Man-Built Islands Dongqian Lake | Ningbo China | HASSELL

Man-Built Islands Dongqian Lake | Ningbo China | HASSELL

Dongqian Lake, a water reservoir supplying the residents of Ningbo, requires regular dredging which results in a large quantity of by-product. The local authorities recognised an opportunity to use this by-product for the creation of a man-made island within the lake. The Ningbo Planning Bureau for Dongqian Lake Tourist and Holiday Resort invited a select group of consultants to provide conceptual proposals for the development of an island precinct. The HASSELL concept won the competition. A feasibility study was undertaken and the development of the proposal is now underway.

Man-Built Islands Dongqian Lake | Ningbo China | HASSELL
The proposal included the construction of several new islands in the centre of the lake. The concept for the islands is based on the interpretation of the existing natural and urban context, as well as the conservation of local resources.

Intense usage of lakeside areas for tourism is leading to significant negative impacts on the environment – the depletion of natural resources, the pollution of waterways and the reduced health of the lake’s fish population. The long-term viability of the tourism industry, which relies heavily on the natural features of the surrounding area, is also affected. The HASSELL scheme seeks to develop a more sustainable approach to tourism for Dongqian Lake, especially the interaction of people with the environment.

Man-Built Islands Dongqian Lake | Ningbo China | HASSELL
The current mismanagement of the lake by the local tourist industry has led to one of the key goals of this project – Engage H2O – a proposal for the improvement in the way people and developments work with and depend on the water of Dongqian Lake. The lake is the basis of the economy for the local people – this plan recognises the importance of water to them and all human life. Three main historic relationships between people and water are also recognised in this project:

  • the reliance on water for survival and basic needs
  • the importance of maintaining the quality of water to thrive
  • the need to re-balance the current use of water for future sustainable needs

The scheme features an operational system for the islands, with a focus on water. This will be further implemented in actual practice, combining the local fishery industry with the natural water circulation systems. A number of key outcomes are proposed including: water purification; flexibility to redevelop local industries with future change; and the retention of the memory of the industrial heritage of the lake for future generations.
Man-Built Islands Dongqian Lake | Ningbo China | HASSELL
Man-Built Islands Dongqian Lake | Ningbo China | HASSELL
Man-Built Islands Dongqian Lake | Ningbo China | HASSELL
Man-Built Islands Dongqian Lake | Ningbo China | HASSELL
The main island is constructed from soil that is created from the dredging of the lake, while smaller islands are floating structures. The smaller islands are designed to incorporate water filtration and fish breeding functions, to provide continual improvement of the lake’s water quality and fish population. Throughout the year, these islands move position – from the existing lakeside villages (at the start of the breeding cycle) to the main island, where visitors enjoy recreational functions, while learning about their environmental purpose.

The main island incorporates a small farm and orchard which provide the resort with some of its vegetables and fruits. This enables the resort to be self sufficient in terms of seasonal produce and reduces the need to transport supplies over the lake. The farm and orchard also provide an authentic educational experience, focused on environmental sustainability and engaging with its context, for island visitors. It is in sharp contrast to the more common tourism experiences around the lake which are generally themed and superficial in nature and, aside from monetary income, do not enhance the natural or social environment.

The Dongqian Lake project represents an ever-increasing and commendable trend in China – to provide environmentally sensitive and contextually relevant tourism experiences which educate current and future generations of this emerging world economy.


Man-Built Islands Dongqian Lake Concept Design


Location                         Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, China

Client                              Branch Bureau of Ningbo Planning Bureau for Dongqian Lake   Tourist and Holiday Resort

Discipline                       Landscape Architecture

Scale                              164,000 square metres

Status                            Work in progress

About Damian Holmes 3292 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

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