international design studio, sasaki, has unveiled their plans to transform the yangtze riverfront in the chinese city of wuhan. in collaboration with OMA and gensler, the masterplan embraces the local ‘river culture’ that has been formed by centuries of close relationship with the river. the project envisions a sequence of recreational environments on the waterfront that addresses issues of flooding.

sasaki embraces local river culture to transform yangtze waterfront in china

images © sasaki

 

 

the yangtze is asia’s longest river, however the cities that sit along it’s banks are suffering increasingly from flood damage. sasaki‘s design therefore uses this issue to create a rich regional ecology, while also reinforcing the wuhan’s local identity and relationship with the river. the masterplan proposal envisions a dynamic recreational experience that adapts to the rise and fall of the water levels.

sasaki embraces local river culture to transform yangtze waterfront in china

 

 

the ‘river culture’ is so deeply embedded in wuhan that people still frequent the riverfront parks even when they are flooded – enjoying the rare excitement of such intimate contact with the water. the design of the park celebrates this and leverages frequent flooding events as a vital driver of place-making strategies. much of the programming along the river is designed to celebrate the river’s spontaneity and incorporate its flooding as an essential element of the ever-changing landscape.

sasaki embraces local river culture to transform yangtze waterfront in china

 

 

through strategic dredging and grading, the design creates heterogeneous micro-environments that host a wide variety of distinct wetland ecosystems in the mudflats. nuanced topography, coupled with the river’s frequent water level fluctuations, enable complex plant communities to grow. from emergent marshlands to vernal pools, these typologies create an evolving landscape character throughout the year.

sasaki embraces local river culture to transform yangtze waterfront in china

 

 

a series of sinuous secondary streams are graded to emerge in the mudflats during mid-high water levels, and provide alternative passages for aquatic wildlife, as well as safe corridors for kayaking. this strategy creates a tranquil experience amid tall marsh grasses, even when the yangtze’s waters roar. during dry months, these stream beds function as informal pathways for visitors to explore, slicing through the dense grasses.

sasaki embraces local river culture to transform yangtze waterfront in china

 

 

alongside logs for turtles to loaf on and submerged fish structures, waterfowl nesting platforms are installed in the open marsh. discreet birding stations within the tree groves offer viewing opportunities for wildlife enthusiasts. recreational spaces are arranged based on careful calculations of the dispersing distances for the key wildlife species in the river basin such that they do not intrude into the primary habitats. during floods, the recreational fields in the mudflats are temporarily returned to the river and repopulated by fish and waterfowl.

sasaki embraces local river culture to transform yangtze waterfront in china

 

 

wuhan’s rich industrial history is also celebrated, with historical landmarks highlighted throughout in the riverfront park. though largely abandoned, the site’s massive railyards and remnants of freight train ferry terminals have a strong visual presence. this heavy-duty infrastructure offers engaging platforms for park visitors to more intimately experience the river, while a series of barges are connected to form a floating promenade. this promenade rises and falls with the river, and delineates a uniquely dynamic space in between. the design of the riverfront park repurposes these industrial relics as vibrant waterfront hubs of new cultural and recreational uses, including floating plazas, restaurants, galleries, and even a floating community garden.

sasaki embraces local river culture to transform yangtze waterfront in china

sasaki embraces local river culture to transform yangtze waterfront in china sasaki embraces local river culture to transform yangtze waterfront in china       sasaki embraces local river culture to transform yangtze waterfront in china

sasaki embraces local river culture to transform yangtze waterfront in china

sasaki embraces local river culture to transform yangtze waterfront in china

 

 

project info:

 

project name: ‘wuhan yangtze riverfront park’

project location: wuhan, china

design: sasaki

size: 503 hectares