SWA wins Pudong Waterfront Design Competition

SWA Group, has won an international design competition for a 2.3-kilometer-long new “central park” along the Pudong waterfront, Shanghai’s financial center and gateway to this global city.   The transformation of this prominent waterfront site into “Front City” – a signature mixed-use development – provides new open space amenities to a diverse group of users and a visual centerpiece for visitors. Construction is planned to begin in Spring 2013.

Revered as China’s Gateway to the World, Shanghai has transformed over the years into one of the world’s most influential economic powerhouses.  Strategically anchored between the Huangpu River and the Outer Ring Expressway, the Front City site is one of the last remaining waterfront parcels along the Huangpu River, commanding a valuable real estate and an important first impression at the city’s forefront.

In an effort to leverage the powerful effect left by the Shanghai World Expo event, Shanghai Municipal Planning and Land Resources Administration sought to carry out the planning and development of the foreshore areas immediate south of the Expo site.  As part of the “Front City” development, approximately 100 hectares (247 acres or 0.4 square miles) are designated for the park component, which will create a mega sports  park, wetland park, new civic facilities, museums and restaurants, and a new ferry terminal, all connected by a 7 km pedestrian access loop.  SWA has collaborated with Morphosis to design the signature waterfront structures.

“The exponential growth of Shanghai has outpaced the confines of the historic core of Pudong, prompting development of satellite cities in greater Shanghai,” said Ying-Yu Hung, SWA Managing Principal in Los Angeles, “but now Shanghai sees ‘Front City’ as a step in reasserting its role as a gateway and center of commerce, and an opportunity to strengthen the urban core.”  Notably, only 280 hectares of the 380-hectare site will be developed, reserving the waterfront and fingerlike extensions of parks and open spaces to interlace with urban development.

The winning design by SWA and Morphosis, called ‘Front City, Five Parks’, “builds on the role of Shanghai as a place where tradition and modernity meld to form a unique cosmopolitan identity,” Hung added.

Within this major new waterfront space, the design includes five key components that make up the 5 distinctive parks:
— An ‘International Front’ provides the operational and activity center of the parks, celebrating Shanghai’s friendships with international cities.
— The ‘Ecological Front’ will connect to the Huangpu River, bringing park users closer to the region’s river ecology and provide residents with informational/educational experiences.
— The ‘Civic Front’ is a dynamic landscape corridor which at one end will have a performing cultural center.  This sculptural landmark at the north portion of the park will be an iconic gateway structure for Front City and the Pudong waterfront.
— The ‘Community’ Front offers a large green space with sports facilities for low-impact sport fields, playgrounds, picnic areas, and community gardens.
— The ‘Youth Front’ presents a lively and energetic atmosphere for the future generations with sports fields and interpretative gardens.

“Front Loop”, a 7-kilometer long pedestrian loop, will run along the “Five Fronts” sections to tie them together and provide a walking/running trail encircling the development. A pair of twin pedestrian bridges outline the edge of the Infinity Lake, where boating, fireworks and water shows will be performed.

“Each Front is rooted in sustainable design and represents an important element of Shanghai’s dynamic culture,” said Hung.  “As a city built on the intersection of land and water, of past and present, of East and West ideology, Shanghai holds an important stature among the major cities of the World.”


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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/