The Lingang Eco Park contest called for a landfill site in the city's Lingang area to be transformed to create pockets of wetland, parkland and an urban forest along the East Asian–Australasian Flyway (EAAF). This route sees 50 million birds make the return journey from the Arctic Circle, through East and South-east Asia, to Australia and New Zealand.
Spanning 60 hectares, McGregor Coxall Bird Airport scheme is designed to support the needs of more than 50 species of birds in three different water habitats, including an island lake with shallow rapids, a reed zone and mudflats.
A high-tech education and research centre called the Water Pavilion will cater to the 500,000 people expected to visit the site each year. Topped with a green roof, inside the centre visitors will be able to monitor the animals through cameras inside 14 bird hides.
A walkway will lead to a trio of raised observation pods where visitors can watch birds flying past.
"The proposed Bird Airport will be a globally significant sanctuary for endangered migratory bird species while providing new green lungs for the city of Tianjin," said the studio.
Organised by the Asian Development Bank and the Port of Tianjin, the Lingang Eco Park responds to the loss of bird foraging habitats on the shores of China's Yellow Sea caused by coastal urbanisation. The result has seen a rapid decline in the population of waterbirds.
"Along the flyway intertidal habitat for stopovers for migratory birds is disappearing at an alarming rate," says McGregor. "Over the last ten years, newly constructed sea walls enclosed one and a half million hectares of intertidal habitat."
"Today about 70 percent of China's coast is now walled," he continued. "Today there are not many places for migratory birds left to land, and to find enough food to fatten up for onward migration."
The landscape architects also worked closely with ornithologist Avifauna Research to develop the scheme, which integrates site soils, feed sources, wetland vegetation and water management into the overall design.
Renewable energy will be used to move recycled waste water and harvested rainwater through the wetlands.
"The Bird Airport will utilise next generation water design, helping to shape a progressive environmental vision for future projects in the greater Beijing region," said the Shanghai studio leader Jack Qian.
A 20-hectare fringing forest will surround the wetlands to protect the birds from intrusion from nearby urban development. There will also be open water for waterbirds and perching posts, and a perimeter edge wetland for wetland species.
Other public facilities included in the design are wetland trails, a lake loop walk, and a cycle circuit and forest walk, making up 7 kilometres of paths.
The project will function as a pilot project in the national Sponge City – a program to use permeable materials and green spaces to prevent flooding in the country.
Construction of the Lingang Eco Park is expected to begin in 2017 and complete by 2018.