The New Bund in Shanghai

With only 12 days to the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai you have probably seen images of the new Expo site with its amazing pavilions. But there is more going on in Shanghai in the last 2-3 years than the construction of Expo. Last month the main promenade in Shanghai known as the Bund or Waitan was recently reopened after a two years of renovation which involved removing the main elevated expressway onramp and constructing a new traffic tunnel under the fill length of the road and the pedestrian promenade was widened and extended.

The Bund is a historical piece of the city that has dramatically changed from in the last century from a mud flat riverbank with wooden planks for baording boats and ships whilst overlooking the opposite bank of farmland to becoming a thriving pedestrian promenade in front of buildings dating from 1880’s to 1930’s now overlooking a modern metropolis of contemporary architecture; most of which was built in the last decade.

The renovated Bund is 2000 metres long (1.25 miles) with three levels – roadside, promenade and lower level plazas beside the river. The new Bund has done away with the concrete upstand walls replaced with a curved balustrade which is more comfortable to lean against and watch the ships, barges and ferries go by whilst looking across at Lujiazui, the modern financial district.

The new expansive bund is accessed by long ramps that  create dramatic sense of arrival to the promenade which is paved in light coloured large unit granite paving and timber paving replacing the small sized pink ceramic tile (installed in a 1993 renovation). The new design also includes some new wave like glass sculptural roofs that give a different architectural dynamic although they are placed at the south end to ensure an unobstructed view of the historical buildings.

The renovation of  the Bund also includes renovated and new ferry terminal & jetties, a renovated weather station, thematic lighting and water sprays into the river. The lower roadside promenade and plazas are to include commercial shopping and restaurant areas.

The slideshow above can be enlarged to full screen by clicking on the four-arrow button (right side)

If you are coming for Expo or the 2010 IFLA Congress in Suzhou – the Bund is an interesting place to visit and take in the city. We will be featuring other posts about the changes that Shanghai has undergone in the last few years including Expo.

by Damian Holmes (Resident of Shanghai for almost 5 years)

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KCAP wins Keqiao Water City competition in Shaoxing, China

Masterplan

KCAP Architects & Planners has won the international competition to design a masterplan for Keqiao Water City in Shaoxing, China. The 45 ha site, which is currently occupied by redundant textile industry and residences, will be redeveloped for residential use with community functions and sport and commercial facilities in a landscaped setting of waterland, parks and gardens. KCAP’s masterplan design has been chosen as winner out of 3 international entries.

Keqiao is the major development area of Zhejiang province, occupying a strategic location between Shaoxing, a city of 3 million inhabitants, and Hangzhou, close to Xaoshan airport and along the highway to larger local cities and further to Shanghai. With its unique landscape of lakes, canals and rocks it forms a setting of scenic beauty. The area will become a recreational centre and will give new development impulses for the entire region.

KCAP’s masterplan introduces a landscape framework formed by different conditions found on the site such as the two lakes with their waterfronts, the canal and road system, the green spaces and the bridges. Enriched with carefully designed elements like public squares, parks, roads and paths a continuous landscape fabric is established which ties the entire development together.

KCAP will elaborate the winning masterplan scheme throughout 2010 in close cooperation with Shaoxing developer Gemdale and the local authorities. The first projects are estimated to start construction in 2011. ‘Working on this project is a great opportunity for us. It is an important stepping stone for our growing portfolio in China,’ says Markus Appenzeller, director of international projects of KCAP.

[SOURCE: KCAP]

[IMAGES SOURCE: KCAP]

[IMAGES CREDIT: Li Fang]

Tupper Thomas – returning Prospect Park to New Yorkers

The New York Times takes a look at the 35 year career of Tupper Thomas, the Park Administrator for Prospect Park who announced her retirement from her current position of Assistant Commissioner for Strategic Partnerships (listed on NYC DPR) last Tuesday (effective early 2011).

Ms Thomes is credited by many for bringing back from the brink in 1970’s to become a park rivalling Central Park. The New York Times article talks to her peers and gives highlights of her career which shows that passion and perseverance often counts for more than experience when entering a new job.

Another highlight of the NYT article is past and present photos of Prospect Park.

Read more at the [SOURCE: New York Times - Returning Prospect Park to the People]

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Seattle Center open space – public vs private use

According to the Seattle Times over 400 people attended a community meeting to discuss plans for the 5 acres next to the iconic Space Needle. The site was formerly the Fun Forest amusements  and the land was recently returned to the public. Bids where called for north area and the Seattle Center is entertaining the possibility of a children’s garden that was proposed by the Seattle Children’s Museum’s.

The current proposal for the south area is to allocate 1.5 acres of the land to a new 44,000 square foot Dale Chihuly glass-art exhibit proposed by the Wright Family who own the Space Needle. This proposal according to Seattle Times reports was popular with the attending crowd.  However, there was some opposition in the crowd including Iain Robertson noted by Seattle Times as ‘landscape architect’ but I think it may also be the same Iain Robertson who is Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Washington and on the Board of Directors of the Seattle Parks Foundation who was quoted in the Seattle Times as saying

…..Seattle Center is not the right location for a glass exhibit and that the city would be foolish to give up nearly 2 acres of open space.

“For us as a city to replace that [open space] in the future would cost an enormous amount of money,” he said. “You just don’t get a chance at this much open space in the center of the city.”

Also cited in the Seattle Times article was the Director of the Seattle Center Robert Nellams who said

there must be a balance between creating more open space — which is what was envisioned in the Center’s 2008 master plan — and generating revenue.

The Seattle Center Century 21 Master Plan was adopted in August, 2008 with an estimate of $567 million which was to be funded by a levy.

It seems as though this proposal will make the residents and stakeholders of Seattle have to deal with all too common question in these recent hard economic times of public versus private use of public land.

The current proposal brings into question the goals of the Seattle Center Master Plan and its vision. Master Plans are often well thought out documents produced over a long period of public consultation by the city and consultants to develop a vision for the next 20-100 years. To make a decision based on economics and adjacent properties owners assertions alone seems foolish.

The current proposal for Dale Chihuly glass-art exhibit seems at odds with the Seattle Center Master Plan which states

A combined ten acres at the Fun Forest and Memorial Stadium, currently paved over or walled off, is opened up, connecting the people and activities that were once isolated at its edges. The carnival rides that sit empty most months of the year are replaced with landscaping, performance spaces and play areas that invite people in to create their own active experiences.
Master plan Overview – Seattle Center Century 21 Masterplan(Page 21)  – (link to pdf)

The use of public space in key landmark locations needs to treated with the utmost respect as decisions made now can change the way a space is used for decades. I am not against the use of public land for private use if it generates revenue for the city and provides for the community but it must be in keeping with the long-term goals of the city.  We all know as designers that there are too many white elephants dotting the landscape across the world to remind us that bad decisions can haunt a city in the future.

By Damian Holmes

[SOURCE: Seattle Times - What to do with Seattle Center parcel draws a big crowd]
[SOURCE: Seattle Times - Goodbye to grand plan for Seattle Center?]

[SOURCE: Seattle Center Century 21 Master Plan] Link to pdf

China to reach 50% urban population by 2015

Recently Li Shouxin, director of the Development Planning Department stated that China’s urban population had reached 622 million by the end of 2009, with the urbanization rate standing at nearly 47 percent with the urban population growing by just under 1% annually over the last five years.

Zhang Qin, deputy director of the Urban-Rural Planning Department under the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MOHURD), said the rapid urbanization of China will continue for 15 to 20 years and China will become an urban society during the “12th Five-Year Plan” period (between 2011 and 2015 ).

The process will create a market of at least 1 trillion yuan ($146 billion) in the coming 20 years, according to a report by the Xinhua News Agency.

[SOURCES: People's Daily Online and Global Times]

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