1st AVENUE | Chongqing, China | Terrain Studio

Chongqing, a major city in southwest China, is situated between the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and the plain on the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River. Built on mountains and partially surrounded by the Yangtze and Jialing rivers, Chongqing is known as the city of mountains and rivers with multiple urban centers. 1st Avenue, located in one of these centers, is a mixed-use development woven into a complex, diverse and dense existing urban fabric in the heart of the city. The landscape integrates high-rise/multi-level residential office, hotel, and retail development with subway connections and below-grade parking.    

1st Avenue was shaped to become an urban destination, a social landscape, with spaces and experiences that allow it to be a meeting place as well as the preferred place to live, work, shop, and enjoy time with friends and family. In collaboration with design architects, the owner, and community representatives, the landscape creatively and artfully integrates topography, development program, the landscape, and infrastructure. In doing so, a new, vibrant urban neighborhood has emerged that improves the quality of life, environment, and economics for the people of 1st Avenue as well as the greater urban center and the City of Chongqing. 

The design was inspired by seven core principles: 

  • Create a landscape that integrates architecture with topography creating seamless connectivity and blurring the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces, 
  • Create a system of human-based, accessible complete streets, 
  • Create green open spaces that act as urban “Living Rooms”, 
  • Use the landscape to artfully express grade differences, 
  • Create active and passive outdoor social spaces, 
  • Improve connectivity and circulation via elevated pedestrian bridges, 
  • Artfully integrate the development into adjacent existing conditions while respecting elements of cultural value and legacy trees.  

The landscape is defined by a diverse sequence of urban open spaces, mostly over structure woven together by a form language expressed largely through paving patterns interpreting the fluidity of Chongqing’s geomorphology. Characterized by Chongqing’s main rivers as they weave between dramatic layered mountains. 

Key urban open spaces include: 

  1. The North Plaza – One of 1st Avenue key social spaces activated by surrounding retail, commercial uses, and subway connection. The highlight of this space is a perforated weathered steel wall that retains grade as a granite stream with a weathered steel pedestrian bridge crosses the flowing water creating direct access to the entry of the plaza. 
  2. The Main Street – A human-scaled complete street. Convenience parallel parking with Palm lined street trees helps to activate the vibrancy of the street.  
  3. Retail Terrace – Upper, middle and lower terraces grow out of the site’s sloping topography and are integrated into the landscape, creating a seamless transition between pedestrian promenades and retail levels. 
  4. The Neighborhood Park – Creating a park opposite an existing residential neighborhood and provides a green oasis for 1st Avenue residents and their neighbors. A preserved forty-year-old Ficus Nitida is the focal point of a park quickly becomes a popular gathering space for residents and neighbors alike.  
  5. The South Plaza – Restaurant and cafes occupy this rare flat space within 1st Avenue capture through the collaboration between the architect and landscape architect. Weathered steel and green walls at the edge of the South Plaza exhibit the narrative for the landscape design. The granite paving patterns within the plaza interpret the region’s fluidity of form and create visual interest at a human scale for pedestrians. 

Integrating architecture and landscape into a site this complex required three years of collaboration with the design architects, the owner, community representatives, local professionals, and contractors. 

1st Avenue

Location: Chongqing, P.R. China

Landscape Architect:  Terrain Studio
Design Team: Scott Slaney, Minhui Li, Jiae Lee Ham, Wen Shang, Jingwen Guo

Client: Longfor Chongqing Real Estate Group

Consultants: Aedis, Hong Kong, C-Blues Landscape and Planning,

Photographer: ARCH-EXIST

About Damian Holmes 3229 Articles
Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at https://www.linkedin.com/in/damianholmes/