Landscape / Jul - Aug 2018


July 23, 2018

A degraded 10-mile-long river corridor, covering an area of 484 acres, is ecologically recovered and transformed into a lush and high-performing greenway that reconnects humans with nature. This heals the physical and mental damage done to the local community, who have suffered the degraded environment for decades due to relentless development.

Riparian plains have been recovered on both sides of the river, with existing vegetation being well integrated with the designed vegetation (image courtesy of Turenscape)

Challenges & Objectives

Pujiang, a small city located in East China dominated by a monsoon climate, has a population of over 100,000, with another 400,000 living in its vicinity. It occupies a small and productive basin, through which the River Puyangjiang runs. For almost 2,000 years, the city and its agricultural vicinity lived in an Edenic paradise. Such calm and harmony was broken by the ruthless and rapid industrialisation and urbanisation in the past four decades: the Puyangjiang River and its tributaries were heavily polluted, watercourses were channelised, and riverbeds were turned into sand quarries. The river became a backyard dump and people turned away from it. The river that used to be the pride and unifying tie of the community had become associated with ugliness, foul smells and danger.

As a matter of fact, it was listed as the worst case in the provincial region and ended up giving the city an infamous identity. In early 2014, the local government launched a campaign to improve the overall living environment of the city and Puyangjiang River was taken on as a pilot project, setting up a model for the city and the provincial region as a whole. Through a competition, the landscape architect was selected and commissioned to transform the degraded river corridor into a greenway, with clean water, healthy ecology and an active corridor for daily recreational uses that connect the community and bring back the beauty and dignity of their mother river.

Connecting and Activating

Winding pedestrian and bike paths as well as boardwalks are built along both banks of the river; bridges are built across the river to connect communities at both sides; resting platforms and gathering places are built to activate the greenway; and an environmental interpretation system is designed to tell the natural and cultural stories of the river corridor.

Project Name Puyangjiang River Corridor blank
Location Pujiang County, Jinhua City, Zhejiang Province, China
Completion Date May 2017
Size 484 acres
Client/Owner Pujiang County Government
Design Company Turenscape
Design Principal Kongjian Yu
Design Team Hongqian Yu; Yu Song; Hao Chen; Shuiming Zhou; Yuan fang; Bingyue Zhang; Ying Xu; Huiyang Ma; Wen Qi; Fan Zhang; Lei Wang; Wenjing Xi; Yuan Yang; Chengxi Zhang; Nianwei Zhang; Dan Wang; Lei Liu; Shenghui Liu

Performative & Productive: Chengtoushan Archaelogical Park


Site plan (left) and aerial view (right) of Chengtoushan (images courtesy of Turenscape)

Hidden in a remote and poor rural region for decades, the Chengtoushan Archaeological site was rediscovered through landscape design using performance- and production-based approaches. These not only protect the integrity and authenticity of the site’s heritage, but also seek to develop it as a valuable tourist attraction. It showcases how landscape architecture can transform an obscure archaeological site into an educational, playful and productive asset, which will greatly benefit the local community.

Challenges & Objectives

In 1979, Chengtoushan was a mound on the intensively cultivated flood plain of Dongting Lake in Hunan Province of China. At that time, Chengtoushan was accidentally discovered as the site of the earliest city in China—and the place where rice was first found cultivated—and soon after, it was designated as a national heritage site. For the local community, this great discovery was more of a burden on their shoulders than a blessing. Given poverty and remoteness in a rural region, the productive land was taken from their hands and designated as protected land, and they were also given the responsibility to protect this place from being destroyed. After being kept untouched for about three decades, the local government made the decision to turn the burden into a blessing, with the aim to transform this area into a tourism attraction to improve the local economy. 

While the archaeological site is left in silence to stimulate people’s imagination, the productive fields are an active and ongoing ‘performance’: rice planting, weeding and harvesting are all parts of the design that mingle with recreational activities of jogging, picnicking, dog walking, school field trips and family outings. As a viewing platform and immersive pathway, the glass bridge allows urban visitors to witness rice planting and harvesting activities, and to have contact with hardworking farmers. Visitors can help out and join in their farming work. In this landscape, the boundary between the working and performing, production and art, rural and urban, owners and visitors, functionality and aesthetics are all dissolved into an integrated scene of beauty and harmony.


Project Name Chengtoushan Archaelogical Park blank
Location China Changde City, Hainan Province, China
Completion Date 2018
Lead Designer Turenscape
Client/Owner Government of the Lixian County, Hunan Province
Design Team Huiyong Zhang; Fei Shao; Deshang Peng; Hangjian Wen; Yaqi Zhang; Qing Zhi; Liming Chen; Ran Geng; Haitan Li; Tong Liu; Limin Kong; Enchun Fun; Rao Lin; Lijun Fan; Yafei Guo; Mingyu Cao; Yang Han; yanjie Xing; Chunting Chen


Through a symbiotic solution, the landscape design makes the eutrophic water canal a productive detour running through a series of wetland pockets that are transformed from abandoned fishponds. A lush urban oasis is thus created and nurtured that makes use of the eutrophic water as fertiliser and gets irrigated at no cost, as it cleans the canal water. While fostering a multi-layered ecosystem restoration catalysed by the nutrient-rich water, the park provides a much needed verdant public space within the city of Yichang’s burgeoning concrete jungle, and showcases how the nutrient cycle can be enclosed in a symbiotic way through a living landscape.



The Yichang Canal Park is located in the centre of the East New Eco-city of Yichang. Situated in a small basin within a hilly landscape, the park has a canal along its north side, a high-speed train track to the west and urban street to the south. Like other Chinese cities, Yichang is experiencing rapid urban growth that is encroaching onto the surrounding agricultural land. The 12-hectare (30-acre) site was previously a fish farm comprising 12 fishponds. The site was planned as a park (the land-use planning of the new town was also done by this landscape architect, and all the lower land were planned into green infrastructure for storm water management and connected greenways, where this park is part of the planned green infrastructure) since it was unsuitable for urban development but had the potential for transforming the canal into a greenway that would run through the city. 


After six years being nurtured by nutrient-rich water, the park has grown fast into a true urban oasis. Scientific observation has been made in the past couple of years and data has been collected to prove that the water quality has significantly improved after running through the park. It has been rated as one of the most favourite parks in the city and is widely celebrated by the local media. Besides, this project demonstrates a replicable and low-cost symbiotic solution to urban water issues, and utilises minimal intervention strategies to transform a suburban agricultural landscape into an urban green sponge in an inexpensive way. While retaining the memory of the original site, it provides a pleasing restorative environment and an educational space for the old and new urban residents.


Project Name The Yichang Canal Park blank
Location Yichang City, Hubei Province, China
Completion Date May 2013
Size 12 hectacres
Client/Owner Yichang City Government
Design Company Turenscape
Design Principal Kongjian Yu
Design Team Liu Xinangjun; Jin Yuyuan; Jiang Kiaxun; Lei Yun; Lv ning; Cao Zhengrong; Guo Rong; Wu Kezhang; Zhang Meng; Jia Shaojie; Chen Peng; Liu Dehua; Chu Yaoming; Jia Pai; Li Wei

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