Kuilei Lake Greenway System — Turning a reservoir into a destination

April 13th, 2021
Kunshan, China

Located within Kunshan’s Lake District, Kuilei Lake contributes to the unique identity of the region alongside 4 other lakes that anchor the extensive water network of both Kunshan West and Bacheng District. Kuilei Lake has a unique history as a valuable hydrological resource for all of Kunshan, relied heavily upon as a drinking water resource for Kunshan’s residents. Regional development and a booming tourism industry, however, has placed increased pressure of urbanization upon this area and threatens to effect Kuilei Lake’s ecological health. Thanks to preservation efforts of the city to preserve an important vital piece of water infrastructure, Kuilei Lake is the last major waterbody of the region to remain naturally bucolic.

To transform Kuilei Lake into a comprehensive ecological, cultural and educational resource for the city, a sensitively designed bike trail system will connect the shores of the lake to residents of Kunshan with eco-recreational amenities and scenic routes. As a preserved cultural gem of the area, Kuilei Lake now has the potential to become the last sanctuary of Kunshan’s Lake District.

As the only area left within the Kunshan West District where farms, villages and aquacultural land can be experienced, Kuilei Lake has abundant cultural, ecological, educational and recreational value. With ecology and water treatment upheld as priorities for Kuilei Lake, the vision of the design is to preserve, and connect this last sanctuary of Kunshan’s Lake District for the enjoyment of future generations of the district.

A series of ecological parks and entry nodes circle Kuilei Lake and are linked together by a circuit of primary and secondary at bike trails. These nodes respond in program to the land-uses of the adjacent context and connect visitors to the lake with scenic views and a variety of programs.

Four typologies of bike trails create important circulation connections by strategically responding to their locations, minimally impacting the surrounding environment, and immersing visitors into cultural and scenic nature.

The Seasonal Flowering Farm embraces the rich agricultural history of the area, offering amenities that take advantage of the wide open view including a hot air balloon station and bike rental facilities.

The bird watching station on the eastern shore features an elevated ramp and rest platforms to access the tree canopy and offer views of the water through lush forest.

The Water Treatment Area is essential ecological infrastructure formed by a network of retention ponds and wetlands, with access via elevated boardwalks avoid impacting the wetland ecosystem below.

The Urban Gateway Park connects Kuilei Lake to the Miaojing River Eco-Corridor, welcoming visitors with an iconic look out tower, waterfront terraces, a kayak center and activity lawn.

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