The Yangtze is Asia’s longest river and drains one-fifth of China’s land area. Revered as the “mother river,” it has nurtured China’s history, culture, and economy since the dawn of civilization. This relationship between the people and the river has, in recent years, grown tense. Despite unprecedented advancements in engineering, all major cities on the Yangtze increasingly suffer from mounting flooding damage—demonstrating that the river is far from tamable.
▼长江边的武汉，the city of Wuhan alongside the Yangtze
Emerging because of its relationship with the Yangtze, central China’s largest city of Wuhan has coevolved with the river so symbiotically for the past 1,800 years that every milestone in its history has been tied to the river. Centuries of floods created fertile land for the early settlers, and high water safeguarded the birth of the city. As Wuhan has emerged as one of China’s hotbeds for technology, education, and innovation, land prices have soared and the city faces rising conflicts between development pressures and public demand for open space. It is striving to explore new ways of embracing the river after nearly a century of industrial exploitations and urban expansion.
▼总平面示意图，the illustrative plan
Wuhan’s Yangtze Riverfront Park leverages the river’s dynamic flooding to nurture a rich regional ecology, reinforce traditional wisdom and the local identity of living with an ever-changing river, and creates a dynamic recreational experience which is acutely attuned to the seasonal rise and fall of the Yangtze’s waters. This “river culture” is so deeply embedded in Wuhan that today people still frequent the riverfront parks even when they are flooded—enjoying the rare excitement of such intimate contact with the water. The design of the park celebrates this strong river culture and leverages frequent flooding events as a vital driver of placemaking strategies. Much of the programming along the river is designed to celebrate the river’s spontaneity and incorporate its flooding as an essential element of the ever-changing landscape.
▼滨水公园重要节点分析图，the diagram of the important nodes of the riverfront park
The river’s mudflats continue to play a critical role in supporting biodiversity and delivering crucial ecosystem services, but the sediment flux of the Yangtze River has dropped tremendously due to numerous upstream hydrological projects along the river. The rapid disappearance of these mudflats places regional biodiversity in jeopardy. Through strategic dredging and grading, the design creates heterogeneous microenvironments that host a wide variety of distinct wetland ecosystems in the mudflats. Nuanced topography, coupled with the river’s frequent water level fluctuations, enable complex plant communities to grow. From emergent marshlands to vernal pools, these typologies create an evolving landscape character throughout the year.
▼生态多样性的改善措施，the ecological enhancement
▼分析图 – 水位相关设计， diagram of the design related to the water level
A series of sinuous secondary streams are graded to emerge in the mudflats during mid-high water levels, and provide alternative passages for aquatic wildlife, as well as safe corridors for kayaking. This strategy creates a tranquil experience amid tall marsh grasses, even when the Yangtze’s waters roar. During dry months, these stream beds function as informal pathways for visitors to explore, slicing through the dense grasses.
▼旱季时，游客们在下沉广场和河道上上行走嬉戏，stream beds and plazas function as informal pathways for visitors to explore during dry months
▼雨季时，河道和下沉广场被水淹没，形成水景，stream beds and plazas are submerged by water to form a water view during mid-high water levels
▼滨水公园局部，为游客提供了乐水空间，partial view of the riverfront park, providing safe corridors for kayaking
Alongside logs for turtles to loaf on and submerged fish structures, waterfowl nesting platforms are installed in the open marsh. Discreet birding stations within the tree groves offer viewing opportunities for wildlife enthusiasts. Recreational spaces are arranged based on careful calculations of the dispersing distances for the key wildlife species in the river basin such that they do not intrude into the primary habitats. During floods, the recreational fields in the mudflats are temporarily returned to the river and repopulated by fish and waterfowl.
▼湿地滩涂内的动植物多样性，diverse plant communities and blood-flukes prevention
Wuhan’s rich industrial history is also celebrated, with historical landmarks highlighted throughout in the riverfront park. Though largely abandoned, the site’s massive railyards and remnants of freight train ferry terminals have a strong visual presence. This heavy-duty infrastructure offers engaging platforms for park visitors to more intimately experience the river, while a series of barges are connected to form a floating promenade. This promenade rises and falls with the river, and delineates a uniquely dynamic space in between. The design of the riverfront park repurposes these industrial relics as vibrant waterfront hubs of new cultural and recreational uses, including floating plazas, restaurants, galleries, and even a floating community garden.
▼滨水公园局部，废弃的工业遗址被作为主要设计节点进行展现，partial view of the riverfront park, the abandoned historical landmarks are highlighted throughout in the riverfront park
▼滨水公园局部，一系列可用于公共活动的趸船形成一个漂浮长廊，partial view of the riverfront park, a series of barges that can serve as public spaces are connected to form a floating promenade
At the iconic “Tip of China”—the peninsula at the scenic confluence of the Yangtze the Han rivers—the distinct color of the water of the two rivers clash abruptly with a clearly visible boundary in the middle of the Yangtze. Here, the Museum of the Yangtze rises from the levees and offers an uninterrupted panorama of Wuhan’s waterfront and burgeoning skyline.
▼滨水公园中的博物馆，the museum in the riverfront park
▼滨水公园中的科技博物馆，the science museum in the riverfront park
透过线上意见征集活动，广大巿民对设计方案表达了热烈支持，也就武汉长江主轴滨水区的未来发展方向取得了广泛共识。在整个项目过程当中，设计团队与甲方合作整合了逾65, 000条公众意见，有效地推动了设计的核心概念和优化。同时，当地民间团体组识了一系列公众探讨及基地调研活动，积极推动了滨江区域景观管理的公共参与性。当地青少年和儿童也参与到基地调研活动中来，并用画笔表达了他们对滨水公园的期冀。武汉长江主轴滨水公园总体规划以公众参与为基础，缔造多元共生，生态和谐 的滨水空间，复兴和传承大河文化，以城江新韵展现武汉人民世代以来与江共存的独特哲学。
▼滨水公园江边步道生成过程，the generation process of the paths alongside the river
A web-based outreach effort generated fruitful public support of the design, and consensus on the future of Wuhan’s waterfront. Throughout the design process, over 65,000 public comments were collected, helping to inform design various iterations. Local civic groups also organized a series of public meetings and site tours to promote stewardship of the river’s public landscapes. Local youth were also invited to portray their vision for the waterfront park at an event on site. Built upon a strong consensus from the public engagement, the master plan for the Wuhan Yangtze Riverfront Park creates a socially inclusive and ecologically meaningful waterfront with a strong cultural identity that embraces the Wuhan’s unique philosophy derived from centuries of living alongside a dynamic river.
▼滨水公园的步道和阶梯式休息空间，the paths and stepped rest area in the riverfront park
▼江边的步道系统，the path system alongside the Yangtze
Project name: Wuhan Yangtze Riverfront Park
Project location: Wuhan, China
Client name: Wuhan Land Resources and Planning Bureau
Size: 503 hectares
Status: Masterplan Completed in 2018
Services: Planning and Urban Design, Landscape Architecture