The annual meeting of the Chinese Society of Landscape Architecture 2019 concluded in Shangai on October 19, 2019. Titled “Landscape Architecture and Beautiful China,” this year’s event was one of the biggest, attracting more than 2,000 participants.
For the past few years the annual meeting has convened international landscape architects to participate in speaking engagements alongside local experts, exchanging cutting-edge ideas and sharing their views and experiences in landscape architectural design as the industry develops. Dou Zhang, ASLA, PLA, co-director of Sasaki’s Shanghai office, was invited by Mr. Yue-zhong Chen, moderator of the panel “Urban Public Space and Streetscape Design,” to give a talk on “Urban Streetscape Design and Transformation.”
In her presentation, Zhang explored how urban streetscape design and transformation are practiced and reimagined in China and other parts of the world. She examined the topic through three lenses: analysis of urban public space, rethinking of urban streetscape design, and implementation of contemporary urban streetscape design.
Zhang opened with a discussion of the Emerald Necklace park systems in Boston, Massachusetts to elaborate on the diverse functions that a public space can serve. From leisure and education to stormwater management and habitat restoration, Zhang demonstrated that each program element plays a crucial role in defining urban living. Using the example of Commonwealth Avenue in Boston she made the case for the undeniable impact streets can have within an urban public space.
Zhang also discussed the problems arising from streetscape designs in the contemporary era. Walking through the history of street development in the East and the West, she analyzed the dynamic functions of streets and the ways they intersect with the life of urban dwellers. She discussed the performance of streets in terms of scale, program, identity, and resiliency as they pertain to mitigatingn critical issues that a contemporary cities face, including: excessive road widths, inefficient transportation, broken connections between streets, uncoordinated shopfronts, fragmented pedestrian spaces, unhealthy slow traffic systems, and lack of advanced sustainable technologies in street rainwater management.
Following an extensive examination of streetscapes spanning the globe, Zhang presented Sasaki’s design work on Yunjin Road in Shanghai’s Xuhui District and an array of streets in Luohu District, Shenzhen. To achieve an integrated street design, the Sasaki team made great efforts to improve road transportation, activity space, plantings, and stormwater management. Street furniture, signage systems, and shopfronts were also redesigned or realigned to match specific street typologies. As a result of their integrated approach, a comprehensive solution was employed within each of these projects.