Miaojing River Corridor — A Green Infrastructure Park in the Making


September 7th, 2021
Kunshan, China




We are thrilled to see the ongoing construction of Kunshan Miaojing River Corridor! This complex design and infrastructure will be an essential asset to the community and environment.

The Miaojing River Corridor in West Kunshan transforms a historically preserved waterway into six linear kilometers of public park and ecological infrastructure. The project aims to drive the green infrastructure development of Kunshan West with the River acting as the central axis of abundant ecological value and recreational programs for surrounding communities.

In 2014, discussions began around transforming this hidden gem into a community resource. The initial site study was conducted in 2017, with our studio designing a conceptual framework for the entire site. Our planning and ecological strategies won an ASLA-NCC Award of Excellence for Research, Planning, Analysis and Communication in 2018. After years of design and client feedback, phase one construction began in Fall 2020 and is expected to wrap in Summer 2022. Three and a half linear kilometers of park space with plazas, playgrounds, lawns and kiosks will open to the public. Phase two of construction will then commence, with construction wrapping a few years later. Miaojing River Corridor, from concept to construction, will span at least ten years, with countless hours of dedication.

From signage to pavement, concept to construction, we have been refining the design to ensure maximum environmental impact and public benefit. Our studio is proud to see this park come to life, with each thoughtfully composed element given material shape. This public space could not have happened without the local supervisors, and our client, Kunshan City Construction Investment Development Company, Shanghai Longilat Architectural Design & Research Institute Corporation (LDG), and Hangzhou Xiaoshan Zhenda Landscaping Co., Ltd.



PROJECT BACKGROUND
A 20 minute commute to Shanghai, the West of Kunshan is evolving into a high-tech livable city in its own right. Traditionally a watertown, Kunshan’s culture is defined by its dependency on its waterways that support the central transportation and economy of the area through extensive canals, rivers and lakes.

A main artery of Kunshan’s water supply, the Miaojing River has historically served as the city’s main aqueduct, connecting the Kuilei Lake reservoir to Old Town Kunshan. Strict preservation of this channel has produced a large corridor of untouched ecological potential. With a recent transfer of the aqueduct into an expansive piping system, the Miaojing River has transitioned into a new open space resource available for the city to experience.

Miaojing River has the potential to drive the green infrastructure development of Kunshan West with the Miaojing River as the central axis of abundant ecological value and recreational programs for surrounding communities. Anchoring the framework of Kunshan West, the vision is to designate Miaojing River as an invaluable natural resource for the future of Kunshan.


VISION
The open space strategy of Kunshan West seeks to address existing ecological issues and restore the corridor’s ecological health to grow alongside the city’s urban development. The Miaojing River design aims to improve the ecology, accessibility and programs of the corridor to in turn drive the healthy development of open space within the overall district.


ECOLOGICAL DESIGN
The design prioritizes the ecological value of the Miaojing River by employing green infrastructure methods within both the central eco-corridor and at the urban interface of the site. Through the preservation of the central eco-corridor, using reforestation to increase site biodiversity, and establishing healthy riparian habitat, the Miaojing River supports humans and local flora and fauna.


ACCESSIBILITY
Access to the Miaojing River Corridor will be improved by a system of trails that are designed in response to their environment with ecological sensitivity and connectivity as priorities. Welcoming visitors with plazas at major intersections and also utilizing elevated boardwalks in ecologically sensitive areas to minimize disturbance to habitats.


PROGRAM
The Miaojing River will be transformed into a recreational resource for Kunshan West by offering programs within the outer channels that correspond to local land-use. The Campus Waterfront portion of the site links the tech and educational campuses by providing more convenient landscape amenities for those working and studying in the area, while the Community Waterfront portion serves the residents of adjacent neighborhoods by providing convenient facilities for families to enjoy. Amenities are available along routes along the river’s outer channels and available open space, including event hubs, an elevated forest walk, and a meadow walk.


These programs, ecological restorations and accessibility interventions aim to transform the Miaojing River from a hidden gem into blue and green infrastructure that benefits the local community and sustains future growth for the whole of Kunshan West.



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Mark