American Society of Landscape Architects ASLA 2007 Student Awards
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“Living Corridor”--from Ditch to Greenway: Chinghe Riverfront Landscape Renovation
Zhenqing Que, Student Affiliate ASLA
Tsinghua University, School of Architecture, Landscape Architecture
Department, Beijing, China
Faculty Advisors: Rui Yang, Laurie D. Olin, FASLA, Ron Henderson, and Colin Franklin, ASLA

"A comprehensive vision identified and delivered. Good analysis and overall concept and plan. The graphics and explanations really helped communicate the project. Deftly handled, it's just wonderful. "

— 2007 Student Awards Jury Comments

Through integrating urban riparian corridor eco-restoration, urban sewage phyto-remediation, urban infrastructure reformation, historical preservation, and public space re-shaping, a dead urban river is revived into a highly compact green park. While re-ecologizing the degraded river as much as possible, this project seeks to re-think about the nature and demonstrates how landscape architecture can bring the nature back to concrete cities.

1. Site Conditions and Challenges
The project is located on the head of the Chinghe River, in Haidian District, Beijing, China. It starts from the Hongshankou at the northern gate of the Summer Palace until the cross point with Wanquan River north to Tsinghua University, passing by the Old Summer Palace in the middle. The total area is 3.8 hectares. The following site conditions offered both opportunities and challenges for the design of the project:

Development Pressure: The continuous urbanization nibbled the land on both sides of the river. The native vegetation was wiped out with only two narrow strips of land left. The 5th Ring Road also joined to squeeze the limited space of the river corridor by paralleling through the river on its southern bank.

Chanellization and Dikes construction: The river ecological condition was further degraded by the hydraulic-construction in late 1990.

Fresh Water shortage and urban sewage pollution: The rapid dropping ground water table in city region cuts off the ground water resource of the Chinghe River while the volume of the urban sewage from newly-built waste water treatment plants is increasing dramatically.

Ecological corridor function loss: Due to all the above reasons, the degraded Chinghe River corridor has lost its function as the ecological linkage between the West Hill Forest patch and the National Olympic Forest Park patch.

Public space and bad accessibility VS open space demand of the neighborhood residents: The existing two strips of riverside parks are poorly designed and in short of functional program. Even so, the riverside is still not accessible due to the city traffic disturbances and shortage of necessary connection.

Visual influence and physical pressure to the two historical summer palaces: The bad condition of the Chinghe River directly affects the view quality seen from the top of the Longevity Hill in the Summer Palace and the visual quality of the Old Summer Palace. Further, according historical documentations, the 5th Ring Road has occupied the rear edge of the Old Summer Palace.

  1. Design objectives: The major design challenge is how to combine the different functions including ecological corridor, urban sewage drainage, large traffic infrastructure, historical preservation and public recreation and education, into the same river corridor. The solution is the “Living Tube”.
  2. Design solution: To achieve the design objective, the “Living Tube” integrates all the above functions by weaving a series of approaches including urban sewage phyto-remediation, green roof technique, underground infrastructure, storm-water management and bio-engineering, and landscape design into a highly compacted riparian corridor.

Bio-engineering bank re-construction: The concrete river banks are replaced with the planted soil slopes. The hard banks are removed away to the edge of the corridor (under the roads on the banks). Thus, both safety and ecology will be attained.

Urban sewage phyto-remediation: By introducing specific native wet plants in the riverside wetland, the treated urban sewage discharge could be further cleaned. The lower flow (the National Olympic Forest Park) area could be irrigated with the water. Also, a special rid bed channel is designed to supply clean water for the dry lake in east of Old Summer Palace.

Green roof passage: The project reshapes part of the 5th Ring Road (Hongshankou Bridge) into a green animals’ passage which links the West Hill Park with the Chinghe River and further to the National Olympic Forest Park. The passage is also a recreation belt with various open spaces shadowed by tree canopies and improves the view on the site as well.

Capping the 5th Ring Road: Capping the part of the northern 5th Ring Road outside of the Old Summer Palace north wall eliminate its influence. This also makes it possible to restore the historical landform landscape of the Old Summer Palace.

Stormwater Management: Along the river, a series of wetland lagoons are created to remediate treated urban sewage discharge flow in usual time and to store storm runoff in flooding periods.

Landscape design: A series of recreation programs connected with a walkway loop and many bridges are proposed to attract local residents. The bright and ecologically functional landscape also serves as a living material of sustainability education to the public.


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