SWA Group announced this week that its plan for a transformative 7-kilometer swath of Yangtze River waterfront of the Hexi New Town in Nanjing, China, was selected as the winning entry among the four finalist teams and will begin detailed design in July toward anticipated initial construction beginning in 2011. Nanjing is one of China’s most ancient metropolitan centers dating back 2500 years and was for centuries the capital of China, as shown in its name: Nan meaning ‘southern’, and Jing meaning ‘capital’.
Components of the Riverfront redevelopment plan include:
§ a 75-hectare (185 acre) Yangtze EcoPark at the convergence of the Yangtze, Jiajiang and Qinhuaixin Rivers that will include a major mixed-use development with eco-hotel, shopping, housing and office
§ a 5 hectare (12.5 acre) site to include a Yangtze River Anthropology Museum;
§ a 64-hectare (160 acre) Hexi Plaza which will be the cultural epicenter of Hexi Riverfront Linear Park including a Hexi Performing Arts Center and multiple facilities for entertainment, retail, residential, office and waterfront experiential activities;
§ a 17-hectare (42.5 acre) Waterworks Park featuring family-entertainment, urban agriculture, tea follies, tourism and educational aspects;
§ a 25-hectare (62.5 acre) Art Park featuring an international art museum from a world-class architect to attract 3 million annual visitors, and would include associated museum lofts.
“Nanjing Hexi has the opportunity to become one of the world’s great urban riverfronts by attracting people to it as an amenity of beauty, recreation, culture and commerce,” said Scott Slaney, principal of SWA. “The plan also addresses larger regional and national objectives including natural resource preservation, environmental regeneration and sustainability, economic vitality and social equity while maintaining flood protection and celebrating the beauty and history of the Yangtze River.”
In replacing brownfield sites once dominated by industrial uses, Nanjing Hexi will employ environmental innovation and restoration including regenerating the water quality of the Yangtze River basin, he said.
For example, wetlands introduced along the waterfront will help cleanse the river, which has high levels of suspended solids and chemicals. To kick-start the growth of wetlands and speed up the water-polishing process, thousands of strips of man-made bio-film will be “planted” along the water’s edge and in small, floating islands. These innovative bio-film strips replicate the process of water passing through living matter and cleansing out impurities, and will help stimulate further plant growth and animal habitat.
As an international destination, Nanjing Hexi aims to gain prominence on the global stage by creating a world-class fine arts museum at the heart of the Art Park in the dramatic bend of the Jiajiang River. This International Museum of Fine Art, China’s first international fine arts museum, is planned to be designed by a globally-recognized architect for housing contemporary pieces from China and also art exhibits from around the world.
Nanjing Hexi aims to accommodate Nanjing’s continued growth as the capital of Jiangsu Province and the largest commercial center in this region of China, and further attract global investors and international clients, said Slaney.
Other notable features of Nanjing Hexi include a Yangtze River Museum of Anthropology which will employ exhibits and artifacts to teach the history of human settlement along the Yangtze; a small “eco hotel” that will have traditional rooms and rooms within the wetland park accessed by either a tranquil boat ride or serene stroll along a meandering boardwalk; expansive waterfront promenades and pedestrian access which will maintain a human, walkable scale to the planned retail/office/housing developments.
An “Urban Garden” is made up of allotted plots for local residents to grow their own food. An adjacent tea garden, also called tea follies, provides a place to slow down and relax with family and friends. The garden will have the ability to harvest its own water, generate its own power, compost its own soil and become an important, productive landscape acting as a precedent for the City of Nanjing Hexi.
Other SWA design team members included associates Yu Peiwen and Ricardo Supiciche as well as Ronghui Li, Yan Mei, Ying Hu, Chris Morton, Jessica Bacorn and Julianne Rader. Jones Lang LaSalle –Shanghai provided key market and economics research.