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Sasaki and Collaborators Win Shenzhen Blueway Planning and Design Competition to Reimagine Pingshan River

Shenzhen Water Authority announced the selection of Sasaki and collaborators China Southwest Architectural Design & Research Institute and Guangdong Hydropower Planning & Design Institute (collectively the “consortium”) as the winner of the “Shenzhen 3 Rivers and 1 Lake Blueway Planning and Design Competition” to envision the future of Pingshan River.

In 2018, the government of Guangdong Province of China launched the Blueway Planning and Design Initiative in an attempt to reimagine and raise the standard for over 10,000 miles of waterways in the region. Not only does it carry a significant meaning for Guangdong, the project also opens up the possibility to enhance the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and to rethink upon the urban fabric. Thinking outside the box of the conventional green corridor + river training works, the Blueway Initiative aims to support industrial transformation and urban renewal by addressing altogether ecological, recreational and cultural needs – the “blue” and the “green” juxtapose to curate a unique mix of public spaces and urban developments in a reimagined setting.

Pingshan River is one of the four “arteries” meandering through the hilly as well as the developed areas of Shenzhen. Planning upon the theme of “Cultural Icon and Waterfront Recreation”, the consortium explored ways to rejuvenate the Hakka culture and the country’s “red” heritage. Traditionally, the peaceful coexistence of man and nature is highly respected by the Hakka people. They would not live or work without paying regard for the natural surroundings. Inspired by and hoping to carry forward this local style of living, the winning scheme aims to bring to life a new Pingshan by restoring the ecosystems, fostering a strong network of public spaces, strengthening the region’s Hakka roots and catalysing urban developments and industrial upgrades – a place that is livable, eco-conscious and has a unique cultural identity.

As a result of extensive studies on the waterways and based on their experience in designing waterfront spaces across the globe, the team proposed as below three strategies on water training, ecological restoration, recreation, urban revitalization and industrial upgrades:

Strategy 1: Blue river, clean water (hydrological aspect)

Restore the natural mountain and water network by means of improving flood control and drainage, managing water flow, improving water quality and introducing a forecast and evacuation mechanism. Safeguard the broader water basin, ensuring base flow and safety during periods of flood discharge.

Strategy 2: Stitching together natural resources (ecological + recreational aspect)

Safeguard and add value to existing natural resources and foster a robust network of public spaces by means of preserving the mountains and the waters, restoring wildlife habitats, creating view corridors and enabling well-connected slow and pedestrian traffic. In doing so, close connections are built between man and nature, forming a network that encompasses natural and urban elements.

Strategy 3: An incomparable cultural identity (cultural + industrial aspect)

Revisit the region’s Hakka roots and catalyze urban developments and industrial upgrades by means of energizing the waterfront and highlighting a rich collection of cultural features to allow people to get close to the river again.

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