Blackstone Music Park | Shanghai, China | Lab D+H

Renewed Orchestra Unites Shanghai’s Past and Present: A Novel Urban Micro-renewal in Blackstone Music Park 

Shortlisted in the 2021 WLA Awards

The Blackstone Apartment Building with a hundred-year history is a part of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra in fast-paced Shanghai. Based on its unique characteristics, our design concept is ‘Orchestra between the Old and the New’. The unification of Shanghai’s past and present was achieved by using novel designs scaled properly, along with the preservation of the historical layout and the overall context. The project aims to renovate and expand the Blackstone Apartment Building and its narrow public spaces into a music-themed park.  Native plants were used to create a multi-dimensional landscape on the building façade and the in-between squares. The landscaping is used to represent the symbiosis between many different historical periods and the cultures of those times. This project goes beyond simple renovations. Instead, it explores the many design possibilities through the reuse and embellishment of building facades, walls, and smaller spaces. When historical tradition meets modern concepts, a novel public space blossoms, full of vitality and artistic atmosphere.

The overall landscape design emphasizes the site’s history and its original texture. When the building facades, walls, and in-between spaces were renovated, the original landscaping was retained. Existing infrastructure was also rehabilitated to retain both the identity and a sense of belonging to space. Modern elements have also been introduced.  Carefully selected new plants were installed, to create a feeling of harmony within the narrow alleyways. A new landscape was created using stone textured partitions as walls.  Falling water, musical fountains, soft paving, and appropriate lighting provide graceful final touches to an atmosphere that unifies the best of old and new. 

Integrating the new design into the older one initiated a dialogue between the new and the old. Each one retains its own unique characteristics, protected and enhanced by the partnership. To create a new, distinctive whole.  In addition, a new sequence and combination were created through the integration of art and nature. The stone wall garden, tree shadow garden, and the zelkova garden bring the special qualities of natural beauty into the lives of residents. The harmonious interplay of the two partners uses the beauty of natural design to create high-quality life for the residents’ using.  Community social activities are enhanced by the friendly and welcoming sense created by the design.

Urban development and a healthy environment must use the same strategies.  In one case, the community was provided with an additional source of easily accessed water while the environment was protected from polluted water. A neighborhood rainwater garden was added to collect and reuse rainwater. It is cost-effective ecological retention and seepage facility and it improves the rainwater carrying capacity for the local community while creating a sustainable environment with a low maintenance burden.

The new design responds to the spatial song of historical buildings in Shanghai’s alleyways. It brings light to the narrow spaces and plays the orchestral between different time periods. With a novel design, the project brings in a unique artistic experience and a humanistic environment for the people living in the neighborhood.

Renewed Orchestra Unites Shanghai’s Past and Present: A Novel Urban Micro-renewal in Blackstone Music Park 

Location: No.1331 Fuxing Zhong Road, Xuhui District, Shanghai, China

Landscape Architect: Lab D+H

Lead Designers: Zhongwei Li, Nan Lin, Yijia Zhu, Jingyu Wu

Construction Drawing Designers: Jian Zhou, Jingyu Wu(Landscape Wall design and construction Drawing), Xuhui Xu, Chun Wei

Architecture Team: Playze Architects

Client: Hengfu Invest

Photo credit: Bing Lu

About Damian Holmes 3228 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