Innovative landscaping measures have been used to transform a public park in China, giving it remarkable adaptive abilities come monsoon season.

Located in the center of Jinhua City, China, Yanweizhou Park sits where the Wuyi River and Yiwu River converge to form Jinhua River.

This 64 acre (26ha) natural wetland remained undeveloped due to its inaccessibility, until it became the center for cultural activities in the region with the construction of an organically shaped opera house. However, these community facilities went unused due to a lack of accessibility, particularly during monsoon season. In addition, a large 50 acre (20 ha) wetland was damaged by sand quarrying during construction of the opera house, disturbing the natural habitat for native wildlife.

Specialising in Landscape Architecture, Environmental Design and Urban Planning, Beijing-based firm Turenscape took the undeveloped landscape of Yanweizhou Park and transformed it with innovative solutions that overcame some major challenges. These challenges included, how to preserve the riparian habitat while still providing amenities to residents; managing flood control; integrating the existing structures to the surrounding environment to create a cohesive landscape; and connecting the separated city districts to the natural landscape in such a way that would strengthen the community and cultural identity of Jinhua.

Turenscape’s design strategies included adaptive applications to preserve and enhance the remaining habitats, making full use of the accessible riparian sand to ensure the existing micro-terrain and natural vegetation were preserved over time. By adding native wetland species, the biodiversity of the area was enhanced and made more adaptive. Specific native species of plants were also incorporated to provide food for local birds and other wildlife.

Also considered was how best to counteract seasonal flooding and its implications for access. Traditionally, the strategy to control flooding was to build stronger and taller concrete floodwalls, at the expense of severing the intimate relationship between the city, the vegetation, and the water. Turenscape’s design offered an alternative solution, by using a cut-and-fill strategy to balance earthwork, and creating a water-resilient terraced river embankment that was covered with flood-adapted native vegetation. No irrigation or fertilisation is required for the plantings due to fertile silts that are deposited by floods over the terraces each year, naturally feeding the native plant-life.

The terraced river embankment and the inland area are entirely permeable, creating a water resilient landscape through the extensive use of gravel, which was readily available onsite. The gravel was used for the pedestrian areas, circular bio-swales were integrated with tree planters, and permeable concrete pavement was used for vehicular access routes and parking lots. The inner pond located inland was also designed to encourage river water to infiltrate through these gravel layers, mechanically and biologically improving the water to make it suitable for swimming.

In addition to these strategies Turenscape also incorporated a 700m-long bridge and path systems that were designed to adapt to the dynamic water current and the flow of users, creating an uninterrupted connection between the city and landscape. The pedestrian bridge snakes across the two rivers, linking the parks along the riverbanks on both sides, in a design that was inspired by the local tradition of dragon dancing.

Elevated above the 200 year flood level, the water-resilient infrastructure includes exit ramps that can be submerged during larger floods. While floodwaters cover the park for a very short period of time each year, it remains undamaged when the waters recede due to the resilient infrastructure. The bridge also hovers above the riparian wetland, encouraging an intimate connection to nature for the 40,000 visitors that use the bridge and park each day.

A proven success with visitors, the Yanweizhou Park project showcases a replicable and resilient ecological solution to large-scale flood management, and has given the city
of a Jinhua a new identity.

'A Resilient Landscape: Yanweizhou Park' was awarded the prestigious Landscape of the Year award at the World Architecture Festival 2015.

Beijing PR China
W www.turenscape.com/english

Client Jinhua Municipal Government
Location Jinhua City, Zhejiang Province, China
Landscape Architects Turenscape