyzing urban regeneration and industry renewal of adjacent areas. The Artery of Life will become the spine of the public realm and a new gateway to Hong Kong and the world.
The existing railway station will be decommissioned and converted into an energetic lifestyle hub, moving the railway system underground and strategically inserting more service programs. Its innovative thermo-dynamic façade renovation helps ventilate indoor spaces and provide a more comfortable experience for people inside. The design transforms the building from a monotonous transportation node into a vibrant urban destination.
The front park, integrated with the basement’s programs at the lifestyle hub, allows for more uses and expanded activities from the building, creating a sense of the “city’s living room.” It will not only serve the customers of the hub but also offer a valuable open space for civic use in this dense urban area.
Extending from the spine, the open space network follows major public streets in the district. By holistically improving existing developments along the urban frontage and locating infill projects at strategic locations, the plan created complete streets that promote slow traffic and resiliency, integrate with urban life, and celebrate each public street’s unique character.
Streetscape improvements are addressed in seven aspects: transportation, program, street side building façade, stormwater management, planting, site furnishing, and signage systems.
By limiting the number and width of vehicular travel lanes and promoting public transit over the use of personal cars, street spaces are compacted, contributing to the district’s urban scale. Designated bike lanes integrated into the street section facilitate the “last one kilometer” commute between transit and various destinations. Rows of trees planted along the sidewalks, bicycle lanes, and road medians create a comfortable microclimate, seasonal color, and pedestrian-scaled streets.
Diverse programs organized in various spatial forms will complement the uses of adjacent commercial, office, residential, and civic buildings. Along retail-fringed streets, new urban balconies blend private and public spaces, bringing stores more commercial opportunities while activating the public realm. In the green-buffered streets, surrounded by residential communities and schools, a recreational corridor with a series of program spaces links the neighborhood with nature. Median trees scale down the ceremonial thoroughfare of the city, Shennan Road, while pedestrian spaces on each side of the street are carved into a series of urban living rooms, taking advantage of the large setback to create spaces for cultural exhibition, outdoor dining, and small gatherings, serving nearby office workers and visitors.
With a holistic renovation, the streets will provide more efficient urban services and higher-quality open spaces, serving as major platforms for exciting urban living.
Existing pedestrian overpasses connecting the pedestrian systems on either side of the streets will be renovated to serve people at a range of ability levels. The new pergola structure, made of bamboo and ETFE membrane, will respond to the local climate and shelter people from Shenzhen’s severe weather conditions.
Following the master plan, the design team developed the Streetscape Improvement Design Guidelines, summarizing the design principles and typical design approaches for each major street. The guidelines were adopted during this project’s implementation as well as the renovation of many other streets in Shenzhen.
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For over sixty years, Sasaki has brought together the best of architecture, interior design, planning and urban design, space planning, landscape architecture, and civil engineering to shape the places in which we live. Out of our Boston, Denver, and Shanghai offices we are defining the contours of place and redefining what’s possible along the way. Today, we are a diverse practice of over 300 professionals who share a singular passion for creating authentic, equitable, and inspiring places.