LOOP – Pioneering Community Consultation for Shanghai’s Laneways

Community Consultation

Located in one of Shanghai’s most historic neighbourhoods, Gossamer is working with local residents and authorities to deliver LOOP, one of the city’s first community consultation urban regeneration project. Driven by a multi-staged public engagement process LOOP will provide 7 co-designed mico-destinations each tailored to the community and offers a new benchmark for placemaking in China.

Community Consultation
Once home to the city’s rich and famous Yuyuan Road has changed greatly over the years. Image courtesy of 晚清民国全文数据库

Originally known as Shanghai’s High Street, Yuyuan Road was considered one of the city’s most prestigious areas. The lanes were home to numerous public figures and includes much of the city’s iconic international concession architecture. The laneways also housed national figures such as renowned pianist Gu Shengying and prominent scientist turned politician – Qian Xuesen. 

Community Consultation
Yuyuan Road and its laneways has some of the city’s most significant historic buildings.

The community is home to a long lineage of local residents spanning many generations.  However, much of the precincts public domain has become derelict over the years and in urgent need of repair. The complexity of this historic and fragile urban ecosystem called for a highly sensitive response that balances the community needs with modern development.

Community Consultation
Local residents catch the morning sun, eating breakfast together and drying clothes.
Community Consultation
Throughout the day people meet friends and play games together.

Community Consultation in China?

The rapid urbanisation of China is nothing short of astounding and Shanghai is leading the country through its modernization. However, public engagement and consultation is very much a new concept even in the country’s most progressive cities. In recent years views are changing and traditional ‘Shikoumen’ laneway housing is starting to be seen as much a part of city’s identity as the iconic Pudong Skyline.

Community Consultation
Gossamer and their client conducting a site tour with residents and local government

As part of the project, Gossamer implemented one of Shanghai’s first community consultation campaigns with the aim of understanding the intricacies of these complex neighbourhoods and ultimately delivering a co-designed revitalisation outcome that ensures the long term preservation of local lifestyles and history. The sessions involved site tours, interactive workshop exercises and review sessions of ideas and strategies.

Community Consultation
Interactive workshops
Community Consultation

“LOOP is designed with the locals for locals. They know these lanes better than anyone else and consider these spaces as an extension of their homes. This aspect of lifestyle culture is a unique component of Shanghai’s identity to celebrate, embrace and preserve. From the onset, it became evident that we had to engage with the residents, but we found no precedents for public consultations of this nature in the city. Even though our team has had extensive experience in working with communities and stakeholders in Australia and the UK, it was also a first for us in China. When it all kicked off, we were pleasantly surprised by the level of engagement and interest from the public. The feedback gathered from the meetings and workshops were extremely valuable in helping us to understand and ultimately deliver a truly tailored outcome for the locals”

Jack Qian, Founder & Director, Gossamer.
Community Consultation
Gossamer and their client organised at the on-site art gallery design pinups and informal conversations with interested residents

One Loop, Six Micro-Destinations

LOOP consists of a series of integrated urban interventions guided by onsite observations, existing public life, local resident suggestions and ongoing feedback from the consultation process.  To ensure comprehensive site understanding the project leveraged the Gossamer Place Matters Spectrum to assess each stage of the design process. Through this process, the team recorded genuine everyday uses of the local community for the successive design. Shopping for vegetables, chance encounters, meeting neighbors, drying clothes, playing mahjong and just sitting and relaxing under the shade of old London Plane trees were all considered as key insights and indicators of an existing rich laneway culture.

Community Consultation
Community Consultation
Through site analysis, a series of strategies were developed to enhance the existing lifestyle and activities of the local residents.

The result is a 1km circuit with six memorable micro-destinations intended to enhance the way of life within the laneways. To deliver a truly unique place the design offers a series of rest and relaxation zones, clothes drying facilities, mahjong tables, community gardens, historic interpretation, public art, leisure & exercise equipment and rain gardens. The team also considered overall site circulation and designed improvements to; access, interface to retail, lighting, privacy, safety, waste sorting & disposal.

Community Consultation
LOOP Masterplan

“We adapted our consultation and placemaking process from international practice specifically for the LOOP and Yuyuan Road community. The workshops yielded extremely positive results giving us invaluable insight into how these communities use their spaces and while keeping them engaged and informed through all stages of the project. Our client and the local government were very supportive and able to witness first-hand, the real benefits of public engagement and we hope to implement more of these into our future projects across China” – Nicola Balch, Founding Member & Associate, Gossamer.

Micro-Destination 01 – Qishan House & Lane

Community Consultation

A refurbished community centre features new facade treatment, integrated green wall outdoor clotheslines and new community garden areas.

Micro Destination 02 – The Urban Lounge

Community Consultation
Community Consultation

Entering into the heart of the residential community, Gossamer created a generous urban lounge to support the diverse daily activities of the residents. One of the rare areas basked in all day sun, it is popular with local residents gather, playing mahjong and dry their washing. To enhance these activities the designers created flexible lounge areas with movable chairs and tables. Community gardens are introduced to provide locals to grow their own produce.

Micro Destination 03 – The Junction

Community Consultation

Situated in the intersection of three residential communities is a narrow laneway. Access and safety is improved through new public domain lighting, as well as a redesigned gateway with integrated signage.

Micro Destination 04 – The Boulevard

Community Consultation

Forming the main access spine in the residential village a series of raingardens offer privacy and improved outlook for abutting bedrooms.  Existing London plane trees are restored and re-planted the length of the boulevard for well needed shade in the summer months.

Micro Destination 05 – Hongye Garden Plaza

Community Consultation

Entering into the residential community a ‘sculpture forest’ is designed to showcase the laneways history including local stories, events and notable figures. The micro plaza offers residents and visitors a place to lounge and meet friends.

Micro Destination 06 – Hongye Garden Lane

Community Consultation

The entry features a small retail and restaurant village off the hustle and bustle of the main road. Multifunctional furniture offer patrons a place to sit, surrounded by greenery from the integrated planters as well as a redesigned ‘share-way’. An art wall with installation boxes bring exhibitions from the 2nd floor gallery space onto the street.

Location | Changning District, Shanghai
Site Area | 1km 2
Year | 2019

Designer | Gossamer
Service Scope
Architecture, Urban Design, Furniture & Signage, Art & Sculpture, Landscape Architecture, Community Consultation

Client | Changning District Government & Creater
Collaborators | V10 Architects

Gossamer unless captioned

About Damian Holmes 3226 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/