As part of the master plan of Jiading New City, a new 70 hectare central landscape axis was envisioned across the 17 square kilometer new development at the fringe of the city of Shanghai. After five years of design and construction, Ziqidonglai Landscape Axis opened to the public. The linear park is one of the largest urban open spaces in this rapidly expanding district and acts as a walkable green corridor connecting otherwise separate green space patches and integrating with surrounding neighborhoods. Its combination of poetic form, cultural expression, public uses, and ecological restoration creates a multi-dimensional experience that will be enjoyed by many generations to come.
At project outset, the park plan was fragmented due to the lack of comprehensively understanding of the impact of cross-traffic on the green space network in the district's master plan. In a critical first move, the design team intervened to minimize fragmentation, by reducing the number of roadways crossing the park and constructing pedestrian overpasses or underpasses where roads remained—critically preserving a holistic park experience for wildlife and pedestrians alike.
Sasaki's design concept for the park, "Dancing in the Woods," is based on a contemporary interpretation of traditional Chinese painting, calligraphy, and dance. The park emphasizes the rich cultural heritage of Jiading, and integrates this with the natural setting of the site. Natural landscape elements such as floating clouds and flowing water, common themes in the paintings of local artist Yanshao Lu, are reinterpreted into modern, dynamic forms representing movement and influencing how people interact with the landscape. Four major paths in the park interweave and interact with a variety of park elements in a choreographed composition, twisting and turning along the space and landforms, while carrying the cross park and along park traffics for pedestrians and bike riders. Spatial configurations within the park embrace dichotomies of form and purpose–open and enclosed, monumental and intimate, active and quiet, urban and pastoral, straight and curvilinear, elevated and recessed.
With a strong foundational understanding of the project context and an articulated design vision, the team embarked on sustainability-driven design. The strong commitment to enhancing the ecological system and a people-oriented spirit is manifested in design details, including universal accessibility on all pathways, restored wetlands, new woodland, native plantings that bolster the local bio-community, a stormwater management system, limited artificial lighting, and efficient reuse of existing materials and on-site structures.
As a result of an interdisciplinary approach, inspired vision, and meaningful sustainable design, Jiading Central Park in Shanghai has transformed the area. Restored wetland and woodland has drastically improved water and air quality and biodiversity; Rainwater harvesting has decreased potable water demand by 3.3 million gallons annually; and reuse of existing structure and materials like asphalt and salvaged bricks have reduced emissions and lowered construction costs.
Today's park features clear water and fishermen where dirty canals and algae blooms once proliferated. A quiet promenade takes the place of a noisy roadway. Birds circle the skies and float on the canal. People of all ages take to the sports fields and wander the paths. The green corridor is the heart of the New City and has quickly become a new signal of vitality for the region.